9 TRAVEL PACKING TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
So your exciting trip is looming, you’ve got your passport, tickets and guidebooks and there’s only one thing left to do - pack! Why do we always dread packing!? Fear not, I’ve rounded up some of the best essential packing tips and tricks from those in the know.
1 Pre-airport travel tips
The more prep you can do before you leave for the airport, the smoother things will run at the other end. The first couple of tips below sound so simple, but they will make your time in the airport stress-free (and may even save you some money!).
Jacek Skrzypkowski from eSky says ‘Weigh your luggage before taking it to the airport to avoid paying additional fees’. This sounds like such an obvious thing to do but I don’t think I have ever done this (until now!). It’s easier (and a lot less hassle) to refine your packing at home than it is to pay for extra at the airport (see tip no. 4 - what not to take!).
Tired of throwing precious water away at security? Traveller (and member of my lovely Facebook community Sarah Racheal Shaw suggests another simple but cost saving solution: ‘Take an empty water bottle to fill up at the water fountains at the airport.’ - Again, why haven’t I done this before!?
Pic credit: Jeshoots
2 What to pack in your hand luggage
If you’re checking some luggage in, make sure your carry-on is carefully packed with some essentials. Guide books, chargers, snacks and of course, a few spare clothes, just in case. Don’t do what I did when my luggage went missing for 3 days and I wore the same t-shirt and jeans in Guatemala for 72 hours straight (stinky!).
Disney travel specialist Janine Pipe sensibly suggests ‘I always pack a pair of undies in my hand luggage, just in case bags go missing. Plus anything I might need for the first night in a separate bag.'
Sally from The Foodie Travel Guide covers all bases; 'I always pack a swimming costume and pair of shorts in my hand luggage. I once went on holiday to Corsica & my luggage didn't turn up for 4 days!'
Although the chances of your luggage going missing are slim, I can bet that everyone reading this knows at least one person this has happened to. And when it comes to travelling as a couple, or in a group, make the law of averages work for you. Travel writer Will Hide says 'If there are two of you travelling, mix your stuff in both bags in case one doesn’t arrive...it’s happened to us!'
Pic credit: Elaine Tu
3 Packing cubes!
Ah the great question: to cube or not to cube? ...Ok, so no-one has ever actually said that but it is a valid question. I've been a convert since buying my own set of packing cubes. An organisers dream! They just make everything so easy to find, and categorise.
Janine Pipe adds 'Separate outfits in clear zip-lock bags inside your case make life so much easier, so you know exactly what to wear each day.'
Shelley from family travel and lifestyle blog Wander and Luxe says 'I love using packing cubes to stay organised, especially with a toddler in tow! I always pack bags for dirty laundry, shoes, liquids etc. And if you are traveling as a couple / family then split your items across the multiple bags. If one gets lost, you still have some bits!'
Pic credit: EzPacking
4 What not to pack
Packing light is the way to go but no matter how frugal I think I am with my stuff, there’s always at least one outfit that never sees the light of day. Try to plan your clothes day by day, and be totally brutal. You don’t need to pack that extra pair of jeans ‘just in case’. Don't do what I did and almost break the scales with my overstuffed rucksack (pictured!)
Paper artist, and traveller Marc Hagan-Guirey, warns 'You never need as much as you think! I remember being super prepared for my Inca Trail hike - and I didn't change my clothes once.' (Marc is a friend of mine and always impeccably dressed, so if Marc can cut back on packing, we all can!).
Cherol Fleming Okrasa, a member of my lovely Facebook community sensibly suggests 'Before you close your suitcase, remove one complete outfit.' Wise words indeed.
5 Vacuum packing
Need to get serious when it comes to saving space? You need to get a tiny vacuum and suck out that dead space. Travel writer, and Greece specialist, Rebecca Hall suggests reducing all possible space. 'Vacuum pack the bags that you pack your clothes into, then massively shrink it by a portable little vacuum.' Serious space saving!
You can pick up a small travel vacuum and some bags here
6 Pack a minimal, capsule wardrobe
As mentioned earlier, less is more when it comes to packing. Make sure your pieces compliment each other and can be put together in a number of different ways to maximise the number of outfits you can make. Ashley Macnie, a dear friend of mine, and product manager at Exodus Travel says 'Have a colour theme for your clothes so everything matches.' Pack pops of colour with hairbands, lipstick or accessories. All of which are super light and will make your wardrobe go further.
You can even make one (yes one!) key piece become your go-to for almost anything that life on the road can throw at you. Dressmaker and traveller Holly Winter shares her trusty staple. 'One pair of stretchy skinny black trousers has seen me around the world through casual days, clubbing, job interviews, waitressing, teaching English, business meetings, skiing, skydiving, dates, performing in Grease, a wedding and a funeral. I still have them 22 years later.'
Wanna travel even lighter? And feel rather decadant as you sashay through the arrivals hall? Host of the excellent Big Travel Podcast, Lisa Francesca Nand lets us in on one of her secrets;' For trips where you don't want to sacrifice taking your favourite clothes but for whatever reason find it difficult or inconvenient to carry your own luggage there are services that send your bag ahead for you. There's nothing more luxurious than strolling through an airport suitcase-free yet knowing everything you need will be there when you arrive.'
7 - Travel packing rule 101 - roll, don’t fold!
Such a simple one yet I was late to the party with this one too. Roll up your clothes, do not fold. This saves on space plus it's also more likely to stop your clothes from getting creased. Facebook member Anne-Marie McKenna also adds 'Take a separate bag for your dirty, or wet stuff to go in if you're moving around.'
8 Essential travel accessories
Space is precious, so whatever you do take needs to be the right size. Don't be tempted to use up your current bottle of shampoo and throw it in. Decant into a small travel size refillable bottle. Or simply invest in good quality products. Rebecca Hall adds 'I take a lovely brand called Amphora Aromatics. They’re a local company and their travel shampoo bar (Rose & frankincense) is brilliant. It can be used as a body wash too and lasts ages!'
Another tip, which was another that I have yet to do myself (but thank you Ann Jones and Emma Stanway from my lovely Facebook community, 'Always take an extension lead. That way you only need one electrical adapter and you can charge multiple items when there are few sockets available.' This is a great one, especially if you're working on the road.
Colette Winter adds 'Pack a sand-proof travel towel. They fold down and are lighter and smaller to pack, they also dry faster too.' Try out this lovely one from Dock and Bay
9 Pack the right shoes for travel
Shoes. Possibly the heaviest things we will take with us, so we need to be smart when it comes to picking the right footwear. Travel Writer Anna Hart knows all too well. 'Packing light is all about shoes. I never travel with more than three pairs of shoes - trainers, flip-flops or boots (depending on the season), and one pretty pair of loafers, vintage clogs or leather flats. You don’t stand a chance unless you’re strict about footwear.' You can check out Anna's beautiful solo travel memoir Departures on paperback now.
Lifestyle and travel blogger L'espoir de ma vie adds 'Trainers are a must if you’re planning to go hiking or walking up hills as you’ll loose grip with sandals. Evening wise, opt for a smaller heel or flatforms as some destinations abroad have uneven pathways.'
Thanks so much to everybody who contributed to this article (and taught me a few valuable tips along the way!). I'd love to hear your gems of packing advice in the comments below so please let me know if I've missed anything!