these tips will help you stay stress free while packing for your next trip…


I do quite a bit of traveling these days, going to and from my university in Chicago to my family in Texas, and that means I spend a significant amount of time on airplanes.. The idea of flying back and forth used to cause me quite a bit of stress, but at this point I’ve worked out a system so that the whole packing and traveling experience is as stress-free as possible.

There are 4 main steps in my “system” that I’ll let you in on, plus I’ve included some in-flight tips for once you’re actually on the airplane.

Step #1 — Make a Packing List.

As I pride myself in being an organized person, this step is crucial to me… I like to list every single thing that I will possibly need, which sounds painstakingly meticulous, but I do not want to accidentally forget something I really need. 

If this process is unfamiliar to you, start by listing out all the days you’ll be on your trip, and what sorts of things you will be doing. For example — I need 4 casual outfits, 1  dressy outfit, and 4 nights worth of pajamas – then break it down piece by piece until you have it all covered. (Also don’t forget to write things like toiletries, underwear, electronics, etc)

Step #2 — Gather All Your Items You’re Taking.

At this point I like to pull all of the items out, fold them, and place them on my bed. This really helps me visualize how things are going to start to fit… Do I have a couple really bulky items? Are my clothes all relatively light? And most importantly… Do I have everything from my list?

Step #3 — Pack Your Suitcase.

Now I solely use a small carry-on suitcase for two reasons. First, I like to avoid the hassle of potentially losing my luggage. Second, I don’t like waiting at the baggage claim.

If I have bigger/bulkier items, I place those in my suitcase first. Then I typically roll my clothes in my suitcase as a space-saver, and stick them in around the bigger items. 

Now since I only take a carry-on, I try to put everything in my one suitcase so it makes the security process in the airport as painless as possible. Everything I might want out on the plane goes in here as well, including a small backpack that I can pull out once I’ve gotten through security. It is so much easier to just pull out my laptop at security, and slide my one bag through the machine than try to juggle different bags, and smaller items.

Step #4 — Transfer In-Flight Items to Backpack.

Once I’ve gotten through security I go to the bathroom (or find an unoccupied bench) and pull out my small backpack, plus any items I might want to have out/accessible on the flight. Typically for me this includes a book, my phone, wallet, boarding pass, headphones, gum, journal/notebook, writing utensil, and sometimes my Chromebook.

I put all of these items in the small backpack  so that I will have them within reach on the airplane after I’ve put my suitcase in the overhead storage.

Bonus — airport & In-Flight Tips.

So usually after I’ve gone through security, and pulled out my backpack – I go straight to my gate. I’ll grab a small snack/beverage either after I have successfully located my gate or en route to my gate. Then I just wait to board the plane (typically I’m just scrolling through various social medias at this time, or reading a book).

Once I’m actually on the airplane I try to find a window or aisle seat, stow my suitcase in the overhead compartment, and place my backpack below the seat in front of me. During the flight I am usually listening to music, reading a book, scribbling in my notebook, listening to Serial (I did this on my last trip and it made the time go by much faster), or watching something on my Chromebook.

These are all just things that work for me. On average, I probably go on 2 plane rides every couple of months so I’ve gotten pretty used to the rythm of it all. And like all things, the more you do it the more comfortable you’ll be so this probably explains why I no longer have anxiety over the whole process (security, flying, etc).

I hope these tips help you as you prepare for your next adventure!

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This post works in conjunction with the video “LIFE & SCHOOL TIPS: packing for a short trip” posted on Girls Actually’s Youtube.

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