5 Tips to To Pack Like a Pro


Five years ago, I picked up my Heys xCase 20” carry-on for $35 at Costco. Since then, it has been my trusted travel companion across six continents. By having only a 20″ x 14″ x 9″ space (plus my backpack) to carry my essentials, I’ve learned a thing or two about packing well.

This week, I had to fit everything for a trip to Hawai’i into my little xCase. Since our itinerary includes hiking on Kilauea volcano and stargazing from halfway up Mauna Kea, a handful of bikinis would not suffice. Here’s how to pack for four seasons:

1. Roll, Don’t Fold

This is fairly common advice, but I’ll say it again here – rolling your clothes often takes up less space, and most importantly, avoids wrinkles. So go on, roll it ‘gyal!

2. Use Ziploc Bags

Mr. Pointster jokes that our monthly budget needs a separate line item for Ziploc bags, because they’re my cure-all. The reason why plastic zip-closure bags are so useful while packing is because you can use them like vacuum bags and remove all the air. It’s amazing how much space this can save. Once you’ve rolled your clothes in, close the zip almost all the way, leaving part of it open for the air to escape. Push down on the contents and roll the bag itself towards the opening. Keep your knee on the bundle while closing the zip all the way.

3. Think Modular

There are two ways to pack in a modular fashion. One is to pack each type of item together in a Ziploc bag: undergarments in one, swimsuits in another, t-shirts in another, etc. This makes initially packing easier and makes finding your clothes throughout a trip easier. The second way is the one I use – I pack outfits together, and then put my versatile items separately. I have one bag for undergarments, one for outerwear, and then have the remainder of my tops and bottoms packed together as outfits, at around 2 per bag. I prefer this because it allows me to quickly remove excess items if I can’t fit everything, or allows me to transfer a day’s worth of clothing to my backpack for a quick getaway trip. It also makes getting ready at the destination a lot easier. Most importantly, this method helps prevent me from overpacking by ensuring I take only what I need.

4. Use Layers

Layering is another way of being modular. Rather than taking a large overcoat, I always pack a hoodie, a yoga zip-up, and an ultralight shell jacket with a hood. For ski weather, I can combine all three for warmth that rivals a parka. For tropical rainforest weather, I throw the shell jacket on top of a tank top. The hoodie is perfect for flights, and the shell jacket packs away into its own pocket. By layering, each piece has more than one use.

5. Wear the heavy stuff

It might be a pain to have to lace and unlace your runners as you put your shoes through security, but if space is tight, it’s better to wear your heavier/bulkier shoes on the plane, saving you valuable room in your suitcase (and making it easier to run to the gate in case you get distracted by all the tasty cookies in the lounge – but we’ll get to that later).

Those are the Jet.Set.Tips for packing like a pro. With airlines now charging a checked-bag fee for all flights, it’s a good time to learn how to travel light. Plus, it also makes it possible for you to take public transit to/from the airport. We were able to save about $50 by taking the bus between the Honolulu Airport and Waikiki Beach, and see more of the city as a result.

Travel light, travel on.

How To Marry a Mile Millionaire

He proposed in Quebec City

He proposed in Quebec City

I often tease my fiancé that I’m marrying him for his millions. By millions, I’m not talking about dollars, yen, or rubles. While his and my day jobs as an actuary and an engineer, respectively, provide us with a comfortable enough earning in traditional currencies, my fiancé also managed to accumulate a small fortune in loyalty program miles and points. From Aeroplan, to Avios, to American Express Rewards, it is these points that give us the ability to join the jet set. With all of his knowledge on how to earn and use these points, I affectionately named him Mr. Pointster.

Mr. Pointster and I had been acquaintances during our undergrad years at Waterloo, with many mutual friends. By the time I ran into him at a Thanksgiving party in 2012, I had done a fair share of globetrotting myself: Australia, Southeast Asia, four trips to Europe, East Africa twice…etc. Through this time, I had learned a few tricks of the trade myself – enough so that our conversation at that party played out much like the meeting of George Clooney and Vera Farmiga’s characters in Up in the Air.

He told me then that he was planning to start a blog on how to maximize loyalty program rewards. We bonded over conversations about logo designs, writer’s block, and analysis paralysis. Over time, our friendship grew into something more, and his website grew into Creditwalk.ca. Our first big trip together was to Brazil and Argentina, where we fell in love over great steaks and great scenery. We are now engaged to be married, after an especially memorable proposal, and look forward to travelling through all stages of our shared life. While Creditwalk.ca talks all about the best credit cards for each lifestyle and how best to earn and redeem loyalty program points, I started JetSetTrek to share the stories, advice, and quick tips on how to make the most of the resulting travel opportunities.

Of course, I’m not really marrying him for his miles – I’m doing it because I love him, and because he is the best companion for the long-haul journey that is our future. As a famous African proverb puts it: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

I hope you will enjoy journeying with us.