Traveling light: Tips & tricks for perfect packing

December 2, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Traveling light - a quote from Rick Steves

Traveling for the first time and struggling to prioritise your packing? Wondering how you’ll cope with lugging a bulging case through the airport or onto a train? Packing light is an essential skill for most travelers. Carrying less makes for a hassle-free journey (cut out that time spent waiting at the luggage carousel) and moving about at your destination much easier. Seasoned adventurers tend to be pros at squeezing their essentials into a tiny bag. Here are our five top tips for first timers:

#1: Make a list

Make a list of everything you think you’ll need for your trip. Consider climate, activities, length of stay and access to a washing machine. Having everything laid out in this format will help you pare down your packing and identify the essentials. Need a hand? Check out our post on the best travel apps and download a digital packing guide. If you’re travelling for a Gap Medics placement, consult the handy packing guide included in your preparations pack!

#2: Use multi-purpose items

Items with multiple uses are great for cutting down on travel clutter and saving space in your luggage. Think about a piece of cloth that could be used as a scarf, a sarong or a pillow, or all-purpose soap (such as Dr Bronner’s) that can be used to wash hair, body and clothing.

#3: Roll your clothing

A favourite packing tip amongst seasoned travellers – it may sound simple, but rolling your clothing saves tons of space in your luggage (watch a tutorial here). Make sure you think about the fabric of your clothing, and consider how each item might wrinkle and crease.

#4: Wear heavier items on the plane

Want to take walking boots and flip-flops? Wear your boots on the plane. They may be a pain to take on and off in the airport, but having them on your feet means you won’t have to carry them in your bag (and boy, are walking boots heavy!).

#5: Use packing cubes

A simple yet revolutionary step towards packing perfection! We love the ones from Muji; they’re inexpensive and hard-wearing, and come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Traveling light – tips from around the web

Packing advice from our favourite bloggers and vloggers.

Traveling light: 10 days in Kenya, Light by Coco

How to pack light: tips from a master packer, Lonely Planet blog

31 travel experts share their best tips for packing light, Tortuga Backpacks blog

The flight attendant’s guide to packing light, Conde Nast Traveler

Top packing tips for flying hand-luggage only, Money Saving Expert

Light Traveling: Packing in carry-on for two months, One Girl One Suitcase

10 tips for packing light, How Stuff Works

How to pack light: A minimalist example, Indie Traveller

Pack Light, Go Fast – Photos, links and tips about the art of packing light,

Packing smart and traveling light, Rick Steves’ Europe

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.