Create a Grab-and-Go Carry-On
Do you dread packing? Or wish you could just find a great deal, book it and leave with little time to prepare? Why not keep a bag packed with all your necessities that will just require a few additions before heading out the door?
This idea is especially great for those who travel frequently or have little ones that make everything take more time than it should. There are always going to be items that you take on every trip, so start by making a basic packing list and go from there.
Toiletries. You pretty much use the same toiletries time and time again, so purchase some travel-sizes of your favorites and keep them packed. 3floz and Minimus are great places to get health and beauty products in tiny sizes that are perfect for your carry-on. If by some slim chance you cannot find your brand of shampoo or facial scrub, go to your nearest discount or drug store and get a few empty bottles and jars to fill up and put in your 3-1-1 bag.
When packing makeup, instead of waiting until you have used it the day you leave, pack items that are nearly empty – but good for one to two weeks more use- and use new ones at home. Chances are, you have already stocked up on a replacement before you are out and this way you do not waste the remainder of a product if you never make it to the bottom of the container. You can also save those samples you get at department stores and with online orders. Those are ideal for travel.
Undergarments. I have never gone anywhere without socks and underwear, so I doubt it is common among the majority of travelers to leave home without them. Purchase a half dozen of each solely to pack your travel bag. This way they are always in there and you do not get to your destination and have to go shopping for these important items. Look for clothing made of soy or bamboo, as they will be odor-resistant, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. Outdoor stores, like Columbia and REI, carry a good supply of underwear and socks in these types of fabric. If you can toss a spare swimsuit and flip flops in your bag as well, you are set for almost anywhere you go.
Charger for electronics. Everyone travels with at least a few electronics. Be it an iPod, laptop, mobile phone or an eBook reader, you are going to need to charge it at some point in your trip. Look for a multi-charger, like the iGo, that can charge all your gadgets with just one cord. This eliminates the last-minute scramble to find all your adapters and the inevitable knotted mass that you find upon making it to your destination. One cord with interchangeable tips is much easier to deal with, plus you can keep it in your bag at all times, because you have your other ones at home.
Convertible layers. You never know what the weather is going to be like when you travel. You could encounter a freak snowstorm, monsoon rains or even a heat wave. I always suggest bringing a fleece or similar pullover and several tanks or T-shirts that can be worn alone or underneath other clothing. When it is warm, one layer is probably more than enough, but if it is cold, you will be glad you packed that cardigan or sweater. Sometimes you may encounter weather that changes throughout the day. Keeping a few layers in your bag (remember to still pack light) ensures that you will always be ready for whatever the elements throw at you.
Packable jacket. This is another item I always pack to be prepared. Maybe it is 80 degrees and sunny where you are going, but that does not mean it will stay that way. A lightweight packable jacket is great for repelling rain, keeps your hands free like an umbrella won't, packs small and can double as an outer layer should it become chilly.
With the essentials in your bag already, you can easily throw in other items that you will need at the last minute, like a spare pair of shoes and several tops and bottoms that all go together. Four or five tops and three bottoms can make enough outfits for two weeks, and you can add some accessories to dress up basic pieces for going out. It makes packing a breeze and does not give you too much time to pack everything you own, which will also help you travel lighter.
About the Author
Shereen Rayle is author of the blog Shereen Travels Cheap and two budget travel books, including Secrets to Summer Savings. For years she has been planning her own vacations using the Internet to extend her limited budget as far as possible and shares the tips and tricks she has learned, along with useful sites like FareCompare.com, to help others get the most out of their travel dollars. And to further inspire budget travelers everywhere, she finds terrific travel bargains and posts them each day on her Facebook page.