Being in a long distance relationship rewarded me in many ways. I learned to be more patient, compromise, and fight for the things that are worth it. What I didn’t expect was that I would become more practical. I learned how to find the best flight deals (we had to because at that time, the only asset we had was love) and became an expert in packing light.
The best flight deals don’t allow checked-in luggage. Even if they did, I discovered that travelling is much more satisfying whenever I am able to jump on a bus/train without asking anyone’s help to get in my luggage!
So, I’d like to share my essential tips and tricks on how to fit everything into a carry-on suitcase when you are going to meet your long distance sweetheart (assuming you aren’t planning a backpacking trip to a place that needs special additions, but preparing for few days of sightseeing followed by romantic dates in the evenings).
Where to start?
Choose the bag!
Go for a soft-sided carry-on bag instead of a hard-sided one. Cheap airlines usually have designated boxes (carry-on sizes) where they ask you to fit your bag and prove that it matches their size requirements. A soft-sided bag is a safer option. Also, make sure that your bag fits the size requirements of the airlines you use before purchasing it. Check out this article awesome carry-on luggage size chart for more than 150 airlines before buying your next luggage.
Personally, I prefer a hard-sided luggage (just because I find them more beautiful), and I always used it whenever I met my man in urban locals. Having said that, I used to make sure beforehand that I would have to travel only to the airport and our hotel without having to carry it all over the city or climb up and down the hills (I sure learned my lesson after wandering hilly Porto several years ago with my four-wheeler bag).
With wheels or without?
I used to take a 40L backpack whenever we trekked into nature or our travel plans involved more than rejuvenating lounge at a hotel swimming pool. Keep in mind that a comfortably packed backpack removes tons of stress and allows you to enjoy travelling without worrying about fitting your luggage into small spaces. Don’t be scared that you won’t be able to fit in everything you need, because we tend to pack much more than we actually need.
How to pack light (and right)?
1. First and foremost, check the weather forecast so you can start making a list of must-haves.
2. Think about what NOT to take. Here’re my suggestions:
* Your perfume bottle. Instead, get Travalo. It’s a mini refillable spray bottle which can be used for extracting perfume from the original bottle. This tiny bottle is great addition to your travel bag AND handbag.
* Shampoo and conditioner. If you are visiting your babe, you can use all of their bathroom necessities. If you are planning to stay in a hotel, you can expect to find small bottles of shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner in the bathroom. If you are like me, and believe your world will fall apart if you don’t take your conditioner with you, buy a mini travelling set before you go. They are light, allowed in a carry-on, and almost don’t take any space.
* If you have plenty of hair and body care products, say no to 95% of them when travelling and use only one hair product and one body lotion. I am well known for getting sunburnt anytime and anywhere, so I always carry a SPF lotion instead of a normal one.
3. Consider investing into packing cubes. It will help to keep your outfits neatly folded and avoid getting them messed up. I only use slim packing cubes when I use a backpack and plan to travel for a longer time. You know that feeling when you have to empty your backpack every evening because you can’t find your underwear? Packing cubes are great if you want to avoid wasting time unpacking and repacking every night. Having said that, I find them useless when it comes to luggage.
4. Bring only 2 pairs of shoes. Wear comfortable walking shoes and pack a pair of formal high heels. If you are going to a hot climate, throw in a pair of slippers/sandals. It will save you if your feet are sore after too much of walking (and it will barely take any space).
5. Get few sets of clothes in pale colors and make sure that every piece matches every other piece. If you want to create your own travel capsule wardrobe, check out this article.
6. Pack layers. Instead of getting one bulky sweater for a cold night, get a blouse or a T-shirt you can wear during the day, then a small jacket or a light sweater and a leather jacket which could be worn on top at night.
7. Roll your clothes instead of folding them. I do it because it leaves the least amount of wrinkles. Additionally, rolled clothes occupy the least amount of space in your bag.
8. Leave some cosmetics and accessories in each other’s house, so every time you visit each other, you don’t have to carry the things you use the most.
9. Get only 3-4 pieces of underwear and wash them if you need more.
10. Take ONLY essentials. If you are going for few days or a week, you won’t need face masks, waxing stripes, or a sewing kit. Don’t try to predict every situation that might arise. When it comes down to it, you can always buy the things you need. Being completely prepared is a bit boring and takes away the possibility of adventure!
11. Bring only few pairs of trousers (and wear the heavier ones when travelling). I always pack few pairs of black skinny jeans. That way I know that I can spend the day exploring the city wearing jeans and a tank top, and then bring a nice blouse. All you need is a public bathroom for a quick change of wardrobe before you go to a nice dinner. That way, you can skip the trip back to the hotel.
Exclusively for girls:
1. Pack few jumpsuits. They are much lighter, take less space, and look beautiful!
2. Pack more accessories than clothes. This way you will be able to bring in completely new look to the same outfit you wore the previous day (or create an evening look, even if you are wearing a day blouse).
3. If you want to have clothes for a night out, pack few blouses for the evening which you could use along with your skinny jeans, or get a little black dress which will work perfectly if you have a special occasion.
5. And finally, be original: think about accessories that won’t require (almost) any investments from you, but will make you stand out in the crowd: consider purchasing a fashionable backpack. If you have long hair, discover new ways to do your hair. It’s completely free but will make sure to give you different looks, even if you wear the same clothes few days in a row! Get more hair accessories and cheap bracelets or necklaces, too.
And the final piece of advice which I learnt over extensive travelling: less is more when you are on the road. Whenever I used to travel with a bigger bag, I noticed so many things went unused during the trip. Don’t pack too much and enjoy the freedom!