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The DOs and DON'Ts of Packing

  • by Tys Sniffen

Follow these rules when packing. They can be put into 3 different categories: dealing with the actual stuff, figuring out your plans ahead of time, and dealing with the rules and ramifications of how and where you travel.

an overpacked guy

About Stuff:

DON’T Over pack

Of course.  It sounds simple, and it is, but you have to remember it each and every time you’re packing.  Don’t tell yourself you’ll take something ‘just in case’ or think that this one time, you won’t have to carry your bag that far.  Take less, you’ll be happier. 

DO plan outfits that can be mixed and matched - 2 bottoms and 4 tops is 8 outfits

The way to succeed at taking less stuff is to have all your stuff do more than one thing, and work in more than one setting.  Search out clothes and shoes that can be used in more than one situation - have your walking shoes be good looking enough to go to dinner.  Make sure your tops can be worn with any bottoms you bring, including the shorts. 

DON’T Pack Clothes Without Trying Them On

It’s weird to say, but some people have fantasies of wearing something for the very first time on a trip, only to find that it’s uncomfortable or doesn’t fit.  Plan your outfits!

DO Bag and Separate Your Shoes

Keep your clothes clean and pack your shoes in bags. 

DON’T Bring Too Many Shoes. 

Really, all you should bring is 2 pairs of shoes; one you’re wearing when traveling, and one pair in the bag.  Find shoes that can do double or triple duty - sandals that can go to restaurants, walking shoes that go with sports coats. 

DON’T Carry Two Backpacks or Two Suitcases or a Backpack and a Rollie

One bag to keep track of. One bag to carry. One bag is plenty.  Do not try and spread out by bringing more than one bag.

DON’T Lug Along a Pharmacy

Unless you’re going into the wilderness directly from the airport, you can get most things wherever you travel.  You do not need to bring every possible medicine or toiletries item in your bathroom.  You can buy stuff where you are, if and when you need it. 


DO have more than one place to keep your money

There are many money carrying devices out there, but fundamentally, don’t have all your money in one place.  A secret pocket in a pack can be your ‘main base’, and then a small wallet with a daily amount in it works well.  If you lose the one small wallet, you’re not out your whole wad. 

About planning

DO Dress for Your Destination and DO Check The Weather

So, of course you need to consider what the climate is like where you’re going - don’t bother taking sweaters to the equator, or rain gear to the desert.  Make sure you’re aware of the specific weather where you’re headed, so you’re not caught with the wrong gear. 

Further, make sure you take the culture into consideration.  The best travelers don’t stick out like rude outsiders.  Try and figure out how to make your travel outfits look like those peoples you’re going to visit. 


About dealing with the rules 

DON’T Pack Big Containers of Liquid in Your Carry-On and DO Know TSA Guidelines for Carry-On Liquids

At some point, these heavy jugs will either leak, spill, or be taken away.  

DON’T Go over weight or over size

Know the rules on the mode of transportation you’re taking.  Best to be safe, and pack light and small, ideally with a soft-sided pack. 

DO think about how you’ll deal with wifi or roaming charges

While this isn’t exactly a packing issue, unless you bring a bunch of tech that then won’t work or isn’t worth it if you don’t have wifi.  

Do bring a Swimming Suit

First, they're really easy to pack. Second, there's always a pool around, or a lake, or a sauna, or whatever.  Or, in a pinch, you can wear the suit as an exercise outfit, or even a 'wow it's hot' outfit. 

DO bring a Day Pack

A vast majority of the time, you don't want to be lugging ALL your stuff around, and will have a place to stash it.  But a lot of the time, you will have more than a handful of stuff you want with you on your adventure.   Think water bottle, sun hat, a few picnic items, scarf... there's always stuff that you want to be prepared. 

DON'T wait until the last minute

Of course you're reading this, so you're thinking about it, which is good.  Making some of these choices under pressure is never fun, so work this list and find the things well before your next trip.  Have stuff that is just your 'travel stuff' (you can use/wear them anytime, but if they're classified in your mind in this way, it's easy to grab them when packing).   Have stuff that is *specifically* travel stuff already in your bag.  A great way to go is have a complete toiletries kit with all the items in it in the right sized containers already in your bag, in storage.  Maybe you have the perfect travel sweater- store that in your bag when you store it. 

DO take The Journey as your one complete bag system. 

Thanks to Tommaso Pecchioli for sharing their work on Unsplash.
Thanks to LOGAN WEAVER for sharing their work on Unsplash.


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