How to Pack Light for a Bus or Plane Trip

Going on a vacation can be fun and exciting, but being weighed down by lots of bags is not. If you want to make your trip lighter and easier, try these suggestions.

Make sure you are aware of all the restrictions for luggage. This includes the number of bags you’re allowed to take on the bus or plane as well as the size guidelines. For example, at this time, Greyhound allows passengers one free checked bag of up to 50 pounds and one small bag up to 25 pounds on board. The on board bag must be able to fit in an overhead compartment or under your seat. If you are not sure of the size of an overhead compartment, call the airline or bus company and ask.

Write a list of items that are essential. Essential items are things you absolutely need while you are gone, such as medications, a work computer, a phone, a wallet or purse and clothing. Make a second list that has non-essential items that you would like to take. Put the non-essential list aside for now.

Set out one bag to carry on and one to check. Open them and remove anything inside them that you will not need for your trip. Make sure the bags meet the size requirements. If you find that one of both of your bags do not meet the size requirements either select different bags or borrow/buy others.

Review your list of essential items. Consider such factors as what items may be available at your destination for you to use. For example, your hotel might provide shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc. If there is no problem with you using these hotel provided items, that is less you will need to pack. Go through your list and remove everything you know will be provided for you. If you are uncertain what will be at your disposal, call your hotel or the place you will be staying to find out.

Think about your clothing needs. What will the weather be like there? Will you have easy access to a washer and dryer? Will there be someone to do your laundry, and how often? If doing laundry will not be much of a hassle, you can get away with packing fewer clothes. Dark clothes will not show stains as easily as light clothes, so try to pack more darks than lights or all darks. Consider wearing an unstained piece of clothing twice before washing it. This will cut your laundry needs in half as well as reduce the amount you need to pack.

Pack as few pieces of clothing as you can. Usually, for a trip of 2 weeks or less, 6 shirts and 4 pairs of pants or skirts is enough if you can do laundry once a week. If you only wear dresses, pack 5 dresses instead. Remember you will already have an outfit on that can be worn again. Take a week’s worth of underwear and socks, and several sets of sleep clothes. If you’ll need a coat, plan to wear the coat instead of packing it if possible. Put gloves and a toboggan in the coat pockets if you will need them. Pack sturdy shoes in a neutral color such as black or gray. Try not to pack more than 2 pairs, and take different styles to accommodate your needs. (formal shoes, hiking boots, etc.) For travel days, wear a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes.

Lay your large items of clothing on a flat surface and roll them up for packing instead of folding them. This will save space, which will reduce the number of bags you need to take. Begin adding your other needed items on top of and on the sides of your clothes.

If your essential items all fit into the 2 bags with space to spare, you can begin to add non-essential items. If your items will not all fit into your bags, you will have to reduce them or take an additional bag. Try to keep that as a last resort, though, as you will probably have to pay a fee for this.

If your trip is a week or less, you can probably take even less clothing and might only need a carry-on bag. Do a trial run packing the carry-on just to be sure.

Greyhound baggage information source:

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