One of the biggest speed bumps that I have met along the road of my travels is not staying organized. I go through phases even at home where I am really clean and then I let my space get trashed before I clean it again and that used to be the same way for my travel backpack. Whenever I look back on my habits of doing things, I wince because they didn’t help me set my trip off on the right foot mentally since I had a bunch of things to keep track of. A cluttered bag or space equals a cluttered mind.
Along the road, I have solved my cluttering issues with the tips below that will helpfully help those of you who struggle with keeping your things organized. I think I ended up with way more tips than I had originally planned and that goes to show just how much I had to do to get on the right foot, but that’s good for you to have all these tips under your belt for the next time you go on a trip; no matter if it’s overseas or a weekend trip to the city.
Prepare Your Bag Day & Night
Whether you’re just waking up or planning for a good night’s rest, making sure that all of your things are neat is probably one of the best tips on this post. This is a habit I learned from staying in hostels since it’s always important to lock up your things in them. After being in hostels so much, I have adopted this method even when I am staying in my own room. I don’t always pack up my full bag now, but I do make sure that everything is neat and not in a disarray all over the room. It’s essentially like keeping your room clean while you’re away in a sense.
I generally travel with two bags, so I’ll have the daypack that I will prepare in the morning and my bigger bag that I will organize things and make sure that everything is rolled nicely and prepared for when I get back. I always keep my toiletries in the bathroom since I use them every day because it would be a hassle to pack them away every night. Keep the things that you aren’t using daily tucked away and keep the everyday items that you use out of your bag and in the proper spots.
Don’t Hoard Trash
Have you ever had that moment when you go to pay at a restaurant and you finish signing or getting your change, receive your receipt, and immediately toss it into the black hole compartment of your backpack? Because I for sure have done this (and still do this) way too many times. With various excursions and other opportunities for payment receipts and tickets, these can add up exponentially over the course of your trip and end up taking over your entire bag. Then, next thing you know, you’re rummaging through a sea of trash in your bag. Throw it out or keep them in an organized spot like a wallet or travel journal so that you don’t run into this and don’t keep what you don’t need.
Keep Money In Wallet Or Safe Space
I know what you’re thinking, “well, duh, where else would you put it”? Get this. So whenever I traveled a year ago I would keep all of my cash and things in a book. A. Book. Why you may ask? Well, as much as I do love investing in items that I will use for a very long time, I haven’t owned a wallet for as long as I can remember. I have since perfected the art of finding alternatives for it so that I don’t need to purchase one. This has turned into so many situations where my money was sprawled out all over the ground and inside my bag. Imagine going to pay for something and opening up a book only for you to fumble grabbing what you need or just reaching into a random pocket in your bag for bills and spare change. As I write this I still do not have a wallet, but I am ordering one because I know that it will release this giant weight off my back for my next trip. Do yourself a favor and invest in a nice wallet and don’t put it off lol.
Don’t Pack Too Much
The first backpack that I purchased for my travels was an Osprey Farpoint 40L Backpack. I chose this pack because it allowed me to travel minimally and have the ability to check it or take it as a carry-on if I needed to. It has been my tried and true for a while now and really helps me narrow down the things to bring along with me on my travels. The pockets are very well placed and simple too so I don’t have to go on a scavenger hunt when it comes to finding things I need.
If you struggle with overpacking, challenge yourself with a smaller pack so that you can have less space to fill up. Everyone has their own definition of traveling light, but if you find yourself shuffling through a bunch of stuff and losing things, it might be time to shave off a few items. There are many ways to narrow down items like choosing clothing items that you can make multiple outfits out of and finding toiletry items that have more than one use. There are so many ways to pack lighter and once you find your sweet spot for what you need, you’ll find staying organized is easier than ever.
Load Your Bag The Same Way Everytime
Since I am a creature of habit, it only felt fitting to include this one in my list of tips. I think everyone on this planet comes back from their trip with way more than they went there with and it can cause a little bit of head scratching when it comes to packing it all away to go home. Having an order of what you pack is going to help you remember what pockets things are in and where certain items are. Also, it’ll help you pack faster and that is always a plus.
Put Things Away Instead Of Shoving Them Into A Pocket
Uh, okay so who else is guilty of this besides me? I am bad about this on and off the road and it’s really something that I am trying to work on. I recently got a new day backpack to carry my things in and you wouldn’t even imagine the things that end up in the most random spots and how fast they pile up. Right now, I have around eight different types of currency change jingling at the bottom of my bag because I was going to go and get it exchanged since I have so much and the bag broke leaving me with this huge mess that I don’t even want to look at lol. I want to start actually putting my receipts and change in a wallet (whenever I get one) so that this never happens again.
If you take the extra time after acquiring new things to put them in the correct spots, it’s going to save you so much headache during your trip and you’re not going to have to go back and organize things multiple times.
Only Pack What You Know You’ll Need
For all of my over packers out there, I think this tip is going to help immensely. Whenever I am packing, I like to go through a list in my mind about what I would think I would need and make notes of what I for sure don’t need. I don’t know that I ever pack too many things that I never end up using, but I have packed things that I never ended up wearing. While I was packing I would think to myself, “What if (insert scenario here)” and I would end up bringing along something that I didn’t need, only for it to end up untouched throughout the entirety of my trip. I had to see it every time I opened my bag always asking myself why I brought it along. While you’re packing, always ask yourself if the item is something you’re really going to use (depending on your trip) and you’ll realize that you’re going to pack less and that you didn’t need as much as you thought you did.
Pack The Essentials For Day Trips
Like I mentioned before, I do travel with two bags. One being my camera bag and the other being my Osprey Farpoint 40L that carries all of my clothing, etc. inside of it. I used to carry around my camera bag (which tripled as my in-flight, camera, and day pack) around with me everywhere and I would be carrying all of this unnecessary weight with me no matter where I went. So, I have begun making it a habit to go through the items that I don’t and do need for the day and leaving what I don’t need in my room. It leaves me with less to worry about and less to rummage through.
Make Designated Pockets For Certain Items
I recommend choosing these whenever you get into the habit of packing your bag. I travel with a lot of electronics most of the time, so it helps to have spots for chargers, batteries, accessories, etc.. Generally I separate those into pouches and then I’ll put them into one larger pack for extra optimization lol. I like using the internal pockets as well for my passport, money, etc.. It is so frustrating to have to rummage through a bunch of stuff to find something, so if you already know where everything is you won’t have that hassle.
In this digital era, finding ways to store your documents online is the most efficient way of storing them. However, I always recommend keeping around a photo and a copy of your passport on hand just in case. Obviously, you never know what is going to happen, and having my passport in the favorites album in my phone makes purchasing flights and filling out documents so much easier since I don’t have to pull out my passport every time I need to do so. With your flight, accommodation, and excursion information, I recommend doing the same. As you begin planning your trip, printing out these confirmations is going to waste a lot of paper and it’s going to be a hassle to have to flip through them whenever you need to find them. So, there are a few things that I do with the documents that help me stay organized.
- Use The Booking Sites’ Apps On Your Phone – I like to keep my phone neat with as little apps as possible, so whenever I wasn’t traveling I used to just delete the apps that didn’t need off my phone, but as my travels picked up this ended up wasting time and I ended up keeping all of them on my phone. I book using Airbnb, Hostelworld, and Agoda, so those are on my phone at all times and there are other essential apps that I keep in a neat little folder. By doing this, it’s a whole lot easier to switch from booking online to in the app.
- Organize Emails Into Folders – If you’re really into the organization like I am, you can make separate folders for flights and accommodation for extra neatness lol. Plus, whenever you go to your email now, you’ll have all of your information stored in easily accessible folders that pop up below your inbox. This also helps if you have thousands and thousands of emails (I personally don’t as I would get incredibly stressed out, but for those of you who like to collect your emails abundantly, you’re welcome lol).
- Screenshots – Okay, we all know this one by now lol.
- Keep Photos In A New Photo Album – Since you’ll be screenshotting all of these before your trip begins, depending on what type of traveler you are, make a new photo album on your phone to organize all of these photos into that way you know exactly where they are and you won’t have to scroll through tons of photos to reach your documents.
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Let me know in the comments below what habits help you stay organized.
Until next time,
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