World Travel 101: Part 7 – Packing

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You’re traveling overseas, now how should you pack and what should you bring?

World Travel 101: Part 7 Packing

I’ll Tell You All of My…Err…Emily’s Packing Tricks!

World Travel 101 – Index

Here are some packing tips to help you prepare for your 1st trip overseas!

Avoid Over Packing!

Over packing is very tempting.  You’re going to be a long way from home and you want to be prepared.  But packing too much can cause you a lot of hassle!  Rick Steves has a great packing checklist that you can use to help prepare for your trip.

You may have to walk quite a bit before you get to your hotel or your next destination.  Don’t get weighed down by carrying around heavy bags.

Here are some ways you can avoid bringing too much with you:

  • Pack clothes that can be mixed and matched
  • Bring layers – Even if the weather is projected to be warm, it may rain and hotels and airports can get chilly
  • Don’t worry about preparing for every possible scenario – Most destinations will have stores close-by where you can purchase last-minute items
  • Use packing cubes or vacuum bags – This is a great way to organize and condense your items, so it’s easier to fit everything into your bag
  • International travel adapter – This converter safely adapts your US electric plugs to international plugs
  • Medicine and prescriptions – Always carry your prescriptions in case you lose your medication and need a refill
  • Copies of passport & visa – Carry both print and electronic copies
  • Ear plugs and eye mask – You’ll never know when these will be useful, and they don’t take up much space
World Travel 101: Part 7 Packing

Save Precious Luggage Space With Packing Cubes and Vacuum Bags

If you’re going to a developing country and have extra space in your luggage, consider bringing donations for families in need.  You’ll almost certainly see people who you can help, and it doesn’t take much effort or money.

Save Money on Checked Bag Fees

It’s also important to pack light because checked bags can get expensive, especially if they are overweight!  Most airlines don’t charge for the 1st checked bag on international flights.  But you could pay ~$25 to ~$100 per person each way for a 2nd checked bag!

World Travel 101: Part 7 Packing

Checked Bag Fees Can Really Add Up!

Keep in mind that you may still be charged for your 1st checked bag on some flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.  You can avoid paying with credit cards that waive checked bag fees such as:

  • Barclaycard US Airways – 1st checked bag fee waived for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation
  • Citi American Airlines Platinum Personal and Business – 1st checked bag fee waived for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation

You could also wind up paying ~$100 to ~$200 per bag (each way!) if your checked bag is over the ~50 pound weight limit.

This is why I always use a luggage scale.  They are affordable, lightweight, and can save you from unexpected luggage charges!  If the weight limit is 50 pounds, I stop at 48 pounds just to be safe. 

Prepare for Mishaps

While undesirable, it sometimes happens, your checked bags get lost.  You can minimize the impact by putting essentials in your carry-on bag.  I like to pack at least 1 change of clothes, important documents, and valuables in my carry-on.

World Travel 101: Part 7 Packing

Don’t Let Missing Belongings Ruin Your Trip!

Leave Room for Souvenirs

We like to bring back special items to remember our trip and to share with friends, family, and our readers.

If you plan on returning with more than you left with, remember to leave extra space in your suitcase.  I typically leave one-third of a bag empty for souvenirs.

World Travel 101: Part 7 Packing

Save Space for Goodies You Want to Bring Home!

Bottom Line

Checked bag fees can add up!  So try to pack light.  You can also save money on bag charges with a credit card that waives your 1st checked bag fee.  And by using a luggage scale to ensure your bag meets the airline’s weight requirements.

Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility that your bags could get lost or stolen.  So keeping valuable documents and items in your carry-on could save you a lot of time and stress!

And remember to leave extra space in your luggage for any souvenirs you might bring back from your trip.

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6 responses to “World Travel 101: Part 7 – Packing

  1. I usually resist the urge to buy souvenirs which will end up getting thrown away 2 years later, but since you always end up buying something for friends and family, I use the practice of “clothes dumping”. Throughout the year I save those clothes that either have minor nicks and tears or I just don’t want anymore, and when getting ready for a big international trip that is over 10 days, I take those. As I wear them, I throw them away. Space frees up at the end of the trip for souvenirs.

  2. Ha @FreeTravelGuys! I also practice clothes dumping. I have left behind old shoes, shirts, socks, etc. I was going to throw them away anyway, I might as well throw them away on a trip.

  3. The other option is shipping souvenirs. We also unloaded some guidebooks by shipping them to ourselves before we left Japan on our way to Italy last year. It wasn’t very expensive since we chose the slowest, cheapest option, and we got home before the package did.

  4. My wife and I are going to Europe (Greece really, with stopovers in Frankfurt each way) for 9 days this summer. Do you think it’s worth trying to pack each of us into a carry-on only (and maybe a small backpack as a personal item for me) so we can avoid having to check bags? I’m particularly concerned because we’re switching airlines in each direction (Singapore/Lufthansa) and really I’d rather just have a roller carry-on to tote around. Am I nuts? My wife doesn’t like the idea of packing light. 🙂

  5. Rather than leaving 1/3 of your bag empty for souvenirs, which is usually impossible on extended trips, I usually put an empty medium sized duffel bag that will lie flat on the bottom of my suitcase before packing. Then you can use it to hold souvenirs as a carry on (I usually only have a very small carry on bag so this becomes my second bag) or you can fill the duffel bag with your dirty laundry as you go, freeing up space in your main suitcase for souvenirs. 🙂

  6. One thing I have learned from traveling is always bring a swimsuit, because you never know when you might need it. =)