The Art of Travel Packing

Wanderlust must-haves for traveling

Pictures of famous landmarks, exotic foreign coffee and food, international icons, and artsy looking maps are currently strewn across my bulletin board, most of them printed from my idealistic Tumblr blog. I definitely suffer from wanderlust, and thankfully, I have a family who does as well. So, it’s not surprising that I based my college decision on what kind of resources were available to support students in studying abroad and other research projects overseas. I’m beyond stoked to jump into what my large university has to offer!

I love traveling and started visiting foreign countries at the wide eyed age of 13.  Since then, I have humbly come to consider myself a pro at packing  and how to stay pretty composed while on the road. I definitely plan on conquering the world and seeing it all someday, but that’s a different story for a different time. Today, lets talk tips and tricks for packing efficiently, because wanderlust and the art of packing go hand in hand.

Simple things like staying organized and focused as you prepare before travel is the key to packing lightly and with style.

Over­-packing is both tempting and a reality for many of us. I’ve found the best way to avoid it is by packing a few simple basic pieces, which can be easily accessorized and dressed up or dressed down. Keep it simple!  What has proved incredibly helpful to me, while it seems obvious, is to make a list of everything I need. Once you visualize a list, it becomes so much easier to pack, create and plan outfits that occupy less space in your suitcase. To improve your packing even more, make a list of any activities and events you might be planning. This helps plan the outfits, shoes, and accessories you need to bring each day. While I may sound like a worrywart, I always check the weather forecast for all cities I visit. I know, I know. Over planner. Simple things like staying organized and focused as you prepare really will help your sanity in the long run though.

Packing Quick Tips

A simple, solid color top can be worn several different times during a vacation in varying settings. It can be paired with jeans and sneakers during the day, and then be tucked into a skirt with a cute cardigan or blazer later that evening for a nicer dinner or party.

Bringing only one pair of jeans is practical and convenient, especially since jeans don’t have to be laundered frequently. If you bring one pair in a clean, basic wash to be worn both day and night, nobody will know the difference. You will thank yourself for saving room in your suitcase, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up shopping during your trip. Between new clothes and souvenirs, you’ll want to leave a little room. Save those luggage weight charges!

Packing is only preparation. The most important part of travel is finding yourself in a new place, and understanding the significant history, culture, and landmarks. Step out of your comfort zone and out of your routine so you can truly immerse yourself and enjoy the place you are visiting. Keep an open mind when it comes to new forms of transportation, new foods and drink, and new languages.

Step out of your comfort zone so you can truly immerse yourself in the place you’re visiting.

Destination Quick Tips

Nail down and identify your must-­sees, but be willing to compromise about stops along the way. For example, be flexible and willing to try any restaurant or coffee shop if it’s conveniently located next to a landmark.

Be realistic. You will not be able to see every inch of a city during a vacation, but if you plan thoughtfully, you will be able to see everything you really want. Factor in adjusting to a time difference, as well as the time it will take to travel to and from a hotel and to and from each place you are intending to see.

As touristy as it sounds, make sure you have maps. Thankfully, with today’s technology, Google or Apple maps are a great alternative to reading a large paper one. Amusing to watch people do it though! Make sure you are stocked with travel survival kit: beyond the obvious like your camera, phone, ID and wallet, carrying things with you like chapstick, phone charger, eye drops, and a water bottle might help you to feel energized and prepared.

Last but certainly not least, remember to have fun and let go of your discomfort. When you look back at photographs years later, you won’t care about how your hair looked, how much sleep you lost from jet lag, or the amount of calories you consumed in foreign delicious food. Rather, you’ll love the experiences you had, memories you made, and what you learned about yourself along the way. The world is waiting. Go see it!

Also published on Medium.