Five Packing Tips for the Traveling Couple

If you’ve traveled anywhere with your significant other, there’s a good chance you’ve run into some luggage-related stress along the way.

Maybe you over-packed your one checked bag and had to scramble at the counter to stuff the extra weight into your carry-on. (“Did you really need to pack five pairs of shoes?”)

If you want to fight less on your next trip, the key is to pack less. It’s a simple concept, but is easier said than done.

“You need less than you think,” Kit Dillon, an editor at Wirecutter, the New York Times company that reviews products, said. “Your bag is lighter, you aren’t as preoccupied with keeping track of everything, and it’s easier to simply enjoy the present moment.”

If you’re unfamiliar, packing cubes are zip-up fabric containers, typically rectangular, which can help you better organize the contents of your luggage by compressing your clothes as you pack them. If you’re not already using them, you’re trading less packing space for more travel stress.

“We swear by our packing cubes,” said Adam Lukaszewicz, a founder of Getting Stamped, a travel blog he started with his partner, Hannah. “We still have our Eagle Creek packing cubes from five years ago, they have been the best brand so far.”

He added: “They’re small, inexpensive, and make packing and unpacking remarkably less stressful.”

And they are particularly useful for couples who share bags by making it easier to see whose things are where.

“If you’re sharing a suitcase you can assign different colors to each person so you easily know whose underwear is whose,” said Megan Jerrard, who writes of her travels with her husband, Mike, at Mapping Megan.

If avoiding checked luggage is your goal, you may want to house your new packing cubes in a new piece of carry-on luggage.

For most travelers, Mr. Dillon recommends the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 for its balance of size, price and reliability. Frequent travelers may also want to upgrade to the Briggs & Riley Baseline 22-Inch Domestic, which carries extra features, including expandable room. Both fit most standard overhead size regulations, Mr. Dillon said.

But the right bag depends on the type of trip as well.

“We have backpacks for hiking trips, suitcases for urban city travel and day bags for weekend trips or short one-nighters,” Ms. Jerrard said.

For journeys to remote locations, versatility is the most important attribute. Mr. Lukaszewicz uses an Osprey wheeled backpack for such trips.

“We rarely use the backpack straps and instead opt for the wheels but it’s great to have the option of backpack straps,” Mr. Lukaszewicz said. “We’ve used them when traveling to Koh Lipe, an island in Thailand only accessible by ferry, where you’d be dragging your luggage in the sand if you didn’t have a backpack.”

Packing less means you’ll need to get the most out of what you wear.

“Lay out your daily outfits and only bring what you really need and bring pieces that can make several outfits,” Mr. Lukaszewicz said. “Always pack layers and pieces you can easily mix and match no matter if you’re traveling to a tropical destination or off to the snow-capped mountains.”

Shoes are often a major space-drain, so it helps to decide in advance what you’ll actually need on your trip, rather than planning for every possible scenario.

“We typically travel with max two to three pairs of shoes each, being one pair of comfortable walking shoes, and a pair of sandals or something that can be dressed up if need be,” Ms. Jerrard said.

If you’re a couple who each has your own bag, whether it be carry-on or checked luggage, Ms. Jarred suggests splitting your items between the two, “so that if one bag is lost, one person hasn’t lost 100 percent of their wardrobe.”

There are a few small items to include in your bag that can help you get multiple wears out of your clothing.

Start with packing a spot cleaning pen, which you can typically find in the travel aisle of most drugstores, Ms. Jarred said. She also suggested a few items that can turn any bathroom into a mini laundromat, should you not have access to traditional laundry services. “Travel with a rubber stopper, and a little bit of washing liquid, as well as a line you can hang up to let them dry.”

To speed up the drying process, consider packing lighter clothes and, if you can, lay your clothes across your hotel room’s heater, Mr. Lukaszewicz said.

The idea of not bringing your own cellphone is probably too traumatic to ponder for more than a few seconds, so we won’t go there, but we will offer some tips to keep it and your data safe while you travel.

But you might want to consider consolidating other devices like personal laptops, chargers and cameras.

Mr. Dillon suggests investing in a plug-in USB hub that allows you to charge multiple devices at once. You’ll save on space and make your airport experience a little easier.

“Not only can you charge most of your electronics with one device, it’s perfect for those moments when you’re in an airport and everyone is camping on all the available outlets with single charge ports,” Mr. Dillon said.

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