Flight delays, jet lag, long lines at security – these days, travel complications are mostly out of your control. Keeping your packing simple and well-organized is one thing you can control to make travel less expensive and smoother, resulting in a more rewarding travel experience.
My travel packing mantra? Fewer, lighter, smaller. A place for everything, and everything in its place. Believe me, a little OCD isn’t a problem when it comes to packing, so this is one place you can indulge in it with abandon. Stick to a ‘carry-on only’ mentality, and make sure to adhere to the size rules – airlines now not only charge for your check-in, but now they’re starting to crack down on the over-sized carry-on in a very big way. You may find yourself checking a carry-on that they deem to large and having to eat the checked bag charge anyway.
How to avoid that? Here are a few items I never leave home without:
Favorite Bag: The eBags eTech 2.0 Weekender Convertible. This bag’s durable construction, smart layout, and its ability to be carried as either a suitcase or backpack make it very versatile. A slightly more expensive option would be the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender, which adds several pockets, including those for a laptop, water bottle, and small documents.
Favorite Organizers: Add a set of eBags packing cubes, a couple of Eagle Creek Pack-It Sacs, and a variety of Hefty One Zip plastic bags, and you’ll be sure to keep everything in its place. I separate my clean clothes in the packing cubes, and then use the Pack-It Sacs to hold toiletries, and the various sizes of plastic bags (quart, gallon, and 2.5 gallon) to hold a pair of running shoes, dirty laundry, and various other small items.
Favorite Clothing: Believe it or not, the proper clothing can help keep you organized, too. I like the Columbia Sportswear Global Adventure shirts and pants for their truly wrinkle free packability. They also feature zippered pockets for securely carrying your passport, smart phone, cards, and cash.
Some type of day pack is essential, too. Used to ferry a laptop and other essential office gear while on the plane, those electronics can then be left behind in your hotel safe while you use the day bag to carry essential sightseeing tools like a spill-proof Contigo coffee cup and water bottle, smart phone/camera, guide books, a light jacket, sunglasses, and travel documents like tickets and passes.
At the end of the day, whether traveling for business or adventure, the right gear means you’ll carry less stuff and have a more rewarding experience.
Jeff Wilson is the host of Real Rail Adventures (www.RealRailTV.com) on public television and has hosted nearly 200 episodes on HGTV and diy networks. Learn more about Jeff and his travels around the globe at www.neweyestravel.com. When not adventure-seeking, Jeff, his wife, and two daughters live in a perpetually half-renovated home in a small college town in Ohio.