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  • Writer's pictureJarmo Leppinen

Packing hacking

Updated: Nov 3, 2018

Packing is one of the dullest parts of traveling, but can be made easier. I have created myself two packing lists, one for shorts trips with carry-on bag only and other for longer trips. They are Word documents, so it is easy to modify them based on the trip needs. I start by copying the packing list and modifying it depending on how long the trip is and is it summer or winter. I mark how many socks, shirts etc. I need, do I need something special, like earplugs and a ticket for a concert and so on.

I usually start to choose and collect clothes at least couple of days before, so there’s time to wash them if needed. It is also good to check other items too, if there’s need to go shopping for toothpaste, medicine or such. The actual packing I usually start one to three days before the trip at the latest.

As there are always some things that are needed and can’t be packed until the very moment of leaving, like phone charger, the packing list makes it is easy to check that I have remembered the last items too.

Take it and leave it

If possible, I take a toothpaste, deodorant etc. that has enough left for the trip but less enough that it can be thrown away before return flight. Same thing with e.g. socks, if they are still usable but have a small hole, I take them with me, use once and throw away. This of course applies only when the holes or other defects are not visible, I don’t want to look like a hobo.

Liquids needs to be packed on a plastic bag for airport security control, but I use those bags for other small items too, like floss and medicine. I take only the amount I think I need and not the entire package. It is not necessarily large amount of space and weight these tricks save, but still something.

I can manages six days with backpack only, which covers most of my trips. Of course I can’t then take spare shoes or jeans, but it hasn’t been a problem this far. Not having large bag usually means cheaper flight tickets, but it also makes moving around much easier. If I arrive to my destination early or leave late, I can easily do sightseeing before checking in to the hotel and also after checking out, if I have just a backpack to carry.


  • Do you tend to forget to pack things? Make a list for packing, it easy to modify based on the trip length and type.

  • Start choosing clothes and other items in good time so there’s time to wash/shop if needed.

  • Do you have clothes that you think of throwing away soon but are still wearable? Take them with you, wear for one day and make room to your bag for the return trip.

  • When your deodorant/toothpaste etc. is running low, put it aside for your upcoming weekend trip instead of using it all the way. Again a little bit more room for souvenirs or less weight to carry.

  • Pack the things you need first in a way that they are easy to find. Liquids for airport security check, documents that you need before getting to hotel etc.

  • Shirts wrinkle less when rolled, not folded. When at the hotel, hang the shirts to the bathroom during a hot shower. That usually works quite well and there’s no need to iron them.

Some of these tips might be quite self-evident, but there are always articles about “how to pack right” and many times I don’t agree with some of their advice. For example “don’t take toothpaste with you, you can buy it when you get to your destination”. That works for a month long trip maybe, but not for a shorter trip, when you would have to carry an almost full tube of toothpaste back home and also waste time for shopping.

But despite all the advice, do what works for you!

Five days in Minsk, August 2017. No more stuff needed.

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