Depending on where you are planning to travel, consider purchasing some of your basic travel necessities on the road. With most trips, you (most likely) will be flying through a large enough city where you will be able to pick up toiletries such as a razor, shaving gel, and soap among other things. Also, consider keeping important items like medication and a clean change of clothes in your carry-on bag(s) just in case you have to change flights to an onward destination without claiming your checked-in luggage or in case the unexpected happens and your luggage is lost or misplaced. Carry-ons should also include any of your breakables or expensive items such as electronics.
When traveling, we usually need a lot less than we actually pack. When packing for your trip take a good hard look at your stuff. Lugging around that extra pair of shoes or extra large bag is going to get old after the first few days. Some of our travelers who travel for long periods of time will go with just a small backpack or messenger bag, and then they will purchase what they needed on the road.
Pack your bag a few days before you leave and take it with you for a walk or on a bus-ride to see if you are comfortable with its size and weight. Take the time to do this to ensure you have the right amount packed and the right bag, considering you will be hauling it a lot on your trip.
What to Pack
For a list of important travel items please see our downloadable packing checklist.
Little Useful Tips
- Using luggage tags on all of your baggage will help identify yours from all of the rest. The free airline paper tags you get at the airport should be your last option. Find ones that are more durable and capable of withstanding the weather and time. And consider writing in the address for where you are traveling, and not your home address - This way if one or more of your bags become lost in transit, they will more likely be redirected to your destination, which is where you are going. This will save you the headache from having to repurchase all of your belongings.
- Pack that old pair of walking shoes that have been sitting, unused, in your closet. If they are a bit worn out then they are likely your most comfortable pair. Instead of throwing them out consider the kind gesture of gifting them during your travels to a local in need, or local charity. The friendly signal will go a long way while it lightens your load.
- Take a small roll of duct tape and a coil of nylon string. At some point these will come in handy. Accidentally tearing ones shoes during a trek or ripping a hole in a pack can easily be fixed with the wonders of duct tape. Or a fine piece of string or fishing line can act as a clothesline to dry damp clothes.
What Not to Pack
Did you pack your bags yourself or did someone else? If you walk up to the customs agent or the TSA and are asked that famous question make sure you know exactly what is in your bags and that there are no surprises of prohibited items. Many things are not allowed including liquids, gels and aerosols that are over three ounces. Here is a complete list of “permitted vs. prohibited” items.
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration)
The golden rule regarding prohibited carry-on items is now known as the “3-1-1 rule” for liquids, gels and aerosols, and there are no exceptions to this rule. Since 911, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) was put into place to protect the nation’s transportation systems so everyone can travel safely. Whether or not the TSA has helped the situation or made travel much more difficult can be contested by anyone traveling through the U.S. Although it may be a burden to have to abide by the rules, it will make traveling more pleasant if everyone is fully prepared before checking in.
Since the 3-1-1 policy is pretty much harmonized throughout the international community it makes sense to follow these guidelines when dealing with your carry-on:
- Limit the volume of liquids, gels and aerosols to bottles 3 ounces or smaller (or 100ml)
- Place 3 oz. bottles in 1 clear, quart-sized, zip-top bag (1 bag per traveler placed in screening bin)
- Declare larger liquids – “Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3 ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. These items must be declared for inspection at the checkpoint.” TSA.com
Do You Really Need to Pack the Entire Guide Book?
Guide books are essential items found in most travelers’ packs. They contain loads of useful information about the places we want to visit, but they also carry preventable added weight which can become a burden for extended lengths of travel. Guidebooks are printed in many formats – mainly city, country or region specific. Suppose Argentina is the only South American stop you will take on an around-the-world itinerary - Toting around a 1,000+ page book titled ‘South America On a Shoestring’ may have some money saving tips but at two extra pounds you will wish you went with a lighter book solely on Argentina or just a couple chapters from it. Many guidebooks are now available for digital download, which is advantageous since you get to pick the chapters and content you really need. If you enjoy downloading music singles online you will certainly enjoy this new publishing feature to help lighten your travel load.