Packing decisions are very personal but here are a few things to consider. Some of them I consider "rules" and others are just suggestions.
RulesRule one - Where you are going is probably civilized so you can buy things you need.
Rule two - Never carry other people’s stuff, even if it's for your kids.
Rule three - No one remembers what you wore, and neither will you. And tourists don’t impress anyone, regardless of their attire.
Rule four - Don’t count on having elevators.
Rule five - Understand that security checks are not very flexible and the staff don't appreciate your jokes. If the airline says liquids in bottles of no more than 100 ml, don't think you can trick them by taking 120 ml. If they say only one ziploc bag of liquids, don't think you can smile your way into two bags full. If the security check requires that you pull your liquids out to show them, don't wait until the last minute and hold up everyone by pulling out one bottle of lotion, one tube of mascara, one bottle of shampoo, etc.
1. Unless you absolutely can't live without them, don't take jeans. They are heavy, take too long to dry if washed in the sink, and are sometimes unsuitable attire. There are many light-weight options available.
2. Dismantle tour books, take only the parts you will use, and have the useful bits coil bound at the local photocopy shop. For example, my tour book of Greece is over 575 pages long. I have already booked my hotels, seldom go to the suggested restaurants. If I take the book apart and coil those parts that I use, it ends up being 1/2 the size. I do save the rest for the next trip.
3. Are you worried about losing things from your suitcase, or losing the entire bag? Lay everything out on your bed and take some pictures of the contents. It can be useful if you need to speak to an insurance agent.
4. Write your home and destination/home address (and mobile number if you have one) on a self-adhesive sticky label to stick INSIDE your luggage in a visible place. If your luggage is lost and the baggage label has come off, at least the airline can still figure out whose luggage it is.
5. Make-up Bag Philosophy: Rather than take a whole trip's supply of toiletries, take enough to get started and look forward to running out of toothpaste in Bulgaria. Then you have the perfect excuse to go into a Bulgarian department store, shop around, and pick up something you think might be toothpaste.... I read this somewhere and would love to give the source credit but sorry - just can't remember where I first saw it. See Rule number 1 above.
6. Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets (if not the e type). Store this (in an email for example) in your web-based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency 'lost card' telephone numbers in your web-based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access your all important information. You can even email the details page of your passport to the embassy or consulate when applying for a new one. In addition to emails to myself, I make PDF copies of all my travel documents and save them in Dropbox. I can access them anywhere and I am not carrying bulky paper with me.
7. Split up your bank cards, cash and credit cards as much as possible in different pockets, your bags and wallet when packing. In case you do get robbed, at least you won't be strapped for cash. And on this note, check with your credit card companies and bank to find out what services charges you will be paying. Some travel credit cards don't charge a fee while most charge 2.5% on any transaction. My debit card doesn't charge a percentage on withdrawals internationally but does charge a $5.00 CDN fee per transaction.
8. I have become a huge fan of packing cubes. There are many different kinds, some heavier than other. Some have rigid edges, Some can have the air sucked out of them. My favourites are extremely thin and light rip-stop nylon material that weigh virtually nothing. If you don't have packing cubes, pack everything in clear plastic bags (preferably zip lock), divided into items e.g. underwear, t-shirts, shorts etc. before packing in your suitcase or backpack. One plastic bag for each type of clothing. This is extremely useful in various ways. When you unpack your bag you just take out a series of bags and you can see immediately what you want. So an overnight stay somewhere just means taking 1 item out of a bag - no rummaging!! In addition, if you have to unpack at customs etc, instead of having to disgorge all your clothing etc. out in front of everybody, you can calmly take maybe 3 or 4 bags out, the contents of which can be clearly seen by the officials. To repack then is also dead easy.
9. A suggestion I read said "Only pack enough clothes for 7 days, no matter how long your trip. It is easier to find a laundromat once a week than it is to carry all of the extra weight around with you the entire trip.” Good advice but I will give you my take on clothing in the next post.