Here are some of my tips to travel smart and pack light.
With airline allowances for cabin carry-on and checked baggage getting ever stricter and more inflexible, we are all being obliged to pack smarter. There’s nothing worse than being weighed down by heavy luggage on a trip, or paying those inflated excess baggage fees on the flight home, just because you picked up a few too many souvenirs.
Invest in a good suitcase
A few years ago suitcases and carry-on bags were designed mainly for strength and that often meant they were heavy. A typical case could weigh quite a few kilos before you’ve even put anything in it!
Now luggage manufacturers have created cases that are exceptionally light and strong – so invest in a new case and you’ll automatically win an extra few kilos of luggage capacity.
Less is more
You have probably heard before the advice to put all your clothes for your planned trip on the bed and then divide it in half and pack only what’s left. Well, that advice probably remains the best. We all pack too much, taking comfort in the thought we have clothes for all occasions and all weathers.
The truth is, we always wear less than we think, and if suddenly the weather changes then you can always purchase something whilst away.
Also, although hotel laundry fees are usually high most destinations have a laundrette where you can leave your clothes for a service wash, costing very little – meaning you can take less clothes and wear them more often.
These have been one of the best travel investments I have made. ‘Cubes’ are lightweight, zip pouches of different sizes, perfect for packing different garments together. The cubes fit smartly together inside your case, making it so easy to pack and unpack, and locate items without unfolding all your clothes. Small cubes or pouches are great too for packing phone and MP3 changer cables, headphones and adapters that otherwise always seem to get lost or buried at the bottom of a case.
Women might be more familiar with this concept than men, but in essence a capsule wardrobe, a term coined by Susie Faux, is a collection of essential items of classic clothing that are easily combined, interchanged, dressed up or dressed down for different occasions. Choose essential items in complimentary colours, so you can combine them in different ways for formal or informal looks, minimising the number of outfits to pack.
Stuff your shoes!
Shoes are bulky and heavy and take up lots of space, so don’t take many! I tend to wear my smart shoes on the flight, as they are usually the heaviest and pack the rest. Using cotton shoe bags protects your clothes from the shoes and allows you to pack them tightly together in the case. You can also use the inside of the shoes to pack soft items, giving you more space and also helping protect the shoes from being squashed.
Survive a lost or delayed bag
Some of us have experienced the nightmare of a lost or delayed bag – and statistics suggest the issue is getting worse as the number of passengers increases each year. One way to help reduce the impact of this, is to pack at least one day’s outfit and a few essential items in your cabin carry-on. Most lost bags are delivered to your hotel within 24/48 hours of arrival, so a fresh set of clothes is all you need to tide you over.
Fly like First Class
Not all of us can fly Business or First class all the time, yet we can still recreate some of the comforts found at the front of the plane. Amenity kits these days in Economy and Premium Economy are quite poor, so why not create your own First Class style? It’s certain that your favourite toiletry brands are available in ‘airline-friendly’ 100ml sizes making it easy to create a deluxe amenity kit together with good headphones, comfortable earplugs, and a real cotton eye mask. Also, pack waterless hand sanitizer – it’s always useful!
A combination lock and security belt to secure your case is a great idea too, and many now are TSA-approved (the US screening standard) so security agents can open them without force, whilst you are protected against opportunist thieves or having items placed in your case.
What are you Top Tips for Packing? We’d love to hear them!