Last Minute Packing Tips

Departure in less than 3 days…

Excitement is building, and the packing is at hand!  So here are a few tips that always help me as I prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!

Spread everything out that you’re thinking about packing and evaluate.

  • Double check that the essentials are there.
  • Look at every item carefully, do you really need it?  Is the space and weight worth it?
  • Are there any items you can double up?

Compartmentalize. There are “cube” systems you can buy for packing, but I just use an odd assortment of little bags I’ve gathered over the years.

  • Toiletries: in a small bag that will has a few small pockets to help organize, also has a hook which is perfect for small bathrooms without counter space.  I just hang it on a towel rack and which keeps everything handy.
  • First aid kit: small bag with first aid supplies.  Hopefully I won’t need to go in there very often, but I don’t want to have to run to a pharmacy for a headache or blister.
  • Compression bags: Space saver bags are great for condensing the size of your clothes, but they’re also helpful for organizing.  I use one for underwear and socks, and one or two others for shirts and pants.  X-Large Ziploc bags also work if you can squeeze all the air out before you seal it up.
  • Shoes:  I wear my tennis shoes and fit my sandals in the edges.  If they’re dirty, I’ll put them in newspaper bags.

What goes in the checked luggage vs carry on?  While I admire backpackers who can pack for 3 months in a carry-on, my photography gear throws a curve ball to that style of packing, so I have to pack with checked luggage.

Be sure to check the TSA website.  There is a very helpful chart of what you can and can not pack.

Carry on:

  • With an overnight flight and almost 24 hours of travel time, it’s important to choose the travel outfit carefully.   I’ll dress for comfort, but also to keep my suitcase lighter.  So I’ll wear my heaviest shoes, long pants and layers.  I’ll also wear my one light jacket.  Airplanes tend to get cold at night, and I want to sleep on the flight down.  The advantage of layers is it also provides more options in case the main suitcase doesn’t arrive.
  • Other important items for carry on: prescription medicines, earplugs, book (or eReader) toothbrush, small toiletries.  Anything you would NEED for a day or two if your luggage doesn’t make it.
  • I’ll also wear a money belt under my clothes, which will have my passport, cash, credit card.

Photography gear.  Since Photography is my reason for travel, my photography gear is more important to me than a complete change of clothes.  My carry-on will be a camera backpack which will hold my camera gear and laptop.  My “small personal item” will be my day pack packed with a wallet with my itinerary, pocket money, Nook, iPod, small toiletries and at an extra pair of underwear and t-shirt.

Checked luggage:

  • My tripod goes in the middle of my suitcase, in between the rods for the wheels.
  • Anything prohibited in carry-on.  This includes knives, multi-tools, liquids over 3oz.
  • Everything liquid or cream gets put in a plastic bag.  I’ve had a bottle of shampoo explode on an international flight. Ick!  It took a while to rinse the shampoo out of all my clothes.
  • Most clothes packed in space saver bags, but some little items kept out to fill the empty spaces left when other items are packed.  Socks make great space fillers.
  • Pack the heaviest items at the bottom of both wheeled luggage and backpacks.
  • Don’t forget to leave some space for souvenirs.

Once everything is packed and ready to go, make sure that YOU can carry everything at one time.  We won’t have any sherpas or porters.  If you can’t easily handle all of your own gear, then you make yourself more of a target for theft.  Of course, we’re traveling with a group and will keep an eye on each other, but it’s always a good idea to be self contained with your luggage.

Do any of the readers who are seasoned travelers have any other advice?

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