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Travel: Packing the Essentials, Ditching the Excess

Travel: Packing the Essentials, Ditching the Excess

Exploring the world is one of the most common items on the typical bucket list. Traveling provides opportunities that don’t come up anywhere else, but lots of people don’t get to enjoy the added benefits that come with traveling with minimal luggage. Packing smart is absolutely essential for a hassle-free trip. We’ve created a list of tips and tricks to help you when you travel, so you can ensure that you’re carrying everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Before You Go

As far as the suitcase or bag you’ll be taking, there are ways to make the most of the space you have and the things you’ll be bringing. Just like folding your clothes leaves more space than wadding them into a ball, rolling them will save more space than folding. Additionally, even if you’re staying longer than a week, only pack a week’s worth of clothing. It’s easier to find a laundromat or hand-wash clothes than it is to lug extra clothing in a suitcase around an airport, subway system, or train station. And when deciding which clothing items to bring, you can minimize even further—instead of bringing a heavy coat, bring a good sweatshirt for layering. Try packing just one or two versatile pairs of pants and shoes. The key here is durability and versatility: with everything you bring, you should ask yourself whether you’ll use each item often enough to justify bringing it. Of those items you would use, make sure they’ll function in a variety of settings (e.g. your shoes should be comfortable and practical for several types of weather). Finally, leave the “what if” items at home. Anything you might instead of will end up needing, you can easily buy once you get to your destination (and often en route).

Another way to save space and have some added convenience is to purchase a small hygiene kit. This will allow you to carry everything you need for toiletries without having to fill small travel bottles and figure out how to keep them all together. It will also come in handy after a long flight to help you freshen up. And here’s a pro tip: if you’ll need to do laundry on your trip, put a single-use laundry pod or a sandwich bag with powder detergent inside the hygiene kit.

The Essential Electronics

If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll most likely need a power converter to deal with the foreign outlets and voltage. The trick is to bring a power strip so that you only need one converter for all your electronics. Keep in mind that these can come in the form of indoor extension cords with multiple outlets, a rectangular strip, or a cube. Bring one that best fits the space you have in your suitcase and has the amount of outlets you think you’ll need.

You’ll also want to bring a portable charger with you for those times when your phone’s battery is on its last leg while you're out and about. It’s up to you to decide how much charging capacity you’ll need the battery to have, but in most cases, enough juice to fully charge a phone once should be just fine. The Poweradd Slim 2 retails for $12.99 on Amazon and is compact enough to easily go wherever you do. Just make sure to bring along a compatible charging cord.

Saving Space and Money

One of the best things you can do while traveling is to bring a good quality reusable water bottle everywhere you go. You can dump it out when you need to go through security and refill it whenever you need, and you don’t have to worry about the crushed, misshapen plastic that eventually comes with carrying a disposable bottle. You'll also save money: you won't need to buy a new bottle every time you get thirsty. Elemental Bottles has a great reusable, insulated bottle that holds a good amount while staying slim. The lid also has a handle for easy carrying.

The age of film, digital, or disposal cameras is past for the average tourist, thanks to the development of high-quality camera phones. If you plan on using your phone to take all the pictures on your trip, you’ll definitely want to get an app to store your photos so they take up less space on your phone. Make sure you download the app that best fits your individual needs—check out our post on the best apps for storing photos so you can figure out exactly which app to get.

Final Things: Your Wallet

The last thing you’ll want to do to ensure you’re only carrying what you need is to clean out your wallet. Take a look at our post on minimizing your everyday carry—you’d be surprised at how much you can reduce!

Then, make sure that you’ve got your essential cards and any international bills you might need. Grab international bills at your local bank before you go, since banks charge fees for using foreign ATMs. Once you’ve got your passport and any tickets or boarding passes you’ll need, put them in your wallet along with your essential cards and bills. Keep your wallet close to you at all times, and don’t fill it with anything else. If you’re looking for a wallet that’s designed to hold all these essentials, check out The Atlas, our wallet that makes a home for your passport and travel documents while you’re away from yours. Plus, the peace of mind you’ll get from having an RFID-protected wallet will seriously reduce your worry of being electronically pickpocketed abroad.

Minimizing what you carry while traveling will make a world of difference in the convenience of getting around. You won’t be weighed down or stand out as an obvious tourist, and you’ll have an easier time navigating stairs and crowds. Traveling is meant to be fun and exciting, so why not make it the best experience possible?