6 Packing Tips from a Seasoned World Traveler
Growing up, I had a map on my wall with tacks marking the places I wanted to visit. I named my stuffed animals after the locations I dreamed about. I had a koala named Sydney, my teddy bear was Peter (after Saint Petersburg) and my stuffed giraffe was named Kenya.
In high school, I jumped at the opportunity to study in Arcachon, France. I’ll never forget the field trip to the world-famous vineyards in Saint-Emilion. It was the 80’s, and we were in France … They let us 16-year-olds try the wine!
After the semester was over I was fortunate enough to stay an extra month. My roommate and I traveled to Ireland. But when we got there, we were pretty much broke.
I'll never forget hitchhiking around the Irish countryside and drinking Guinness with the locals.
I returned to Europe for my junior year of college and lived in Vienna, Austria. I have the fondest memory of watching Mozart at the Vienna State Opera and travelling to Munich for the Oktoberfest.
When I graduated from college, I bought an around the world plane ticket and was able to see so much of the world.
Those early trips were fantastic. All I needed was a backpack and a camera. But today, I’m not roughing it.
I’ve discovered one of the keys to a good trip is knowing what to pack in your suitcase. Seasoned travelers know it’s the small details that matter.
So here are a few packing tips to help you enjoy your next adventure.
1. Pack Your Suitcase Light
I take a rolling carry on suitcase for most of my journeys. But I don’t fill it up … I always leave room to bring things back.
You’ll need to be mindful of the location you're traveling to. European airlines don’t allow as much weight as US airlines. And if you are going on a safari you’ll end up on some really small planes where the luggage is capped at 15kg (33lbs) per person.
“The Bigger Carry-On” by Away is my first choice. It it very lightweight while still staying small enough to fit into the overhead bins of most airlines.
If you don’t mind checking a bag, “The Large” suitcase by Away, is my daughter’s favorite. She needs the extra space because she always brings too many shoes...
2. Prepare for Power
Buy an international power adapter. You don’t want to end up stranded after a canceled flight with a dead cell phone.
They’re small and cheap. Keep one in your carry-on at all times.
3. Stock a Make-up Kit
Keep those must-have items that you can’t live without at your disposal. My monogrammed Louis Vuitton “Dopp Kit Toilet Pouch” is always stocked with travel size versions of all my beauty essentials.
Having this kit ready to go means I do not forget anything. And it also saves a lot of space compared to a full-size product.
Remember, space is valuable … Don’t waste it!
4. Use Packing Cubes
Organization saves time and energy. When traveling, it can be tough to squeeze in all the shopping and sightseeing you want to do. Packing cubes are a simple travel hack that’ve saved me a lot of frustration and countless hours over the years.
Packing cubes make packing, unpacking, and repacking your suitcase easier and faster. For most trips, I use this pack from Paravel. They can be monogrammed too.
For longer trips, consider compression cubes. I used this set from Flight 001 for a three-week-long trip to China. The cubes allowed me to pack everything I needed in one suitcase.
5. Waterproof Raincoat! Never leave home without one...
I learned this lesson the hard way. I was in Istanbul one summer and got caught in a downpour.
The “water-resistant” jacket I had with me let in more water than it kept out. I’m lucky it was summertime because I was soaked.
Now I always travel with a “waterproof” jacket if there’s even the slightest chance of rain.
6. The Rule of ONE
Have you noticed a theme here? When packing less is more. The less you bring the more you can shop and take back home.
With that in mind consider items with multiple functions.
One pair of designer sneakers fits many scenes. You can wear them on the airplane. Trust me your feet will thank you on that twenty-minute walk in Europe. Today designer sneakers are even acceptable at Michelin 3-star restaurants.
You can wear one pair of jeans for several days. Pick a style that’s dark (in case you spill something) and comfortable. Our jean buying guide has everything you need to know about selecting the perfect denim for your body.
I am so lucky to have visited so many unique and interesting places.
And the people I met along the way changed my outlook on the world.
I learned to scuba dive in Cairns, Australia.
In Bangkok, I discovered the joy of a tuk-tuk ride (a small motorized rickshaw).
I’ve sailed the Nile on a felucca and visited Egypt’s pyramids and ancient tombs.
And while I love the food trucks I can find in my hometown ... Nothing compares to the street food in Hong Kong.
I have already planned a trip to the Galapagos for 2022 but I am dreaming of my next adventures and where I might go.
I hear the Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia have some of the most spectacular diving in the world.
And there are amazing sights in the colder climates too. Wouldn't it be cool to see the Northern Lights and watch polar bears in their natural habitat?
Travel is for everyone. Pack right and you’ll stay immersed in the experience and enjoy the moments more.
Follow me at @julierayjennings to keep up with my travels!
Favorite recent trips:
San Miguel D' Allende Mexico
South Africa and Mozambique
Turks and Caicos
Kenya and Tanzania
Positano and Capri Italy