Ever go on a trip and then wish you had packed differently? Don't do it - pack smart the first time. These ten packing tips are important packing practices so that your personal belongings and new souvenirs will arrive with you back home in an organized, clean, and . . . unbroken condition.
Pack Your Belongings in Self-Sealing Bags, and Bring Extra
Any liquid toiletries should be placed in sealable bags so that your clothing will be protected from a possible shampoo or lotion explosion from changing pressure during the flight. In addition, placing clothing in bags, then squeezing out the extra air, will give you more room in your suitcase and keep like items together. Bring more of these bags along in case you do have an explosion or plan to shop while traveling.
Don't Pack Too Many Pairs of Shoes
Shoes are some of the bulkiest, heaviest, and hardest-to-pack items when you are traveling. So try to pack shoes that will do double-duty. Shoes that look great, but that are also comfortable, can take you from sightseeing to dinner.
Also remember to bring something to wrap the shoes in before they go back into your suitcase. A plastic grocery bag will keep the dirt from the streets off of your belongings.
Do Pack a Small Umbrella
A collapsible umbrella (the smaller, the better) that you can throw in your bag while going on excursions will keep you from getting wet during unexpected downpours. Disposable ponchos are also good to keep handy, if you don't mind walking around in the equivalent of a plastic bag with a hood.
Pack Some Tissue Paper or Bubble Wrap
More than likely, you'll be able to find enough newspaper or plastic to wrap purchased souvenirs in before you return home. However, in the event that you've snagged an especially delicate or valuable item, you'll want to be able to wrap it carefully for the return trip. A small package of tissue paper and a couple sheets of bubble wrap won't take up too much space in your luggage. In the event that you don't use it, you can always throw it away to avoid having to bring it back. Packing material will also come in handy if you plan to bring home bottles of alcohol.
Pack a Shawl, Wrap, or Light Jacket
If you're traveling to Eastern Europe during the summer months, having a light jacket or windbreaker, or pashmina shawl or wrap, can keep you comfortable when the sun goes behind the clouds or evening falls before you've gone back to your hotel. These items can be easily carried in a bag and won't suffer so much from wrinkles.
If You Are Going to See Orthodox Cathedrals, Pack Appropriately
Cathedrals belonging to the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity may prevent individuals who are not properly clothed from entering, so be prepared. For women, this means packing a headscarf and skirt. For men, slacks and decent shoes are okay.
Personal prescriptions, travel documents, and emergency numbers should go in a safe place in your luggage (carry-on, specifically). These should be the first things you pack and the last things you check for upon departure.
Pack All Valuables in Your Carry-On Luggage
Don't risk losing valuables or items you can't travel without (passport, visa, medications, etc.) and put them in your carry-on luggage. Of course, these days, you won't be able to get through airport security without your passport, but if you're taking jewelry or allergy medicine with you, you'll want to pack it in a carry-on bag so that it won't be lost in the event of misplaced baggage en-route.
Pack Items You Can Discard
Going hiking? Pack your old sneakers or boots. Pack an old sweater for emergencies. These items can be tossed when you're packing for your return trip and will save you room in your suitcase. They'll have served one last, honorable purpose and meet their demise after a great adventure.
Carry At Least One Hard-Sided Suitcase
Your valuables will thank you for carrying a hard-sided suitcase. Whether you choose to carry a hard-sided carry-on (which is smart if you don't have much upper-body strength - these bags can be heavy!), or use a hard-sided suitcase for your main luggage bag, you'll know that any souvenirs you purchase while traveling will probably have a better chance of withstanding the flight home intact.