One of the most enjoyable activities when traveling abroad is indulging in a shopping spree! Whether it's cosmetics, clothing, or household appliances, many travelers have a keen interest in purchasing various consumer goods in Japan.
However, the fear of running out of space in their luggage often haunts them. That's why this time, we interviewed a flight attendant working for a Taiwanese airline to discover the secrets of efficient packing before heading overseas and how to maximize space when organizing luggage before returning home.
So, if you've ever been troubled by the daunting task of organizing your belongings, read on for some valuable packing tips!
5 Tips for Organizing Your Luggage Before Visiting Japan
Firstly, if you have time before your trip, it's best to make a list of the things you need to bring, such as clothing, sleepwear, skincare and beauty products, medication, contact lenses, and so on. This way, you won't forget anything important while organizing your belongings.
Next, gather all the items you need to bring in one place, like on a bed, and take inventory before you begin packing your luggage.
1. Choose mix-and-match clothing for your upper and lower body as much as possible.
If you're going on a 5-day, 4-night trip, it's best to plan your outfits for those 5 days in advance. For your upper body clothing, it's recommended to avoid selecting colors or patterns that are too similar to each other to prevent others from thinking you're wearing the same clothes every day. During the summer, when you may sweat and not wear undergarments, it's suggested to bring 4 tops and 2 bottoms. This, combined with the outfit you wear on the day of departure, will give you 5 tops and 3 pants or skirts. In other seasons, the colder it gets, the fewer tops you need to bring.
2. You don't need to bring too many clothes for winter travel.
For a 5-day, 4-night winter trip, 2 tops and 2 bottoms are sufficient. In winter, most people wear bulky outerwear, so nobody will really see what you're wearing underneath. Plus, you'll be wearing undergarments and thermal clothing. Only items like undergarments need to be changed daily, so leave space for thermal clothing by minimizing the number of tops.
3. Shoes and hats take up a lot of space, so choose carefully.
Hats can be quite space-consuming and unnecessary, so it's recommended to choose practical hats made of soft and foldable material. Bringing one hat for the entire trip, such as a fisherman hat or knitted hat, is sufficient. Try to avoid wide-brimmed hats or hats with rigid materials that cannot be folded. As for shoes, it's best to bring a pair that you're already comfortable with and suitable for walking. If you really need to bring extra shoes, opt for lightweight and flat options like slippers. Unless there's a special occasion that requires them, avoid bringing impractical high-heeled shoes that take up space.
4. Bring old clothes that can be discarded after wearing.
It's also recommended to bring old garments that you don't mind discarding, such as underwear, socks, T-shirts, etc. You can consider them as disposable items, wearing them and disposing of them without the need to carry dirty laundry back home, saving luggage space.
5. Travel-sized or the amount needed for the trip is sufficient for skincare and medication.
For skincare products like toner, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and face masks, bring an adequate amount without the need to bring the entire container. Nowadays, many brands offer travel-sized sets, or you can also consider packing them in smaller containers. This way, you can significantly reduce the volume and weight when traveling, and minimize the risk of improper handling causing damage. As for medication or daily disposable contact lenses, bring the quantity required for the duration of the trip. If you're concerned about unexpected situations, it's advisable to prepare an extra set or two, but there's no need to bring the entire package or box.
5 Clever Packing Tips Before Going Abroad
1. Roll your clothes.
Most people fold their clothes when packing, but if your luggage isn't going to be packed to the brim, folding clothes can result in them getting shuffled around during transit. Even if you neatly fold them into squares, they might end up wrinkled when you open your luggage. Therefore, it's recommended to roll soft fabrics into cylindrical shapes, one roll at a time, and place them in your suitcase. This way, your clothes will remain organized and are less likely to shift.
2. Travel storage bags are not necessary.
It has become trendy for people to purchase travel storage bags, making their suitcases look compartmentalized like lunchboxes. While they do create a more organized and tidy appearance, flight attendants interviewed have mentioned that using storage bags requires additional time for organizing and often wastes valuable luggage space. As suitcases have fixed volumes, placing packed storage bags inside instantly takes up half the suitcase's space, leaving numerous gaps between each bag. These gaps can be crucial spaces when returning home. Unless it's for preventing frustration caused by poorly categorized items or avoiding the visibility of contents during customs inspection, the use of storage bags is not recommended. If used, one or two bags are sufficient.
3. Utilize plastic bags and ziplock bags.
If you prefer to have some separation between your belongings, it's suggested to use plastic bags. The soft and thin material of plastic bags allows them to conform tightly to neighboring items in your suitcase. When not in use, they can be easily folded or even discarded without any regrets. Ziplock bags are particularly useful for storing liquid items, such as travel-sized sets of shower gel, shampoo, or toner. They prevent leakage and keep the rest of your items dry, allowing for centralized storage without occupying as much space as makeup bags or storage bags.
4. Maximize space for intimate garments.
Intimate garments, such as bras with underwires or fixed shapes, can pose a challenge for many travelers. While some may opt to purchase specialized storage boxes for undergarments, these boxes still take up considerable space. Instead, try stuffing small fabric items like panties and socks on the inside and outside of the bras. Alternatively, you can place small fragile items, such as canned products or delicate accessories, to utilize the space around the bras while providing protection.
5. Always carry a spare carry-on bag.
After packing everything, there is one essential item you must have while traveling— a spare carry-on bag! It's especially convenient if the bag can be folded and attached to the handle of your suitcase. This spare bag can come in handy if your luggage is full and you need extra space or if your checked baggage exceeds the weight limit, allowing you to distribute some items as carry-on to balance the weight.
7 Clever Tips for Organizing Your Luggage When Returning Home
After several days of traveling, one of the most challenging tasks before returning home is figuring out how to bring back all the souvenirs. Here are some handy tips provided by the interviewed flight attendant based on personal experience, which will help you save luggage space and make the most of your suitcase's capacity.
1. Separate duty-free items during checkout.
One common challenge for many Japanese travelers is how to pack duty-free items efficiently without wasting luggage space. To address this, it's recommended to ask the store staff to package similar-sized duty-free items separately instead of placing everything in one bag. After being packed, duty-free items are not to be opened until returning home. If all items are packed together, it becomes difficult to separate them and may result in wasted space.
2. Find ways to reduce the size of personal souvenirs.
If the items you purchased locally are for personal use and you don't mind removing the outer packaging, it's best to find ways to minimize their volume. For example, boxed snacks often come with additional plastic packaging that can be discarded. You can take out the contents and leave behind the space-consuming outer boxes. For items like potato chips or individually wrapped snacks, poke a small hole to release the air, fold and secure the opening with a rubber band. This can save a significant amount of space.
3. Use clothing and towels as buffers at the top and bottom layers.
Since many people now use hard-shell suitcases, placing worn clothes at the bottom of the suitcase allows them to conform to the non-flat surface of the hard-shell, providing both cushioning and protection for items such as rigid boxed products or duty-free items that cannot be separated. Additionally, after everything is packed, you can place a few garments on top as an added layer of protection.
4. Wear bulky clothing and hats.
Bulky clothing and hats occupy a significant amount of luggage space, especially during winter. On the last day of your trip, it's advisable to wear the heavier and thicker clothing items and keep your hat on during the flight. This can save both weight and volume in your suitcase.
5. Fit travel bottles and containers into gaps between clothing.
When organizing your luggage upon returning, you don't have to insist on keeping all the small bottles and containers in one specific place. Instead, you can tuck them into the gaps between clothing items. This way, you can make the most of the available space while also preventing them from getting damaged.
6. Utilize every corner and crevice of your suitcase.
The four corners of a suitcase are often overlooked, yet they can save a significant amount of space. Soft fabric items like socks, underwear, and gloves are suitable for filling these small crevices. Additionally, small toys from capsule vending machines or snacks can fit well in these corners. In summary, make sure to maximize and tightly fill every corner and crevice of your suitcase, effectively using the space and preventing items from shifting during transport.
7. Pack large, lightweight items separately.
If you find that your suitcase is still full after utilizing all available space, consider creating additional storage. A suitable option is to use a carry-on bag to pack larger items that are lightweight, such as stuffed animals or instant noodles. If your checked baggage allows for extra weight, you can check the carry-on bag as well.
If even the carry-on bag is full and you still have items left, and if your checked baggage allows for additional weight without restrictions on the number of checked bags, you can purchase a cardboard box and tape from a supermarket or a 100-yen store to pack your items separately and have them shipped back home.
Even though flight attendants travel for work, their suitcases are not as large as those of regular tourists. As a result, they also face the dilemma of buying too much abroad and struggling to fit everything in their luggage. Therefore, learning how to save space is equally important for everyone.
The luggage organizing and packing tips shared by flight attendants are highly practical. Those who often find themselves worrying about insufficient luggage space can take note and reference these suggestions for their next trip. This way, they can shop to their heart's content and return home with a suitcase full of treasures!
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*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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