Mascot Suitcase - obverse

If MacGyver (the fictional ex-secret agent of the 1980s hit TV series of the same name) could make a bomb with bubblegum, tin foil and a toothpick, surely we common folk can pack properly for a weekend getaway. There’s nothing worse than lugging around heavy bags half- filled with unnecessary items. You pay more baggage fees, the luggage is cumbersome, you have little room for souvenirs, and you look like a novice. Here are a few Travel Junkie tips on how to pack smart.

  • Check the weather forecast for your destination before packing. Even if it’s sweltering hell hot, don’t forget to pack a sweater. (Pet peeve: why do they crank the air conditioning in the plane to freezing? So damn cold!) Everything these days is over air-conditioned, so be prepared with a light to medium-weight cover-up.
  • When it comes to packing, just think “less is more.” Only pack what you definitely need. It’s a globalized world and you can buy practically anything you’ve left at home.
  • Pick two colors of clothing to mix ’n match during your vacation. Not only does this make picking out an outfit easy, you only need to bring a couple pairs of shoes to match.
  • Wear layers and pack in layers. Pack light-weight, neutral-colored clothing that is versatile, doesn’t wrinkle or show dirt (such as brown, black, or tan). I like to travel with older clothes, so I can donate them and buy new ones as I go.
  • Pack comfortable shoes. Exploring the city will be easier and much more comfortable in good shoes. Now is the time to start breaking in the pair(s) you plan to wear on your next trip. Also pack one pair of shoes that can be worn to a nice dinner or dance club if duty calls. I’m notorious for wearing rubber Havaiana flip flops through all terrain from dunes to dive bars. I also like Tieks, because they’re fashionable and functional. You can easily slip them on and off when going through airport security and they remind me of ballerina slippers (which bring me back to my ballerina days as a wee tyke).
  • Bring a pashmina or a sarong. it will keep you warm in air-conditioned buildings. It also doubles as a headscarf when visiting religious institutions, a beach cover-up or as an extra blanket on airplanes.
  • Put scented dryer sheets between your clothes when packing to keep them smelling fresh during travel.
  • When packing, roll your clothing (lay flat and roll tightly from bottom to top) to save space and prevent wrinkling. Also, when you get to your hotel or apartment, unpack as soon as possible to further prevent wrinkles. For lazy ironers like me, if your clothes are wrinkled when you unpack, turn the shower on, shut the door, hang up your clothes and let the hot steam de-wrinkle your clothing.
  • Pack underwear, socks, jewelry or other small personal items in a transparent Ziplock bag for quick, easy access to those small items in your luggage.
  • Carry all valuables and must-have items in your carry-on bag: money and credit cards, jewelry, expensive camera gear, computers, medication, a small bottle of contact lens solution, reading glass- es (anything you can’t live without upon arrival). This way, if your checked bag is temporarily lost by the airline, you’ll still have all your essentials. Bring all necessary doctor and insurance information and Rx prescriptions with you on your trip, just in case you need to refill.
  • Wear your heaviest or bulkiest shoes, sweaters and jackets on the plane. That way, you don’t have to pack them.


For more tips like these please check out my book Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Travel is an insider’s look at how to travel smart and beat the system. In this book, I aim to inspire and empower future travel junkies to travel further, play harder, say “yes” to new experiences and channel their inner badass. I share tried-and-true travel tips and advice for the next generation of adventurers. With chapters on scoring cheap flights, maximizing air miles, using the best travel apps, surviving solo travel and staying safe on the road. Here’s the Amazon link: