Packing for any trip is a complete art in itself. Nothing is worse than forgetting something important and going to a shop on arrival to replace an expensive item you need. Equally, bringing too much luggage can be stressful. You can drag endless bags through hot airports and pay for excess baggage for things you don’t need. My preference is to always travel with hand luggage. The amount of time you save at both ends of your trip is amazing. You can avoid the long check-in queues on departure and the even longer and very frustrating wait for your bag at the other end. And not to mention the stress of seeing everyone else retrieve their bag successfully, and yours is the last one out, or even worse, yours doesn’t arrive.
Before I begin, deciding whether to bring hand luggage depends greatly on the airline. Some airlines are extremely strict on the size and weight of the bags you can get, but many of them allow you to take a decent-sized suitcase with a backpack or similar.
People are always amazed how I can pack a hand luggage bag for ten days to 2 weeks and still have a different outfit each day. As I write this blog, I am in Costa Rica for two weeks, top tips!. Packing for a trip like this is where the art is, and I am pleased to share some of my
- Start with shoes! They are the biggest and heaviest items, so if you match your clothes to one or two pairs of shoes, you can save a lot of space and weight.
- Mix the clothes up if you are traveling with family and have several check-in suitcases. If one of the suitcases goes missing, everyone will have some clothes to keep going until the disappeared bag is retrieved.
- If you plan on shopping, leave extra room in your suitcase or bring a soft fold-up bag to carry all your new goodies home. I learned this trick hard and could open a cheap bag shop at home!
- Most airports only allow one small plastic bag for your liquids, so if you travel with hand luggage, decant all your drinks to the smallest bottles you can find. Many good airport pharmacies now stock miniature beverages, which are also helpful.
- Rather than printing off all your travel details and carrying wads of paper, scan all the important documents you need and email them to your laptop or phone. This way, you have all the important documents in one place, and so long as you keep your phone safe, you are good to go.
- Plan your packing as ahead of time as possible. I generally pack a couple of days in advance, and then for a few days running up to the trip, I keep thinking of important items I have forgotten. This trick has saved me time, stress, and money.
- Buy a perfect multi-purpose adaptor that works everywhere in the world. The best ones I have come across have up to 3 USB charging ports that allow you to charge all your devices simultaneously while curling your hair!!
- As much as possible, choose clothes that don’t create a lot. That way you can roll your clothes into your suitcase instead of folding them. The amount of space this saves is quite remarkable.
- Use your shoes as mini storage devices! Runners or sneakers are great places to pack socks, adaptors, curling tongues, vitamin bottles, hats, etc.
- If you are a regular traveler like me, have a checklist of all the essential items you need for every trip. Passports, currency, and business lounge access cards should all be on the list. It can be frustrating to forget your priority pass lounge card and wait long in an airport.
- If you need to wear a different outfit daily, plan what you will wear daily. This is a great way to avoid overpacking. One of my tests for successful packing is if I have worn everything in my case.
- Check if there are laundry facilities where you are going, and if there are, remove half of what you have packed from your bag! Once you can wash as you go along, you will not need half of the packed items. One of the best aspects of staying in one of the Exceptional Villa vacation rentals is that they all come with washer and dryer facilities and housekeepers. some of the villas in the Dominican Republic, for example.
- If you bring your children, let them get involved with the packing. Small kids love the responsibility of having their bag, and it allows them to carry their favorite toy or blankie through the airport and lighten their load.
- Bring some essential items in your hand luggage if you check in a bag. Bags can get lost if you have a toothbrush, change of underwear, deodorant, basic medicine, shaving kit, and mini face cream; you will manage for 24 hours.
- Bring a small emergency medical kit. A few items, like tea tree oil, ibuprofen, paracetamol, plasters, bug repellent, antiseptic cream, and sting relief cream, can be handy, especially if traveling to the tropics.
- If you are checking bags, putting your name and contact details on the case is essential. Please don’t put your address on it, as it notifies people that you are not home.
- Accessories are a great way of making the same outfit look completely different. I always pack a couple of stand-out necklaces, scarves, etc., that can completely change any look. The best thing is that accessories take up very little space.
- Before you start packing, always check your luggage allowances. They can change from airline to airline. Baggage allowances can also vary depending on the type or class of ticket you have purchased.
- If you are traveling to the US and prefer to have your bags locked, ensure that the lock you use is TSA approved. The TSA makes random bag searches and will break a lock if they cannot open it.
- Pack appropriately for the country and culture you are visiting. Before departure, check what the dress codes are. For example, if traveling to the Middle East, you must often keep your arms and legs covered as a woman. Or, if you are visiting a mosque, you may need a scarf to protect your hair.
- Wearing layers is a great trick if you are going to a mixed climate. Warm items are bulky in a suitcase, so pack a jacket, cardigan, and scarf instead, as they are much more versatile.
- I have never used them, but I have heard compression bags can reduce space in your suitcase. You vacuum pack your clothes, and afterward, they take up a quarter of the room!
- Pack a light laundry bag. That way, as your trip progresses, you can keep your dirty laundry separate from the outfits you have yet to wear.
- Buy a luggage weighing scale. Many airlines charge exorbitant fees for overweight baggage, so a luggage scale can be a great way to save money!
- Buy a light suitcase. Many bags these days can be hefty before you even pack one item. So, a soft-shell bag is a great investment, allowing you to bring some extra items, particularly for a long trip!
- Lastly, suppose you are traveling with Ryanair or one of the budget airlines with stringent hand luggage rules. In that case, you can always follow one passenger’s ingenious trick: he took an old oversized coat, sewed all his clothes into the panels, and wore it onboard!!! Take that, Michael O’Leary!
Alexandra Baradi is the Exceptional Villas owner and one of the world’s most trusted villa vacation rental companies. The only feature is personally inspected and 100 percent vetted villas. Their top markets include Barbados, Turks and Caicos, St Barts, Cayman Islands, Antigua, Italy, and Greece.