How to Pack Lighter, Smarter, and Faster (Lessons From A Globe-Trotting Missionary)
If there’s one thing that comes with the territory of ministry, it’s travel! As I prepare to travel back to the Philippines in just 8 days, I thought it would be fun to share some of my best practices when it comes to planning for travel.
Chances are you and the family are planning some vacation or holiday trips in the next few months. Whether you’re going on a three-day business trip or preparing for a two-week vacation, here are some guidelines for maximizing suitcase space, minimizing your load and cutting down on frustrations!
Tip #1: Mark you bags to make them easy to find
At the end of your long journey, the last thing you want to do is wait for your checked bags at baggage claim. Instead of fighting someone else or questioning whether that is your bag, mark it. I like to mark mine with bright colorful duck tape. It’s also nice to have a uniquely designed luggage tag (incase the tape comes off).
Tip #2: Are you prepared?
I like to double-triple-check everything the night before I fly anywhere. Are my bags completely packed? Is my passport, plane ticket, I.D. in my purse? I make sure everything I need for check-in at the airport is easy to access and safe. I’ve heard horror stories of friends having to rush home because they forgot their passport! After checking in, make sure you have your ID/Passport and ticket in your hand or nearby to be checked by security. As I stand in line preparing for security check, I remove my shoes (flip-flops/sandals), take off my jacket, pull out my laptop, and remove all jewelry and items from my pockets (phone, ID, keys, etc) and place them in my purse. By the time I reach the conveyer belt I’m ready to place everything in the tubs and walk through security. I don’t ever get double checked (anymore).
Tip #3: Roll, roll, roll
Want to make sure you have enough space in your checked bag? Want to keep your clothes wrinkle free and easy to find? Roll them! I like to keep my clothes separate from my other stuff so I can immediately find what I’m looking for when I go into my bag. I open my bag, find the shirt I’m looking for right on top, and shake it out.
Tip #4: Keep liquids in a quart sized bag in easy access in your carryon (For TSA check)
TSA is really picky about liquids and the security process. To make your life easier and flow smoother through security, make sure your liquid containers are no larger than 3.4 ounces and all fit into one quart sized Ziploc bag. I typically bring toothpaste, contact solution, hand sanitizer, and lotion. If you find yourself needing other toiletries you didn’t pack, they often sell them in airport shops. I like to bring an empty water bottle (these are neat https://www.walmart.com/ip/Outdoor-Products-1-0l-Foldable-Water-Bottle/23760387) so I can fill it up with my own water and not pay crazy airport prices.
Tip #5: Carry on only what you need (and value)
If, like me, you’re traveling for multiple days and hopping from one airport to another, you don’t want the extra hassle of heavy or multiple carryon bags. I have got it down to a science: a backpack and a purse. I make sure everything in my carry on is light (think collapsible or travel size). I also like to use carabiners to clip my neck pillow, blanket, jacket, etc. to the outside of my bag when I don’t want to carry them. Keep all valuables in your carry on bag in a safe place. Do not put valuables in your checked bag (ipad, phone, laptop, camera, jewelry, cash, etc.)! I use a small luggage lock on one of the zippers of my backpack to secure valuables in a particular section.
Tip #6: Don’t leave home without extra clothes
During my mission training days (2014-15), my director taught me to always bring an extra change of clothes in my carry on bag (underwear, shirt, shorts/pants, socks). He told us stories of his numerous adventures across the globe (100+ countries) and the times he was stuck living out of one pair of clothes because his luggage was lost. If you have an extra set of clothes, and have a missing bag for a few days, at least you can wear one while you wash the other.
Checked baggage fees, small overhead compartments, and long waits at baggage claim are just a few reasons it pays to pack light and be organized.
If your flight is canceled or delayed, or bags lost, (hopefully something you’ll never have to experience), having some basics in your bag can be the difference between getting on with your trip or spending a miserable night at the airport. While traveling to the Philippines I always travel as smart and conveniently as possible.
My hope is that these tips give you some insight into your own journey when it comes to travel!
Question: Are you traveling anywhere this upcoming season? I’d love to hear where you’re going and what you do to keep travel manageable. Leave a comment or write me back, I’d love to hear from you!
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