I’m a Self-Professed Packing Geek

I love to pack for a trip.  Packing helps me to envision what I will be doing and where I will be going, and that’s exciting.  Being an A-type personality, I take my packing routine very seriously.  I believe I finally have it down to an art.  The key is to stay light and stay organized.

I bring two bags:  My MEC Fastrack Rolling Duffle , and my Lowepro Backpack/camera bag.  After years of trial and error, I think these two bags are perfect for my needs.  I purchased both at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

My suitcase gets checked, and my backpack never leaves my side.  Here’s how I organize them:

What I Pack in My Backpack:

– one light change of clothes (in case my suitcase gets lost)

–  small cosmetics case (which holds medication and other personal necessities)

–  ipad

–  camera (Olympus Pen)

–  Solio Solar Charger (that’s the yellow thing that clips onto my backpack)

– trip documents

– pad and pen

– iphone

– wallet

– sunglasses


What I Pack in My Duffle Bag (besides clothes and shoes):

– In the outside front pocket, I pack a light rain jacket.

– My Fossil Train Case – I LOVE my train case.  Inside, I pack anything I would use in a bathroom, like toothbrush, shampoo, laundry soap, deodorant, etc), then once I’m in the hotel, the case goes into the bathroom and boom, I’m done.  This is especially handy if you’re sharing a bathroom.  It keeps all your things neatly in one place so you aren’t hogging space from your roommate.

Train Case (goes in the duffle bag) and cosmetic case (goes in the backpack)

Train Case (goes in the duffle bag) and cosmetic case (goes in the backpack)

– 2 small Packing Cubes

One cube for first aid kit, bug spray, travel towel, anti-microbial bag, etc. and the other for electronic small gadgets, chargers and cords

One cube for first aid kit, bug spray, travel towel, anti-microbial bag, etc. and the other for electronic small gadgets, chargers and cords

– 1 medium packing cube for underwear and bathing suit

– 1 large packing cube for clothes

– And depending on the trip, I might take the awesome Lululemon Fanny Pack my daughter gave me for Christmas years ago, and a lightweight, packable backpack for day trips.  If my trip includes a lot of hiking, these two items are very useful.

Lululemon Fanny Pack and Windriver packable backpack

Lululemon Fanny Pack and Windriver packable backpack

Over the years, I’ve learned there are some things I hadn’t thought about, but they’re a good idea to pack.  Some of those are listed in my Top Ten Travel Buddies post.

I have a large packing tote at home marked “travel”.  Inside is a stockpile of travel size toiletries, electronic converters and adapters, backpacks of various shapes and sizes, and all sorts of crazy travel items from a hat with a full face bug screen, to a hotel room one-cup coffee maker.  I have to admit, I have a slight addiction to the “travel-size” section at Shoppers Drug Mart.

To me, packing for a trip is a fun part of travel.  It becomes a challenge to keep the weight light (and avoid extra airline fees), and at the same time pack everything I will need.

Packing Tips I’ve Learned Over the Years:

– Gather all your torn and ripped undies, and pack them for your trip.  Then instead of washing them or stowing dirty undies, just throw them away and make room for souvenirs!

– Don’t pack pajamas.  Sleep in a t-shirt.

– Don’t fold your clothes.  Roll them.  They’ll get less wrinkled.

– Pack a light rain jacket in the front pocket of your suitcase.  If you end up at your destination airport during a heavy rain, it will save you from unpacking and rummaging through your suitcase, before you go outside to find a cab.

– Tie a short, colourful ribbon to your luggage handle.  This will make it easier to spot your suitcase at the carousel.  Don’t make the ribbon too long – it could get tangled in the conveyor belt.

– Clip a carabiner to your backpack.  You never know when you’ll need it to attach a jacket, airline pillow, teddy bear.

– Pack your heavier items (shoes) closest to the wheels if you have a rolling duffle.

– Use packing cubes!

– Be aware of airline weight restrictions, and weigh your suitcase before you leave the house.

– If you’re afraid your suitcase is too close to the weight limit, wear a jacket with a couple of large pockets, or bring a purse, and be prepared to transfer a few small heavy items (guide book for example) – it’s better than paying a fee.  I was once threatened with a $100 fee for being a pound over!

– Place a card with your name, address and cell phone number, plus the info of your arrival hotel on top of your main suitcase compartment (or in the sleeve provided on the outside of your suitcase).  If your suitcase gets lost, airport personnel will know how to reach you.

– Remember, pack all liquids and sharp items (nail file) in your suitcase, and NOT your carryon.  Your airline website will list the restrictions for carryon if you’re unsure.

– If you have anything liquid in a plastic bottle (sunscreen for example), the bottle may expand due to a change in air pressure, and can burst all over your clothes!  To avoid this, make sure your bottles are not completely full, and pack all liquids inside a ziplock bag.








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