No matter if you like to take a giant wardrobe with you, or even if you’re a minimalist, this is one of the best travel packing tips I’ve received: Use compression bags. You know those cheesy TV infomercials with those bags that you can hook up a vacuum to and it sucks out all the air, and ‘magically’ shrinks sweaters to the size of a nickel? Well these are similar, but instead of using house hold appliances, you seal up the bag, then roll out the excess air through a one way valve. This really cuts down on the amount of room clothes take up!
When packing, don’t pack your bag to the brim! More likely than not, you’re going to be buying souvenirs of some sort. (I’m a T-shirt souvenir kinda guy.) You need to have room for them in your bag on the way back home. Try leaving at least a 1/4 to a 1/3 of your bag available for room to grow.
Consider trying to make everything fit into a carry-on size bag, and one “personal” carry-on item. Most airlines allow for a carry-on that measures 22″ by 16″, and at least one “personal carry-on” item (i.e., purse, or medium-sized day pack that can fit under airplane seat). It makes going through the airport MUCH easier, and you’re guaranteed that your bag is going to make it to your destination along with you.
A backpack is your best friend. With all of those flights, trains, and checking in and out of hotels you’re going to be doing, a backpack is going to make your life soooo much easier than hauling those clumsy wheeled bags! Personally, I prefer the travel packs that have a detachable day pack. This allows for you to have just ONE bag to worry about when you’re hopping on and off trains, walking to your hotel, taking cabs, etc. Osprey’s Farpoint series of packs are awesome! The Farpoint 55 is lightweight, with comfortable and ultra supportive straps, and fits within carry-on specifications. They have a lifetime, unlimited warranty, and they’re just all around great packs!!
For whatever luggage you’ve decided on, buy TSA approved luggage locks for them, and your day pack as well. If a would-be pick pocket sees that, chances are, they’ll move on to an easier target. Now don’t let that scare you. Most places you go aren’t going to be hives of scum and villainy, but there are always people who make their living by preying on unprepared tourists… Which is not going to be you!