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The past year has been a long one for all and sundry. The pandemic has kept billions of individuals cooped up in quarantines all over the world. Now that things are starting to improve, many have vacations on the brain.

If you’re feeling the itch to travel again, the thought of packing may be intimidating you. A year spent in isolation can make it difficult to remember what you need for a trip. Of course, overpacking isn’t a desirable alternative, either. It can leave you weighed down as you drag your possessions from one place to the next.

If it’s been a while since you traveled, here’s a quick packing primer to help you get back into the swing of things before your next big trip.

1. Start with the Basics

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If you want to travel light, it’s important to start with the packing foundations. By gathering essential items first, you can gauge how much room you have left for additional or superfluous things. This is much easier than working backward by sorting through a trio of giant, overstuffed suitcases as you retroactively look for things to leave behind.

Start with your toiletries. This should include basic items like:

  • A toothbrush and toothpaste;
  • Deodorant;
  • A brush and/or razor;
  • Beauty creams and lotions;
  • Shampoo and conditioner;
  • A bar of soap.

Consider other items unique to you, as well. For instance, you might need to bring your contact case and solution.

Of course, the other major essential item is your clothing. Before you start stuffing your suitcase with whatever you find at the top of your drawers, though, slow down and think things through…

2. Limited Clothing

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Clothing is the number one issue with overpacking. It’s tempting to bring a pair of jeans for every day of your trip. You might want to bring multiple shirts to allow for a quick change before getting dinner out on the town. If it’s going to be cold at your destination, of course, you should pack three different sweaters.

Thoughts like these can turn a slim, well-organized suitcase into a disaster waiting to unfold, literally. Instead, put some thought into your clothing.

Start by considering your destination. Are you traveling somewhere hot or cold? Posh or down to earth? Local, domestic, or international? Urban or rural? Questions like these can help you get a feel for the local culture and customs of where you’ll be staying. This makes it easier to identify clothing that you don’t need to bring with you.

Next, embrace the concept of a capsule wardrobe. This is often brought up in connection with a person’s entire clothing ensemble. However, it applies to an individual trip, as well.

A capsule wardrobe consists of a curated and specific collection of clothing. These should be timeless and applicable to multiple different scenarios and situations. Look for a shirt or blouse that can double both for a work meeting and a casual night out. The same goes for pants, socks, shoes, and so on. Select colors that fit your personal style, too.

The ultimate goal is to bring a small collection of clothing that you can wear in an endless combination of outfits. These can be tailored to the formal or relaxed nature of each occasion.

As you narrow your capsule clothing selection down, pack only the absolute essentials and leave the rest behind.

3. A Safe Form of Payment

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Along with basic luggage items, you also want to consider how you’ll pay for things. Cash is often preferred. However, this can get tricky (and expensive!) if you’re moving between international borders and exchanging money into different currencies.

Another option is to find a debit card that works well overseas like Chime. A good payment card should come with a mobile app that allows you to turn international transactions on and off as you go. It should also make it easy to cancel a card if it’s stolen or lost.

You may also want to find a card-based option that works with mobile payments. Hooking a card up to your Google Pay or Apple Pay apps can make it even easier and safer to make each transaction. Just remember to research if your destination accepts mobile payments beforehand.

4. Selected Travel Tech

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No 21st-century individual can go far without their personal tech close by. While there are many travel gadgets that you can use on a trip, though, it’s wise to carefully consider what you bring.

Much like clothing, if you weigh yourself down with too many things, it can impact your trip. You’ll end up spending all of your time lugging too much stuff around, searching for chargers, and worrying about your items being stolen.

Instead, choose each tech item on purpose. Bring your phone, but make sure it’s set up for international calls and texts. If you’re flying, consider bringing headphones. You may want to bring a tablet, kindle, or laptop, as well. However, resist the urge to bring all three unless you have to.

In addition, a portable charger is a nifty item to have nearby. You can even consider killing two birds with one stone by getting a piece of luggage with a built-in charger. If you’re traveling internationally, consider bringing an adapter for wall-plug chargers, too.

There are many things that you should consider bringing with you when traveling. This has always been the case. However, it’s more poignant than ever as we come out of isolation together.

As you prepare to travel again, don’t just throw whatever you can think of into a suitcase. Slow down and draw up some packing plans. Start with basics like your toiletries and choose minimal clothing that is all versatile. Find a safe form of payment, as well, and select a limited number of tech gadgets to bring along with you.

If you can follow this advice, you’ll be able to have everything you need on your next trip. At the same time, you’ll be able to keep your luggage comfortably packed and your step as light as a feather as you move from point A to point B throughout your travels.

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