There are two types of people in this world. One type can pack the absolute minimum required for a fortnight’s holiday with no worries and the other type go completely overboard and cram in as much as possible, worrying for the duration of the trip that they have forgotten something or wishing that they’d packed another pair of shoes. This article is written for the latter type, so if you struggle to pack light and spend your holiday lugging around a heavy suitcase that you can barely carry, why not read our handy hints?
Layer it up
This suggestion is first on every ‘packing tips’ lists with good reason – it’s the easiest way to save space and avoid packing things you won’t use. Layers of clothing are essential to keeping yourself at a comfortable temperature in your destination. Even if you’re heading somewhere quite cold, layers of natural fabrics will be more effective at keeping you warm than one big, fluffy sweater, and not only that, they’ll be more flexible items to wear and take up less space in your suitcase. Pick a few relatively loose, long sleeved cotton tops and wearing them together beneath a coat will trap air in a series of layers. Your body heat will warm up this air and the layers will keep it close to your skin, insulating you against the chill.
Check the weather
I’d think this one goes without saying, but I’ve been on holidays with friends who have been so optimistic about the weather that they’ve spent the entire week shivering and borrowing my clothes. Don’t just check the typical weather patterns for your destination in a guidebook, actually go online and read about the current weather conditions and the weather forecast before you start to pack – it may be an unseasonable climate during your visit. Pack suitably but bear in mind that forecasts can be wrong and weather can change quickly, do include a few back-up items in case the weather takes a turn for the worse or for the better during your trip.
Paper is heavy and in these modern times, there’s often no need for it. Don’t print out all your travel insurance documents, hotel bookings and so on. Just save them as files on a USB flash drive, on a laptop, iPad or a kindle if you’re taking it with you anyway. And leave the weighty guidebooks at home if you can. Downloading a guide onto an e-book reader, laptop or mobile phone can save a lot of space and it also tends to be lower in price, or purchase a travel app. Then pick up an area map when you get to your destination, for example from your hotel or a tourism office.
Shoes are the big killer to any attempt at packing light. If you’re going away for a week, try to limit yourself to just two pairs of shoes – flats and heels. Longer trips are more tricky, but the key is to only pack what you think you’ll really need.
Always wear your heaviest shoes to travel in. No matter if they’re your walking boots and make you look both desperately uncool and warm-footed on the journey because as soon as you get onto your chosen mode of transport, you can take them off and curl up comfortably in your socks!
Go for a colour scheme
Any travel expert will tell you that the ‘capsule wardrobe’ is what you need for any kind of holiday. What does this mean? Well, it means packing a minimum of different clothing attire that will coordinate together, giving you as many options and combinations as possible with just a few key items. I’d suggest choosing a base colour – probably black or white – and then selecting clothes that feature one or two other highlight colours that coordinate with each other. So if you went with white, green and blue, you could pack a few basics in white, such as underwear, t-shirts, vests, shorts of trousers. Then throw in a blue and green patterned wrap dress, a green scarf, a blue cardigan and a few other items and you’ll be sorted!
This might sound boring, but a capsule wardrobe is easy to liven up with a few accessories. Pack a thin belt, a neck scarf, and a few items of jewellery or hair decorations and you can make each outfit look unique.
Plan to purchase overseas
No doubt you’ll want to buy some souvenirs in your destination, so why not make them useful things? If you’re going on a long trip, then you’ll probably need to buy clothes along the way, so think about this when you’re packing and don’t go crazy. Even on shorter trips, you could decide in advance to buy some flip-flops or a new evening bag while you’re there. Find out what your destination is famous for, whether it’s silk scarves or leather products. Although you might have to leave a little space in your luggage, it will be lighter on the journey out!
Bottle it up
We women often have quite a lot of toiletries and doing without them for a few weeks can feel like a bit of a wrench for some of us. I never take my full-size bottles with me but always decant the essentials, such as shampoo, moisturiser and shower gel into much smaller plastic bottles. This probably saves me the most space and weight in my luggage. You can buy these from most pharmacies, or simply buy sample sizes of your usual products.
Lay everything out
People laugh at me for doing this, but when I’ve gathered together everything I want to pack, I lay it out so that I can see everything I’m taking with me. Doing this is the only way I’ve found of getting an overview of my luggage. It helps me see which clothes go with which shoes, whether I’ve packed the right colour underwear and if I’ve forgotten something essential. Whether or not you invite teasing for this behaviour, do it and you’ll be all set.