How to Become a Packing Ninja

Having traveled to six continents on the cheap…means that we often use budget airlines to get around.  This also means that we take public transportation and lugging around giant suitcases on buses, ferries, trains, etc…simply isn’t feasible. Therefore, we generally rock a lightweight backpack and satchel each.  We have traveled for weeks at a time like this.  Here is how we make this work: Rolling vs. Folding:  Folding clothes takes up significantly more room than rolling clothes. 

We generally roll our heavy items (jeans, long sleeve shirts, slacks, etc) and place them at the bottom of our backpack.  We then roll our shirts and place them on top.  In the minimal empty spaces, we tightly roll our undergarments/socks and shove in any remaining space.  On top of our rolled clothes are our toiletries…which fit perfectly into a quart sized Ziploc bag.  Easy-in, Easy-out for security.

Be Low Maintenance:  Are you really going to NEED that extra pair of shoes?  Are you 100%  sure you NEED to wear that extra outfit?  Do you have a lighter weight pair of capris that can be substituted for those bulky pants? Do you really NEED to rock that designer outfit with matching shoes? As a reminder, we care about experiences and memories…not things.  Our travel style may not be for everyone, but it works for us.  We don’t always look cute.  We aren’t always able to go to any restaurant we want due to dress code.  But, we make it work. Generally speaking, we both pack 7-8 outfits, 7-9 pair of socks/undergarments, 2 pairs of pajamas, a bathing suit (if traveling to warm climates) and a pair of flip flops for a two week trip.  Halfway thru, we find a laundry mat and do laundry.  It’s always an adventure learning how washers/dryers work in other countries.  Not to mention, laundry mats are an amazing place to chat with locals and find out favorites local restaurants, entertainment spots, etc.

Dirty clothes:  About half way thru the week of clothes, we condense our bags and one of our backpacks is the “dirty” bag and one if the “clean” bag.  We often bring a kitchen size garbage bag with us and roll our dirty clothes into that and place the bag into one of the backpacks  This way, there isn’t dirty clothes funk smeared all over the inside of your backpack…which would be smeared all over your newly cleaned clothes.  If you forget your garbage bag…no worries, most hotels have a plastic laundry bag hanging on a hanger in the closet.  If not, many hotels have small trash bags under the trash bag in the garbage can.  These are especially useful for wet bathing suits or soggy socks that you don’t have time to dry.

Tightwad Tip #1:  Depending on the country you are visiting, it may be cheaper and easier for you to bring along your own laundry detergent.  Filling up an empty 3.0 oz bottle with laundry detergent is generally cheaper than the pre-packaged sachets in the travel section of a store.  This also allows you to wash a few loads vs. single load washing.  Also, the more condensed the laundry detergent…the better!

Tightwad Tip #2:  Duty Free bags are gifts from the Travel Gods!  In some countries (much of Europe, parts of Africa, parts of Asia)…items you purchase at the airport are not included in your carry-on/personal-item allowance. Only wanting to buy a pack of gum?  Ask the cashier if you can have a LARGE Duty-Free bag to put the pack of gum in.  Some may look at you weird and just give it to you.  Others may charge you a little bit…but, these bags are generally sturdy and well worth the extra charge.  We have shoved our toiletries, souvenirs, iPad’s, etc into these bags.

Tightwad Tip #3:  Get caught in a rainstorm?  Shoes soaked?  Blow dryers in hotel rooms are perfect to quickly dry those soggy items so they can be nice and dry for that early morning flight!

What about you?

How do you normally pack for a long trip? Would you be able to get by on just a backpack of clothes for two weeks?

We’d loved to hear your thoughts!

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