Whether you go by plane, train, car or boat, for 3 days or 3 months, every trip you go on has one thing in common - you need to pack a bag. Getting it right can save you time, effort, money and your peace of mind.
There are many factors that will help you decide what to pack. Things like -
- where you’re going
- for how long
- whether you’re moving around a lot or staying in the one place
- the size of luggage that you plan to carry
- restrictions on baggage allowance placed by your transport carriers or tour groups.
All these can change what you need to take. Especially if you tend to leave packing until the last minute, it’s easy to leave things behind, or you take too much and end up costing yourself a fortune in excess baggage fees.
Check out these tips to help you be smarter about the way you pack.
Store your travel items together
Hunting for your passport, digging out your luggage, compiling travel adapters and mini shampoo bottles all take time. Keeping your travel specific items prepacked and in the same place will help minimise stress when it comes time to pack. If you’re not going to use your travel bag, international adapters, travel umbrella etc between trips, why not store them together inside your suitcase? Having everything in the one place will save you time and frustration.
Use a Packing List
Avoid overpacking or leaving important things behind by utilising a packing list. There are plenty of examples online or use them to create your own. Work out how long you’re going for and if you will have access to laundry facilities then plan your packing to suit the weather and duration of your trip.
Choose clothes by outfit
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When space is of a premium make sure that to choose clothes that you can mix and match to make up a number of different outfits. There’s no point bringing a particular shirt if you need to bring an extra pair of pants, shoes and accessories to go with it. By choosing items that all go together you can change up your outfit each day without using lots of extra space. Layering is a great way to do this, making your outfit look different with only small changes.
Lay things out first
Before putting your items in your suitcase, lay them out to see if you really need them. Most experts say that we only need about half of what we plan to bring. Be ruthless. A night on the town will be just as fun in jeans and a nice shirt as it will in your Sunday best. Also think about the kind of souvenir shopper you are – will you be buying clothing along the way? If so, that’s one more shirt you can wear and one less shirt that you need to take from home.
Be picky about your footwear
The best choices when packing light are to bring things that can be worn in more than one way. The same applies to shoes. They take up a fair bit of space and weight, so they need to be worth it. If you’re planning to bring some shoes that aren’t really comfortable - is that what you really want to wear on your holidays? Dressy sandals that you can wear out or for a day of sightseeing are a better choice than a pair of heels. Dark sneakers can also be great all-purpose footwear.
Have a dedicated travel toiletry bag
Taking your everyday toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush means you can’t finish packing until the morning that you leave, and you run the risk of leaving it behind entirely. Having a dedicated travel toiletry bag with lightweight toothbrush, hairbrush and travel size toiletries is a great way to have it all ready beforehand. Getting samples from the makeup counter and the dentist are a good way to achieve this, or you can buy travel size versions or even decant the required amounts of your shampoo and conditioner into travel sized containers.
Safeguard your toiletries from spills
Once you’ve worked out which toiletries you’re taking, remove the lids and put some cling film or plastic over the opening then reattach the lids. This way if the lids come loose during your journey you’re minimising the risk of them damaging your clothes and other belongings. A toiletry bag designed to contain leaks will also help minimise damage should a spill or leak occur.
Have a ready-to-go health kit
Negotiating a foreign pharmacy if you’re not feeling well is not ideal. There are also some items available over the counter in Australia that you need a prescription for elsewhere, such as Ventolin. Have a basic health kit ready in case of emergencies. A bandaid or two are lightweight items to carry, saving you the hassle of running to the shops if the need arises. It’s also a pain trying to explain what you’re after if the local term is different! Basics like painkillers, bandaids, anti-itch cream, antacids and ear plugs are a good start, just remember to keep it light.
Think about your jewellery
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While it’s lightweight, jewellery still adds to your baggage weight, so it’s worth being sure you need each piece before you bring it. When travelling there’s also the chance of things being lost or stolen, so it’s best not to bring your best pieces. For the items you do decide to bring, keep them from getting lost or tangled by storing them properly. A pill box is great for keeping rings and earrings, ziplock bags also work in a pinch. To keep thin chains from tangling, feed the chain through a straw before fastening the clasp. Tech accessory organisers can also be repurposed for sorting and storing jewellery items.
Hard cases are great for protecting your checked baggage, but you should consider bringing a spare soft-sided or foldable bag for added luggage or carryon. Using a soft sided bag means that it can fit into more spaces, like the space under the seat in front of you on the plane. Packing a folding bag or soft-sided bag in your luggage also allows you to move items around if you’re nearing your baggage limit. If you’re travelling with companions it’s a great way to share the load. If you’re travelling alone a soft sided duffle may suit your whole trip, rather than carrying a heavy suitcase.
Use Packing Cubes
The best way to keep organised on your travels is to use travel packing cubes. They work like drawers in your suitcase, allowing you to know where everything is right away. They stop you from having to dig around through your whole suitcase to find a clean shirt, and surprisingly, they save you space as well. By compressing your items into individual cubes you keep them bunched together and held in place, allowing you to fit more into the same space.
Live the Marie Kondo folding method
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Marie Kondo’s space saving folding method can take a little getting used to, but if you manage it at home you’ll be amazed by how easy it is to see your entire wardrobe and save space. This is fantastic for packing in a hurry and also a great way to be organised on your travels. Packing carefully folded items into packing cubes will help them stay neatly folded and easy to identify, even after your baggage has run the length of 2 airports and back!
If you can’t work out Marie Kondo’s folding method you can still save space in your suitcase by rolling your clothes. This helps reduce wrinkles and allows them to be packed neatly into packing cubes to keep them from flying everywhere and creating ‘suitcase soup’.
Keep shoes from messing up your clean clothes
Your shoes pick up the dust and dirt of the roads you’ve walked down, and on a good holiday you should be walking around some amazing places. Shoe cubes will keep the dirt off your shoes from spreading across all of your other belongings.
Sort out your dirty laundry
On your travels you’ll often need to bring your dirty laundry around with you from place to place. Separate them from your clean clothes by using packing cubes or a laundry bag. When dressing for an early morning departure you don’t want to accidentally choose clothes obviously in need of a wash.
Bring a way to freshen up your clothes
On a long trip it may be some time between proper laundry stops. Bring along fabric deodoriser or a gentle laundry detergent for hand washing to keep your clothes fresh when you're on the road. Dryer sheets are often suggested by our American friends. These are available in most Australian supermarkets and will also help to deodorise your clothes.
Be prepared for wet swimwear
If you’re headed somewhere sunny, chances are you’ll get on your swimwear and enjoy the water. Taking a plastic bag, or saving one from a supermarket trip or souvenir shop, is great for transporting your wet clothes if they haven’t had a chance to dry. You want to air them or wash them as soon as you can, but in the meanwhile you need a way to keep them from saturating everything you’re carrying. Remember that wet clothes add weight, so dry them as much as possible first.
Whether you’re going for a quick weekend away or off on an epic 12 country adventure, we hope these packing hacks have given you a starting point to becoming an expert packer. With one less thing to stress over, you’ll be free to enjoy your trip more.
Do you have your own packing hacks to revolutionise the way we pack? Leave your travel packing tips below.