Brando shares his top ten packing tips, learned over 15 years of travel to all 7 continents.
Let someone with ADD give you tips on how to pack!? Packing for your trip should be simple and efficient. However, for some, it can be an overwhelming task that takes hours out of your night or is delayed until the last minute. Everyone has his or her favorite packing hacks and tricks which they have learned over the years. Things like, “roll your clothes” and stuffing things into your shoes should be obvious so I will try to offer some truly helpful ideas.
Have a drawer where you keep all of your travel essentials in one spot.
Then you can easily select what you need without spending too much thought or worry about forgetting something. It’s also helpful to have things in this drawer which are separate, and just for travel. Eg: many of us have several phone chargers. Set aside one in the travel drawer.
Have a small toiletry kit prepared and reserved just for travel.
Some of us put off packing because we need to pack some of the items we use daily. Then we forget to pack key items such as contact solution or lipstick. I always have a small toiletries kit that I can easily toss into my luggage. What’s inside may be different for everyone, but mine contains a minimum of: toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, chapstick, extra contacts, contact solution, hair gel, eye shades, ear plugs, lotion, Band-Aids, a tiny bottle with ibuprofen and an antihistamine, a comb, and Qtips. My favorite holder for this is the business class kits which Continental Airlines used to give out. It was compact, zipped closed, and folded out to reveal two zippered compartments. Simple and effective.
Passport, wallet, and documents go in one case.
I use an old Delta Business class case to store my passport, backup credit cards, several euros and dollars, PADI SCUBA card, extra passport photos for visas, and my yellow fever vaccination certificate. I can keep this next to my toiletry kit and grab them both when starting to pack.
Have separate electronics and cords reserved just for travel.
It’s a pain to arrive and realize you forgot your charger or Iphone cord. Many of us have multiple phone chargers and cords; I keep one set reserved for travel and keep it next to my passport case and toiletry kit in the same area as my GoPro, tiny travel Bluetooth speakers, and gimbal.
Have a simple system for knowing where all your valuables are.
It’s easy to forget what is where when you are keeping track of a carry-on backpack, a roll aboard, checked-in luggage, and a purse. Always know exactly where your valuables are and this will save you from assuming they are in another bag when really you left your kindle in the airplane seat pocket, your passport at home and your laptop in the hotel safe. This will also keep you safer from theft and keep track of valuables that are necessary to continue on your journey. If someone steals your other bag and it only contains clothes, that can easily be replaced and most credit cards cover this sort of thing. If your passport is stolen, however, your trip could be ruined. I usually keep all of these items in one backpack or case. If backpacking, keep them in a small backpack separate from your large bag – one which you never let out of your sight. If jet setting for work or fancy travel, keep it in your laptop bag.
What are you wearing? Visualize yourself on vacation.
What are you wearing for each activity? This helps me not to forget basic clothing items which you may need: hiking boots, flip flops, shorts, a bathing suit or a winter coat.
Have multi-use items and save on space and complexity.
One of my favorite travel hacks is wearing Sperrys or GoreTex tennis shoes. Sperrys can be worn on the beach, running through a river, hiking in the forest or cleaned up and out to a fancy restaurant or nightclub. Goretex tennis shoes are waterproof, comfortable for exploring a city or forest in rain or shine. Think of what you are bringing that can serve multiple purposes.
Do not bring these items.
Soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, umbrella, or massive amounts of makeup. Rarely have I ever been traveling and needed soap or shampoo. Most hotels or even hostels give you all of these items nowadays. When I was on a trip where I needed these items, such as an extended backpacking adventure, it was fun to buy local soaps – eg: in Africa where soaps contain citronella and lemongrass – natural mosquito repellents!
Buy plug adapters, not bulky travel adapters. Pack a debit card and a backup debit card.
Laptops, shavers, phones, cameras, and practically every electronic item has a built in currency converter. Look at the charger; if it says Input: 100-240v, 50-60hz then you are golden. Just a plug adapter will do. Hairdryers and curling irons don’t have this feature, but then again see tip # 8. Pack a debit card, credit cards, and don’t worry about travelers cheques or changing money. No one uses these anymore. Many banks don’t charge to use ATMs, if yours does then withdrawal an amount you are comfortable with loosing – eg: $120 at a time, or in local currency equivalent. Keep a backup credit or debit card separate from your wallet, in case this gets stolen.
This one is a bit funny, but if you are a sommelier – bring a plastic wine aerator, a plastic wine key, and styrofoam packing containers for transport. I have found that hotel slippers can be used in a pinch to protect unplanned wine purchases. OK, that was fairly specific, but you get the point. If you love diving then think about what items you find yourself always needing. A snorkel and goggles, a waterproof bag, a floating GoPro handle? Love the beach? You will need flipflops, sunscreen, a beach speaker, etc. My wife always brings a sarong which can be used as a beach towel, a scarf, or to keep warm on a flight. Photographer? You get the point.
Stick to this philosophy: Bring multi-use, compact, customized items. Simple is the way to go. Keep all your valuables in one place.