How to Pack like a Pro

I don’t think the early nineties hip hop group House of Pain was singing about luggage problems, but that song has been going through my head ever since I started to pack my suitcase for a trip to San Antonio for the Texas Library Association’s Annual Conference.   

I am in no way an expert traveler, but I am pretty good at researching random topics, and I know that there is no problem that can’t be better understood after a trip to the library.

That said, I sifted through all the information I could find at the library and put together a top ten list that helped me get ready for my trip.  Here is a list of the suggestions that I found most helpful (in no particular order).

No Pain Packing Hacks

  • Limit Your Shoe Selection: Shoes occupy a lot of real estate in your suitcase, so try to limit yourself to a few pairs of versatile shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits.  Also, pack your socks and smaller items inside your shoes – no wasted space! 
  • Use Shoe Bags. This way, you won’t get your clean clothes marred by a dirty pair of shoes when you squeeze them closed. The bags can also be used for dirty or wet clothes in a pinch.
  • Pack Dual-Purpose Items: Choose clothing and accessories that can serve multiple purposes. Chances are you already know how to do this.  Think about all the times you dress accordingly for multiple events in a day when you can’t change your clothes. 
  • Choose the Right Suitcase: Wheels, Wheels, Wheels!  Unless you are backpacking across Europe, get yourself something with wheels.  You will thank me for this later.  Other desirable qualities in a suitcase include durability, compression straps and multiple compartments to help you organize your belongings more efficiently.
  • Pack Wrinkle-Resistant Clothing: Choose clothing made from wrinkle-resistant fabrics to minimize the need for ironing.  This might take a little more time to acquire, but my wardrobe has a lot of these items because I don’t like to iron anyway! 
  • Leave Room for Souvenirs: Who doesn’t love those “My boyfriend went to a library convention and all he brought back was a bunch of books” t-shirt?  If you plan on buying shopping during your trip, leave some extra space in your luggage or pack a collapsible bag to bring them home. 
  • Roll Your Clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them save space and prevents wrinkles. 
  • The Order You Put Your Clothes in Matters: Place heavier items like jeans and jackets at the bottom of your suitcase and lighter items like t-shirts and underwear on top. This helps distribute weight evenly and prevents wrinkles. 
  • Moderate your stress. You are not going to the Moon. The worst-case scenario, like a forgotten piece of clothing or toothbrush, can be solved by a quick trip to the store. Take a deep breath, and enjoy the journey. 
  • Wear Bulky Items: This is really important if you are traveling to a different climate.  If you're traveling with bulky items like boots or a heavy coat, consider wearing them instead of packing them in your suitcase to save space. You can always throw your coat over your shoulder or into an overhead compartment on a plane.

HCPL wishes you safe travels this summer. Drop us a postcard from some exotic destination or tag @harriscountypl on pictures of you reading on some remote mountaintop or tropical beach.

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If you're traveling abroad this summer, make sure your passport is still valid. If it isn't, we suggest visiting our Passport Services page.