Travel Secrets: The right packing is half the holiday won
After months of planning and counting down the days, your next big holiday is a mere few hours away. You’ve just laid out what you’re planning to bring, having neatly placed, folded and rolled your choices onto your bed. Now would seem like a good time to start transferring your stuff into the suitcase. But wait. Are you really there yet? Take a step back and you’ll notice what you’ve actually done is neatly placed, folded and rolled out the entire contents of your wardrobe.
Even considering that gold-level baggage allowance, that newly purchased suitcase with a sturdy set of wheels, and those handy bag carts at the airport, it’s time to be honest with yourself: this isn’t an efficient way to travel. The question is: how do you go about fixing this overstuffed situation?
First, take another step back and breathe. What seems like a daunting task will turn out to be a relatively painless one, if you’re willing to follow these easy steps. You’ll even notice that none of them include “take what you have and cut that down by half”. While it sounds like a logical solution, it’s not an altogether practical one.
Start by assessing your itinerary: take into consideration the type of holiday you’ll be enjoying, be it an island getaway, city break or safari. If, for example, you’ll be heading off on a city break to Paris, leave those gorgeous Manolo Blahnik pumps at home, and instead opt for a pair of stylish, yet comfortable, Jimmy Choo flats or Isabel Marant Étoile trainers while you’re taking in the sights.
The same goes for a luxury safari. While that beautiful black viscose and silk Céline dress you’re planning to wear to dinner is tempting, the fact that you won’t have access to a dry-cleaning service will render your dress useless after one evening spent under the stars in the Serengeti. To avoid this, choose items designed from fabrics that will stand up to the elements, such as loose-fitting lyocell or form-fitting jersey dresses.
You’ll also want to break out your phone’s weather app to see whether that down jacket or raincoat will be a useful commodity or unnecessary added bulk.
Once you’ve decided what you absolutely don’t need, look to pack clothes that will function in more than one scenario. This means finding pieces that are as stylish as they are versatile. Take that plain black dress, for example. Though you might believe it to only work for an evening event, chances are it’ll make a stellar day look if you pair it with some smart trainers (hopefully you’re planning to wear these on the plane and not pack them in) and a chic hat. The same goes for jumpsuits and tailored shorts. Those with a keen sartorial sense – both men and women – should consider packing items with similar colour schemes, which will allow you to create more outfit choices from fewer items.
A little-known fact about your undergarments: they are some of the top culprits for adding unnecessary bulk to your bag. Luckily, this is easily avoided. Stuff items such as socks and unmentionables into your shoes and small areas of the case that don’t take up room – think the pockets located on the inside of your suitcase cover. If the pocket doesn’t close, store them in a resealable freezer bag to ensure they don’t spill out into the main part of your luggage.
For that one outfit that you know is more durable than the rest, pack it in your carry-on. It will save room in your suitcase as well as act as a fail-safe option if you have the unfortunate experience of lost luggage. If you’re headed to cooler climes and are forced to bring a heavy jacket, take this on board with you rather than trying to stuff it into your bag.
While garment choices are paramount to saving space, your toiletries also need careful consideration. Though you might be tempted to throw those large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and various other beauty products into your suitcase and call it a day, we suggest you think twice. Chances are, you’re not going to need full bottles of anything.
If you’re a seasoned traveller and have stashed up your fair share of hotel toiletries, consider packing those instead. If you’re eco-conscious, you can save the empty bottles to use during future holidays. If, however, you don’t have a stockpile of hotel products, invest in small reusable containers for your liquids. A 200ml bottle or container should be enough to get you through a week and are easily purchased from most food stores. Just remember to seal them properly.
Storing all your entertainment – books, music, movies – on one electronic device will also save heaps of room. This, along with the rest of your valuables, should always be stowed in your carry-on and taken on the plane with you.
Finally, get online and do your research. Most high-end hotels will spell out every single item that you’ll find in your room, right down to the cotton earbuds. This means leaving that hairdryer, bathrobe and even hair products – assuming, of course, that the hotel’s options are of reputable quality – at home.
Now it’s time to pack. Remember to store bulky items, such as shoes, along the sides of the bottom of your case. Roll, don’t fold, where you can, and place more delicate items at the top. You should now find that the size and weight of your case has drastically decreased. Happy travels.
Read this and other travel-related stories in Ultratravel magazine, out with The National on Wednesday, March 23.
Updated: March 21, 2016 04:00 AM