Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. Thank you, we appreciate it!
So you’re headed someplace exotic. Maybe it’s the African Savana or the Swiss Alps or the streets of Madrid. Wherever you end up going, one of the last things you want going through your mind is “Why on earth did I bring that pair of hot pink stilettos?” Although the packing list is different wherever you may go, certain tips are universal.
None more so than…
Tip number Zero: Test it out!
When everyone starts packing, especially for their first time, they will make a pile of “I’ll definitely need this” items. Yet by the end, that pile will inevitably be three times larger than they had wanted it to be. Before you pack it, wear it. Do you like it? Is it flattering? Will it make sense on your trip? You won’t know until you’ve tested it out first.
10 Questions to Ask Yourself when Packing
How many times will I wear it?
Clothes are, far and away, the most common thing to over pack. The question every novice traveler asks is “What if…” then supplies the answer for that in a new outfit. Read TFG’s tips on how to mix and match clothing to make a capsule travel wardrobe.
Is this a just in case item?
It’s far too easy to get bogged down in the details. Instead, pack a week’s worth of versatile clothes, then ask what situations you’d be okay wearing any of them in. For the best tips, head over to this post and read the secret to packing light. If you still find yourself missing one or two items, go ahead and add them, but, not before you ask…
Can I buy it there?
Sometimes we get so nervous about needing everything on our trip that we want to pack a 5 month supply of toiletries, but rest assured every country in the world has heard of a toothbrush. Odds are if you find it at your corner store back home, you’ll find it at the corner store here. (Note: does not apply to food.)
Sometimes, and only sometimes, it’s more efficient to bring something bigger but more versatile instead of a whole bunch of one use items. Pick and choose your battles.
Am I packing bulky organizing accessories?
When you’re back home, you want everything to have it’s particular spot or case or bag. However, when you’re traveling, you need to consolidate. Do you really need a case for your laptop charger (do you need your laptop?) or sunglasses? Some creative wrapping and careful packing often does away with these secondary goods.
Learn how to choose toiletries.
Do we each need to pack one?
If you’re traveling with other people, you often don’t need the redundancy. Like with tip number two, bring and share only what you need to get you on your feet. One tube of toothpaste and one bottle of sunscreen should get you and your crew through the first part of your travels. Then if needed, buy as you go. That’s what I do on my long term travels!
Are these shoes going to be comfortable?
It’s tempting to bring the right pair of shoes for every occasion, but unless you’re going to a wedding the day after some jungle trekking, two to three pairs is really all you need. Check out our favorite travel shoes!
Is the weather going to be hot or cold or both?
Do some research on where you’re going. Are you in the rainy season? Is it going to be hot and humid? If you’re going to a tropical rain forest, how often are you going to wear that snow jacket you bought last winter? For mixed climates, think in layers (and read this 10 step guide!) Don’t brink a tee and a parka. Stack up your clothes for multiple purposes and combinations.
Do I even know what to do with this?
If you can’t name at least two thirds of what the buttons on your camera do, you’re probably bringing the wrong camera. If you can’t tell me what those numbers mean on your lens, you probably made some dealer a little too happy. For most of us, you can take all the memorable pictures you want without that 10 pound behemoth hanging around your neck. TFG loves these waterproof cameras for travel!
Does every item in my luggage have a purpose?
Don’t just grab your favorite purse and throw it in your luggage. Empty it out and take apart everything before you begin – do that with everything. You’ll be surprised how many “oh that’s where that went” things you’ll find. Nobody is going to exchange a fistful of coins into local currency. Dump the junk out of your purse before you travel! Check out our top cross body purses for travel!
Do I know anyone that’s been to this destination?
Odds are someone you know knows some who has been there before. Email your friends. Better yet, call them. And when in doubt, post a question on Travel Fashion Girl’s Facebook Page. We’re always here to help!
For more packing tips and ideas, please read:
- 60 Travel Packing Tips from the Experts
- How to Avoid Overpacking with 20 Awesome Tips
- Top 7 Carryon Luggage Packing Tips for Women
- How to Travel Carry-on Only for EVERY Trip!
Hope you enjoyed this post on our favorite packing tips for smart travel. Please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Thanks for reading!