One of the most useful skills I have learned from moving all of my stuff to and from one side of New York State to the other for 4 years while I attended SUNY Oswego was how to pack. This really helped my prioritize when I set off to live in London and had a baggage limit of one 50lb checked bag, a carry on and a “purse” for my 3.5 months staying there. I think that my travels has really taught me a few things about packing so it is not stressful, it is easy, and sometimes a fun challenge!
Check your baggage limit. Many small airlines you can take around Europe such as Ryan Air have a limit of one carry on, no purse, per person. Know exactly how much you can bring, and how much it costs if you need to check an additional bag. For me, paying an extra $80 for a bag was not worth it. Also, pack heavier items in your carry on bags (computers, cameras, jeans and shoes) because they usually have no weight limit.
Invest in a luggage scale. Trust me, trying to guess whether your carry on is over the weight limit with all of your new souvenirs in a hostel in Rome is not ideal. They are convenient, small, and inexpensive.
Comfort is key. When you are traveling, being comfortable in what you are wearing really makes or breaks your experience. No one wants to sight-see soaking wet from the rain, with sore feet, or try and sleep on a train in something uncomfortable. If you don’t wear it at home, you won’t wear it abroad. Break in shoes before packing them, and use water-proof spray on coats and boots.
- Bring only what you need. Plan out a basic outfit for each day you will be traveling. Try and cut down bottoms, sweaters and jackets by planning to re-wear them when you can and pack extra socks and underwear.
Trial and travel size toiletries. Most airlines will only allow a quart sized ziploc bag of small liquids in carry-ons. Use small trial or travel size toiletries and throw them away when your trip is over and you are heading home.
- Roll your clothes. Roll up each item of clothing into the smallest you can get it. This will save space, keep your luggage organized and keep them from getting wrinkled. Stick socks and underwear inside your boots or sneakers to save space as well.