Whether you’re off somewhere new every weekend or a one-mega-holiday-a-year type of girl, I’m pretty sure packing is the least fun part of your trip.
I always reserve packing for the last few hours before I leave and I really, honestly believe there’s something wrong with people who get everything done the day before. So, if you’re anything like me – and like the rush you get from always being late to something – it seems like smart and efficient packing automatically excludes speed from the equation.
Well, I hereby inform you that it doesn’t have to be that way and that our days of hectic packing will come to an end. After years of trial and error – missed flights due to my inherent laziness to pack, always getting side-eyed for being the only one wearing cargo pants to a fancy dinner, and at least five bags ruined by exploding shampoos – I came up with the perfect formula for quick and efficient packing.
No, really, it’s perfect. So for all my all-over-the-place ladies out there – you might want to get this tattooed on your arm.
Always have travel-sized containers on hand
Let’s be honest, every time you say you’ll just “stop by” the drugstore – you’re lying. Shopping for cosmetics and toiletries takes anywhere between half an hour and forever, which is unacceptable here as we’re trying to boost your current efficiency.
The next time you see a neat little bag of travel-sized containers go ahead and buy it. Trust me – you’ll use them so much the plastic will disintegrate.
So, when packing time comes knocking on your door – you just pour whichever product you’re using at the time. A fail-proof formula to never forget a single product. Another great thing about travel-sized containers is that you can bring them with you in your carry-on and there’s zero possibility of spillage, as most of them have air-tight seals and come in a zip lock bag.
Never underestimate the power of the weather forecast
Don’t be one of those people that are left shocked and in disbelief every time it rains outside. It’s 2017 – get in line with the times and use the weather forecast.
Knowing what kind of weather you’ll be facing on your trip gets you at least ten points for efficiency. You won’t need to bring a raincoat or an umbrella if it’s going to be sunny and dry, and you can also skip on the swimsuit if the temperature stays around a mild 70°F.
Checking the forecast takes less than a minute and saves you at least an hour of banging your head against the wall thinking of what you’re going to bring with you.
After you’ve checked the forecast and created a mental checklist of all the clothes you’ll need – it’s time to start packing. To maximize efficiency here, you’ll need to compartmentalize your bag.
You can do this by additionally installing actual compartments, or just by creating imaginary lines that separate your suitcase into five different parts. One for toiletries, one for shoes, one for socks and underwear, one for tops and one for bottoms.
If you pack your clothes by type and into their designated compartment, you minimize the risk of forgetting or bringing too much of something.
Roll AND fold
There’s two kinds of people in this world – those who fold, and those who roll their clothes.
However, any pro-packer will tell you that choosing sides won’t make packing easier or more efficient. For maximum use of space and minimum wrinkles, experts (i.e. me) suggest rolling clothes made from thinner, more elastic materials and folding thick or bulky ones.
There are a few reasons why this is ideal for efficient packing. First, rolling clothes takes less than a second. You also don’t have to worry about getting it all perfect as you’ll only be rolling clothes that don’t wrinkle. Second, you can do a pretty mediocre job of folding sweaters, sweatshirts, cardigans, jackets, and jeans and they’ll still come out of your suitcase looking all nice and wrinkle-free.
It takes no more than ten seconds per item of clothing, and believe me – I counted.
When it comes to luggage – size does matter
You can forget all about efficient packing if you’re using a large suitcase. It just won’t do.
No matter how long you’re going away for, to make packing a breeze use the smallest sized suitcase you possibly can. That way, you’ll kill to birds with one stone – you won’t overpack, as there’s no space to do that, and you can pack, start to finish, in under 20 minutes.
Pro tip – to make the most out of your small suitcase, choose a carry-on that doubles as a backpack. It has more nooks and crannies you can cram your stuff in; it has wheels, retractable handles, and backpack straps.
Keep your passport in your suitcase
And I cannot stress this enough. Learn from my mistakes and keep your passport in your go-to bag. That way, you won’t go broke paying taxi drivers to turn around and drive you home to get it when you’re already half way down to the airport.
Of course, you don’t have to do this if you’re going on a spa weekend 50 miles away from your home. But, it’s worth knowing that a passport is a valid form of ID, so you never know when it might come in handy.
Put your chargers where you can see them
You know the scare you get after you’ve just checked in your bag at the airport? The one you get when you’re not sure if you’ve packed your charger or not? Well, it’s the worst.
To make sure this terrible, horrible thing never happens to you, always put your charger in your purse and carry it with you.
I don’t know of an airline or a safety procedure that bans chargers, so there’s no chance for it to get confiscated.
Also, if you’re packing in a hurry, chances are your phone battery isn’t all the way full. Being able to plug it in while you travel gives you a piece of mind where your precious charger is and saves you from the dread of listening to airplane music for three hours.