Oh, packing. The activity we all have to do whenever any sort of travel is on the horizon, yet somehow it causes a lot of stress and problems. A lot of people I know don’t enjoy packing because they are worried they will forget things, it stresses them out, or they don’t pack the right things and end up not enjoying their trip. Well, today I would like to put a stop to all bad packing experiences. Packing doesn’t have to be a headache so long as you approach it and do it the right way (as with most things I know, but this is an easy one I promise). I have spent a lot of time packing in the last 9 months due to my travelling, and it gets easier every time because I have tips and tricks to help me. Now those who are regular readers will know that I am quite organised and tend to stress a lot so something like packing would seem to be a stress-inducing activity right? Well, once I started using these tips, I haven’t found packing stressful at all and in fact, find it quite fun. So, if you aren’t a fan of packing or would simply like to get some tips, here are some suggestions for how to pack like a pro. I hope you enjoy it!
Check the weather
It takes less than 5 minutes to do, yet we all sometimes forget it, and it can make or break the trip if we do forget. Checking the weather is one of those essentials where if you don’t do it, you might end up ruining your trip before it has even started. The reason why checking the weather is essential is because it gives you a heads up of what to expect wherever you are going (it may not be 100% accurate, but at least you can get a general idea) and can dictate what you end up packing. By checking the weather, you will know if you need to pack more jerseys than shorts, or if it is a good idea to pack a thick coat or an umbrella. It sounds stupid and is such a small thing, but by checking the weather before you start packing, you ensure that you are more or less ready for what you will be facing when you arrive at your destination. Imagine how angry you would be if you only had full-length jeans when the weather is boiling hot or didn’t have a coat or umbrella while it is pouring with rain. These annoying situations can all be prevented before they have even happened if you … yup, you guessed it! Check the weather!
Make a list
I know I go on and on about lists, but until someone can find a reason why having a list isn’t better than not having a list, I will continue to spout on about all of the beauty and glories of them. Making a list is crucial to successful packing because it is a way to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. I know, I have fallen victim to it myself, that we all think there are things that we won’t forget because it is just illogical to not remember them. Trust me, we all forget something. When we are in the middle of packing and focusing on fitting everything in our suitcase and our mind is thinking of all the hundred things we need to pack, there are always one or two little things that slip your mind. Making a list is a great way to avoid this because you can sit and write everything down that you need and check it off once it goes into your suitcase, ensuring that you never forget anything ever again. I can’t tell you how many times a packing list has saved my butt when I have been packing for a long trip so try it out. You’ll soon wonder how you ever managed to pack before without your trusty list.
Put it all out
This is a handy trick I discovered when I first started going on trips that were longer than a standard week or so vacation length, and it has been my saving grace (after lists of course – nothing beats a good old list). Once you’ve made your list, instead of packing the stuff straight into your suitcase, lay it out first. Put all your stuff out either on your bed or your floor, folded and ready to be packed, before you put it into your suitcase. Now the reason why I suggest doing this is because even if we have a list, we can sometimes forget one or two things in that we take it out the cupboard, but it doesn’t make it to the suitcase, we never took it out or anything along those lines. By putting everything out before putting it in your bag, you can double-check that you have everything you need and be 100% sure that everything is there and going into your suitcase. Yes I know it sounds like a tip for someone who is either very forgetful or anxious, but in all honesty, I’d rather know for sure that I have it instead of worrying what if or having to buy a replacement once I arrive.
Overpacking … Oh, my word am I familiar with this problem and let me tell you it is a hard thing to try and avoid. There just always seems to be that one thing that you might need and before you know it, your bag is full and overweight. If there is one thing, I can try and emphasise it is to do everything in your power not to overpack because it is only going to cause you problems. So, here are a few suggestions to help you not overpack:
- Apart from socks or underwear, DO NOT pack enough clothes so that you have a new outfit every day. Rewearing clothes is not a bad thing, and you can usually wear the same pair of jeans or shorts for 2-3 days.
- If you won’t wear it more than once or twice, then you don’t need it! Packing things that you want to wear just once is not going to help with overpacking so if you don’t think you will re-wear it and it isn’t absolutely necessary (such as you have a business meeting or special event for one night during the trip and need one formal outfit) then leave it behind
- Pack things that you can wear more than once and that can be worn with different outfits. For example, by packing a few pairs of t-shirts, two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts, you’ve already got more than a weeks’ worth of outfits if you re-wear your bottoms.
I hope these suggestions help save you from overpacking, but if these don’t work, get a friend to come over (or a parent or partner) and get them to go through it. That fresh pair of eyes will probably tell you that at least one or two things can be left behind.
Let’s talk about shoes …
Shoes can be very annoying to pack because they are heavy and dirty and sometimes we don’t know which ones to pack. Well, when it comes to packing shoes, I suggest putting them at the bottom of your bag (because of their weight) and inside either a shoe bag or a plastic bag so that you don’t get dirt all over your clothes. Or, you could pack them on top of your clothes, facing up, again to avoid getting dirt on your clothes. Now, when it comes to thinking about how many pairs of shoes to pack, let me tell you that you don’t need more than three pairs of shoes. Much like with clothes, we tend to pack more shoes than we need because we think we might need them, but the truth is, three pairs of shoes are all you really need. You need a pair of comfortable walking shoes (if you like to exercise on your trips then it is forgivable to pack a fourth pair only if they are your trainers, but then again those could double up as comfortable walking shoes). You need a pair of more elegant shoes that can be worn to restaurants etc. and then a pair of flip flops for when you are just relaxing or if you are going to the beach. Apart from those shoes, leave all of them behind. You know, in your heart of hearts, that you don’t really need them.
When it comes to packing toiletries, I highly recommend that you invest in a good quality toiletry bag (one that is preferably made of plastic so that if something spills, it can’t seep out and onto your clothes). Now if you are only going on a short trip, you might want to invest in some of those travel size bottles because toiletries can quickly bring the weight of your luggage up, especially if you are packing full-size bottles of shampoo and soap. Think carefully about what toiletries are essential and then pack them in your bag. Even if you do have a plastic toiletry bag, I would still recommend putting bottles that can spill/leak (such as soap, shampoo, conditioner etc.) into a plastic bag before you put it in the toiletry bag. I know it seems a bit ridiculous but rather that than getting to my destination and seeing that half my clothes are covered in scented soap and that I have to repurchase shampoo because the contents are all over my clothes.
Hand luggage hack
Here is a little trick that I’ve started using, especially for these two short courses I have been on. I usually travel with my suitcase, a hand luggage case and my backpack because these courses have been 8 weeks or more, and as much as airports are strict about the weight of your luggage, they hardly ever check the weight of your hand luggage. If you realise that your luggage is overweight and there is nothing you can leave behind, take out some of the heavy things and pack them in your hand luggage bag. That way, you still get to take or bring back what you need and don’t have to pay because your luggage is overweight. For example, when I was leaving Oxford, I packed my sneakers and three pairs of my jeans, as well as all my books and standard hand luggage stuff into my hand luggage bag so that my case was at the perfect weight. It beats paying for the extra weight, right?
Remember the little annoying things
Now there are a few little annoying things that we all need when we travel – and the only problem is that they are pretty essential and yet so easy to forget. So this is a reminder to pack those things! If they aren’t on your list (and I can forgive you if they aren’t) then now is the time to add them and throw these items into your luggage. Some annoying things that we tend to forget:
- A hat
Even if you are going to a cold climate, the sun still shines and can cause sunburn, and there is nothing worse than trying to enjoy your vacation while you are all red and burnt to a crisp and just feel sore and sensitive so don’t forget! Two things that you might not remember but are not essential are a swimming costume and an extra jersey. Swimming costume because even in colder places, you never know if there will be a jacuzzi or heated pool so why miss out? A swimming costume is small and doesn’t weigh much, so it doesn’t hurt to pack it. About the jersey, even in the middle of summer on a beach, the wind can sometimes get quite chilly at night and the one thing I have learnt from travelling is that it is better to be hot than cold because you can always take a layer off, but you can’t put on an extra layer if you don’t have one. So, even if you are going somewhere hot and tropical, pack a jersey just in case. You’ll be thankful when the breeze hits and you can still enjoy your evening because you are nice and warm.
Maximise on space
Small tip when it comes to actually packing your suitcase is to try to maximise space as much as possible. Whether you are rolling clothes or folding clothes (personally I fold most of my clothes because it is better for wrinkles and roll my jeans because then they take up slightly less space) try and pack them neatly so that they aren’t taking up more space than necessary. Another way to maximise space is to pack smaller things into shoes (such as socks and underwear) because that way, the area inside the shoe is being used and you don’t have to waste other space on items that could be put somewhere else (like in a shoe).
This tip is more applicable for when you are on the way back from whatever trip you’ve been on. You may have bought souvenirs or little valuable keepsakes, but the only problem now is how to get them back home without damaging them. Putting them in your hand luggage is one idea because you keep that with you and it tends to get less tossed around than your case but sometimes there is turbulence, or your hand luggage isn’t strong enough, and things might get broken. Another idea is to put them in your luggage – in the middle. By putting these souvenirs or valuables in the middle of your suitcase and wrapping them up slightly in your clothes, they are quite well-protected and secure for the flight. My family and I have been doing this for years and have never had something break, even items like snow globes (and we all know how delicate those are).
Don’t leave it to the last minute
My last tip, and I am pretty sure you saw this coming if you are a regular reader and know my hyper-organisation tendencies, is to avoid packing last minute. This is only going to make you stress, and when you stress, you tend to forget more things which will only make you stress more, and it is just a vicious cycle that doesn’t end well. You gain nothing by packing last minute, except possibly a headache, so why do that to yourself? It is so easy to avoid so instead of setting yourself up for stress and to forget things, set aside time to pack so that you can do it in a calm, relaxed way that ensures you don’t forget things unnecessarily.
And so there you have it! I hope that you all found this blog post helpful and informative and that you keep it in mind next time you find yourself packing for something. Packing shouldn’t be stressful, so I hope that these tips make it easier but also help so that you end up packing like a pro without forgetting anything, feeling stressed or overpacking. For my questions of the day:
- Was there anything I missed?
- Do you have any packing hacks you’d like to share?
- What type of blog post would you like to see on Tall Blonde Tales?
As always, thank you so much for reading everyone! I hope you enjoyed this post and if you did, please don’t forget to hit the like button at the bottom of this post and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on future blog posts. You guys are all amazing and happy packing!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx