Packing is one of those things that we all need to do to at least some extent when preparing for a trip – but packing well can be much more difficult than you’d imagine.
As much as some of us might wish that all that’s needed is to cram a load of stuff into a bag or suitcase and then go, there’s a definite art to effective packing – so here are our favourite five tips for ensuring that you get yours right, thereby minimising the stress associated with one of the most angst-inducing aspects of travel.
- Don’t pack overly worn clothing
Throwing some especially old and tatty clothing into your bag might seem like a great idea – after all, it’s clothing that you won’t be too anxious about getting a bit scuffed amid all of that mountain hiking or rolling around on the sand, and you could always bin it once your trip is over.
Unfortunately, the reality of starting with already-worn clothing is that it often deteriorates even further during your trip. You’ll look terrible, feel terrible and be looking around for the nearest clothes shop to replace that jacket that’s falling apart, so our advice would be to bring clothing that is relatively cheap, but at least looks new.
- Bring a sleeping bag liner
If you’re using budget hostels in particular, you might find that not all of them provide sheets. So when you bring a sleeping bag liner, it’s reassuring to know that even in the worst-case scenario, you will have your own clean sheets that you can use, rather than having to put up with whatever you can get in what may be poorly cleaned accommodation.
We love online hiking store Simply Hike’s guide to the benefits of a sleeping bag liner, which also details the various types of sleeping bag liner available and how best to care for one.
- Make sure your clothing items are interchangeable
We’ve probably all been in that situation at the end of a holiday when we’ve been forced to wear our two least favourite top and bottom pieces of clothing at the same time, for the simple reason that they were the last two clean items left at the bottom of our bag. Even worse, those items might have horrendously clashed.
This is why it’s so important to carefully plan your travel wardrobe, packing items that will complement each other nicely, whatever combination of them you might find yourself wearing.
- Don’t pack simply because you can
Sure, the airline’s baggage weight limit might be 50lb, and it may feel almost rude to pack up to a weight any lower than 49.9lb. But there’s no need to fill your bag or suitcase to the brim, simply because you can.
After all, it’s all extra weight that you will need to carry during your trip, and you’ll be cursing yourself for thinking that it was possibly a good idea to include that heavy book that you never read, or those three extra trousers for a holiday that only lasts two days. Plus, you’ll inevitably purchase something on your holiday that you’ll need to take home with you, so we would suggest that you leave as much excess space as you reasonably can.
- Practice walking up and down stairs with your luggage
Yes, we do mean at least one flight of stairs – up and down – once your bags and suitcases are fully loaded. If you can’t do it comfortably, you’ll dread those inevitable long journeys on foot between the airport and the nearest taxi or public transport connection.
You may therefore need to consider downsizing your toiletries or removing certain other less-than-essential items. As a rule of thumb, if any item in your luggage is a ‘just in case’ rather than a ‘I’ll need that the moment I step off the plane or get into the hotel’ – such as sun cream for an autumn holiday – it might be best to remove it. After all, you’ll probably be able to purchase a replacement at a local shop once you get to your destination.
It’s important to remember that different travel operators have different policies and limits with regard to luggage. So, whether you are setting off with one of the more obvious mass-market package holiday providers like Thomson or Thomas Cook, or perhaps a slightly more niche holiday specialist like Kuoni or Imagine Cruising, we would always urge you to check the small print first. We wish you the best of luck on your next break!