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You’ve done the easy part; you’ve browsed the best vacation deals online and made a spontaneous last minute booking. But now the clock is ticking, and you have a very short window of time to organize your packing!

Don’t stress!

Packing last minute can be very easy if you use the following tips.

How to Pack for a Last Minute Trip

Make a Checklist

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This tip might seem to be pretty basic, but people regularly overshoot the mark when packing, or forget to pack things because they’re running around in a last minute frenzy, throwing things into a bag without thought or focus.

Even though you’ve only got limited time to pack, it’s important to spend some of that time to sit down and calmly create a focused packing list.

Committing everything you need to memory is a recipe for mistakes and forgotten items, and thinking you can just toss things in a bag last minute and have it all work out will end in disaster.

Make sure your list includes the following:

Things to pack for a last minute trip

Toiletries: things like your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, nail clippers etc should make the list.

Beauty products: makeup, makeup removers, night-time routine washes and hair products. Click here for a printable list of makeup to travel with.

Clothing: underwear, socks, shirts, shorts or pants (depending on the weather), dresses, footwear, and accessories like scarves, gloves, hats and maybe a few modest pieces of jewellery).

Electronics: phone, camera, computer (if you feel you need it), adapter and e-reader, as well as all requisite chargers and cables.

Documents and Cards: passport, photo-copy of passport, alternate ID, credit and debit cards, health card (if traveling domestically) or travel insurance card (if traveling abroad).

Entertainment: Whatever books, magazines and/or downloadable content that’s going to keep you entertained!

The above is obviously just a rough guide, to be filled in with greater detail and customization by you, depending on your destination and the style of your trip (ie camping you’ll need additional gear – check this packing list).

Check the Weather Forecast

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If you’re packing for a last minute trip (or any trip for that matter), it’s absolutely essential to check the weather forecast. And, being that you’re probably leaving within the next week, if not tomorrow, the forecast should be pretty accurate.

The weather is the single factor most likely to positively or negatively affect your trip, though it’s also one of the things most travelers take for granted, and people quite often find themselves caught off guard.

What you pack in terms of clothing, footwear etc is ultimately going to be dictated by the weather at your destination. And don’t make assumptions as to what you believe the weather is going to be, always check.

Downloading a weather app before you leave is a great way to stay on top of the most recent forecasts. Click here to learn more about meteorology and how it affects your travels.

Get Appropriate Luggage

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Once you’ve made a checklist and checked the weather, you can decide whether you can fit everything in a carry-on, or if you’ll need to check a suitcase.

When you’re choosing a bag to travel with, ask yourself what type of luggage you will be carrying. A bag should protect its contents, so you need to consider what you’ll be packing, and choose a bag accordingly.

For short trips consider getting weekender bags that will limit what you carry. Bags with a soft exterior increase your capacity to add more stuff since they are able to stretch, while hard shell means you can’t stretch your packing capacity.

The next question you should answer is the indented use of the bag / your type of trip. Are you trekking through the jungle? Will the bag be getting wet? Are you heading out on a business trip?

For instance, going hiking requires a bag that will accommodate your hiking gear; perhaps you need to strap a tent, or walking poles to the back. You’ll be looking for something you can go hands-free with, and won’t get tired carrying on your back.

Keep Your Liquids Travel-Sized

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If you’ve been through an airport in the last couple decades, you’re well aware of the “100ml or 3.4oz” rule for liquids on a flight. This rule is pretty much universal now at airports, regardless of where you are in the world.

That said, if you have a shampoo, hair product or cream blush you just can’t live without, decant it into a travel-sized bottle, which you can find at most drugstores.

Even if you plan on packing your liquids into your checked bag (which don’t carry the same restrictions) it’s still a good idea to use travel-sized bottles. You never know how your bag will be rearranged on the flight back.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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