Being in the military means you have to be incredibly meticulous with pretty much everything you own.That includes things you pack and unpack as you go to and from your destinations. Who else could better advise us on how to pack than those who do it regularly for their jobs, with military precision no less?
Who else could better advise us on how to pack than those who do it regularly for their jobs, with military precision no less?
Make a packing list.
Creating a packing list is a fail-safe way to ensure that you never, ever forget to bring something important. If you have a trip coming up in a couple weeks, it doesn’t hurt to keep a notepad around a jot down things you’ll need.
If you’re going on a hiking trip and remember you need new socks, or a beach trip and need sunscreen, keep the list going until a day or two before and then check to make sure you have everything.
Find an open space.
We usually pack in our bedrooms—as we should since that is where all our clothes are. But how clean is your bedroom? If you have to think about that, then maybe it is not the best place to pack. Find an open space with enough room to lay everything out and have a good visual of it all.
This way you’ll realize every item you’re taking and it will be more organized. Eagle Creek Travel Outfitters explains, “Use your bed as a landing pad and don't even think about pulling your luggage out of the closet yet. You need to get a bird's eye view and have the ability to make cuts before throwing everything inside your bag." This will help you pack in a certain order, which we will get to next.
Know the 3-1-1 rule.
The TSA's 3-1-1 security rule for flying with carry-on liquids is: 3.4 oz bottles or less in one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag. If you’re checking a bag then it’s not as much to worry about, but definitely put your liquids in a large ziplock in case they open up mid-flight.
As for the carry-on, make sure you’re prepared because no one likes the person who isn’t and then holds up the line.
Pack in reverse order.
Let's say you're heading out on a beach trip. Have you ever packed a suitcase, gotten to your destination, found your hotel room, and all of a sudden your friends want to immediately go to the pool or beach? You don't want to waste time unpacking so you just try to grab your swimsuit and head out the door. The next thing you know, half of your clothes are on the bed and you can’t find your suit, flip flops, or tank top. Annoying, right?
The next thing you know, half of your clothes are on the bed and you can’t find your suit, flip flops, or tank top. Annoying, right?
That is why it helps to pack in reverse order. Whatever you’ll need first goes in last, at the top of the bag. We usually pack it first because it’s one of the first things we think of, like a swimsuit for a beach trip, but it makes far more sense to have easy access to something like that.
Watch your luggage weight.
An easy way to make sure you’re under the weight limitations is to weigh yourself, then weigh yourself again while holding your suitcase. The difference is obviously how much your suitcase weighs.
To prevent displacement, for backpacks, keep the heaviest in the center and closest to your back/spine. For a suitcase, put the heaviest stuff down by the wheels, and the lightest by the handle.
Don't fold your clothes.
Do this instead:
USA Today agrees with the roll method: “Many travel experts—including backpackers, who must stuff month's' worth of clothing into a pack the size of a box of wine—agree that rolling is superior to folding. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones.” As far as socks and underwear go, stuff them into other things like shoes so you filling every inch of space possible.
Pack your shoes the right way.
This might be easier for men since men’s shoes don’t have heels (usually) but either way, you have to be smart about how you pack shoes. You want to create a perimeter around the base of your suitcase with your shoes, as if it’s a foundation. They usually weigh the most and are dirty, so you don’t want them mixed in with all your clean clothes.
Plus, this can help keep everything in place when your bag is being thrown about. To keep your shoes smelling fresh (and your bag for that matter), stuff a few dryer sheets in them.
Pack extra plastic bags.
No one ever said anything bad about having an extra ziplock bag. You can use them for a hundred reasons when traveling, everything from waterproofing documents to holding a bunch of change.
Skyscanner agrees: “If you want to organise your packing then get yourself a stash of ziplock bags. Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones - take extra plastic bags (the same ones you'd use for hand luggage liquids) and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories.”
When you’re traveling and on the go, you want to stay organized and a super-easy way to do that is put everything in those little bags. See, they’re not just for sandwiches!
As for the grocery bag, that is where you can stash your dirty clothes so they don’t get mixed in with anything clean. And a large garbage bag is a makeshift poncho!
Get a good piece of luggage.
This is your lifeline to your belongings. It is worth spending a little more of your paycheck on to secure durability. Cheaper bags will have to be replaced, and probably don’t have as much organization or storage.
You can usually find some good ones on sale online—just make sure to do your research. You’ll appreciate it on long trips now and in 10 years when it’s still working.
As far as what type of bag you should buy, try to find one that opens all the way (not a top loader). However, for women, it’s best to get a backpack over a shoulder bag; Eaglecreek explains, “In general, we recommend using a travel backpack rather than a shoulder bag as your companion piece. This saves your back and keeps your arms free.”
Don’t forget sleep essentials.
When you’re traveling you may be out of your comfort zone, so a great way to even out the playing field is bring some items that help you block out all distractions. It may look funny, but you’ll be laughing when you wake up refreshed and see everyone else struggling for a nap.
Bring a neck pillow, an eye mask, and some ear plugs. You’ll get some great sleep no matter what plane, train, or bus you're on.
Use compression bags.
While those in the military doesn’t really have to worry about several outfits, sometimes you do. A great way to save money by not having to check a bag is to just take a carry-on suitcase.
However, space fills up quick. Instead of spending the $30 for a checked bag, go online and buy some compression bags for $15. You can use them over and over and you can pack a lot more with them—just watch the weight!