How to Pack for a Big Trip

Do you love planning exciting trips, but dread the process of packing your bags? One of our awesome Global Action Volunteer Team members, Karen Zeller, has graciously shared with us her tips and tricks to help you through it! With her years of experience, you are sure to learn some useful information to make that process not-so frustrating.

Packin’ On Up

Written by Troop 50368 and Karen Zeller, Global Action Volunteer Team member and Troop Leader

A trip to Our Chalet (the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts world center in Switzerland): the experience of a lifetime. Add to that a few extra days, and our troop had a true European adventure. The girls couldn’t wait. They had been preparing for this for years. The fundraising was done, the arrangements booked, the forms filled out, the money exchanged. All we had left to do? Pack.

Packing, depending on who you’re talking to, can be the least favorite part of any trip. But somehow, over the years, our girls had come to take pride in their packing. They know what was needed to succeed, and how to make that success happen.

Here are some of our troop’s tried and true tips for making packing as pleasant as possible!

Getting Started

It all starts with putting together the perfect list to match what you need with what you’re allowed to carry. To fly internationally, we were allowed a bag that totaled no more than 62 inches in total dimensions and weighed no more than 50 pounds. We were also allowed one carry-on, plus one personal item.

To make sure you bring the essentials and make the most of your space at the same time, it helps to:

  • Make a packing list together as a troop to have everyone on board from the start.
  • Discuss basic clothing needs, appropriate dress for the location and activities planned, and a maximum amount of each item needed.
  • Figure out how to get access to a washer and dryer–– you don’t want to spend all your time washing clothes, but for long trips this is a must.
  • Remember you can comfortably re-wear and layer clothes throughout the trips!
  • Keep in mind the kinds of activities planned and how this will affect your packing list. For example, we were doing everything on this trip from hiking in the alps to visiting sacred sites in Rome, so girls had to decide between weighing their bags down with boots or wearing them while traveling.

Toiletries: To Share or not to Share?

This is obviously important to discuss! In previous trips, we had opted to buy toiletries when we got to where we were going and share as a group. We didn’t think this would work as well in Europe, so if you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what we did:

  • Each girl either brought their own toiletries or worked in a group to share.
  • We brought a couple of hairdryers to share between us.
  • We tried our best to limit extras, like makeup, etc.
  • The leaders carried first aid kits and any extras the girls might need (lots of Band-Aids).
  • Make sure to clear out any hotel rooms of their soap before you leave–– you might as well!

Compressing and Compacting

Once our list was made, it was up to the girls to make the magic happen. They used several great techniques for consolidating suitcase space:

  • A favorite for several of the girls was packing cubes, which flatten out clothes for extra room.
  • We taught the girls how to roll clothes instead of folding them, another great tip for saving space.
  • We also talked about bringing extra Ziploc® bags for dirty and wet clothes, so they don’t get mixed in with the clean ones!
  • The girls bought expandable suitcases so if they left them un-expanded on the way over, they would have room for souvenirs on the way home.

Carryons and Cautionary Tales

For the long plane ride there and back, the girls made sure they had everything they needed in as little a bag as possible. In their carry-ons, they had:

  • An extra set of clothes
  • Any needed meds and small travel size toiletries
  • Compression socks or fuzzy socks for comfort
  • eBooks and downloaded movies on their devices

The girls also made a playlist for the trip, and all brought some sort of headphones and a small speaker for their hotel rooms!

Of course, you always have to leave room for souvenirs. Like I mentioned above, expandable suitcases made it possible for the girls to pick up some awesome items from our travels. This worked like a charm for everyone–– except for me. After leaving behind a couple things I didn’t need to bring back home and buying an extra-large “personal item” for the way home, I was still worried my suitcase was too full. Turns out: it was exactly 50 pounds! The girls, of course, were all well under the required maximum.

We may have done a good job teaching our girls how to pack over the years, but somehow, I am still learning.

What are you waiting for?

We would like to thank Karen so much for her contribution and wonderful advice (which we’ll all keep in mind next time we get ready for a trip)!

Now you have all these tips–– what are you gonna do with them? There are so many opportunities for traveling around the United States and abroad with the Girl Scouts, and it’s up to you to decide where you’re headed. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you are sure to embark on an unforgettable journey.

Are you interested in helping provide incredible travel experiences to Girl Scouts? Find out what it takes to join the Global Action Volunteer Team and what their mission is all about!

For more inspiring travel advice, check out our other guest blog posts by Global Action Volunteer Members:
Who We Are Part 1 | Who We Are Part 2 | Why You Should Try Backpacking | Daydreaming About Travel | A WAGGGS Adventure in Mexico | Guide to Safety While Traveling | Research travel as a Gen Z | Girl Scouts Will Travel

Visit our travel page for more information on where we’re headed this year and the next.

Want to take YOUR OWN ADVENTURE? Check out Girl Scouts Destinations!!!

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