Before we jump in to my top packing tips let us start with a confession. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve felt I’ve got holiday packing down to a fine art. Yes really. I’m clearly a late bloomer in this department as no matter what method I tried I just couldn’t do it. I could never pack outfits that coordinated, let alone the right clothes for the weather, and as for packing everything for a long weekend in hand baggage? I wouldn’t even consider it. Or if I did I’d always end up forgetting something vital or realise, on arrival, that I didn’t have any outfits that actually worked.
And then I turned 31 and it’s like a switch happened in my head. I was suddenly able to pack like a normal person. Miracle of miracles! So in case there are any of you that still struggle with this packing malarkey, or those who just want to refine your packing skills, I thought I’d share my top packing tips with you.
I’m also thinking that my future indecisive self might appreciate this post when I suddenly forget how to pack like a proper, organised human. Let’s be honest we know it’ll happen at some point!
Research, Research, Research!
There’s a reason this is number one on my top packing tips list. Quite frankly it’s absolutely vital. If you don’t know what the weather will be like or what activities you’ll be doing you’ll never pack properly. Also if you’re going on holiday with someone for the first time you need to chat to them and check you’re both on the same page. If they’re all about ticking things off a must-visit list and you’re more about drinks in the sunshine then you need to thrash that out from the beginning, because nobody wants to be walking 20,000 steps a day in just a pair of sandals.
I tend to make multiple lists when I’m packing. The first one is of what special items I’ll need. So do I need a sun hat or a waterproof jacket, or will my running trainers be needed. What about guide books, who is bringing those? Next up you need to make a list of everything you want to pack. I separate my list into clothes, accessories, tech stuff, special items, toiletries and personal stuff. That way things are parked with their counterparts and it’s easier to see if your toothbrush isn’t listed under toiletries. What’s key on the lists is to be VERY specific. If you’re taking four pairs of knickers, write ‘knickers x4’ or if you need a phone charger and a kindle charger make a note of it. Brevity is not key when it comes to lists.
Create a Diagram
Now bear with me here. I know this sounds like a weird tip… But once I’ve got my list I look very closely at the clothes part of it. For each pair of bottoms on my packing list I draw lines to the tops that will work well with it. If an item doesn’t work with multiple other items it gets removed or I switch in a different item that works with it. There are some items that I’ll allow in if they don’t have multiple lines connecting them to other things, I’m talking dresses or fancy shoes. But only if I know I’ll be wearing this item – i.e. there’s an evening event planned, etc.
Stick to Two Clothes Related Rules
I always stick to two clothes related rules when packing as it definitely makes it easier! Rule one, when it comes to clothes packing, is to stick to a certain colour palette. I tend to go for a lot of navy and grey with splashes of colour and stripes. That way everything goes together easily. Another top packing tip, and rule two, is to choose clothes that can be layered easily. That way if it’s colder than you anticipate you’re sorted. Or if you buy too many goodies while away you can wear lots of layers home! Plus items that can be layered tend to be thinner and take up less space in the suitcase. Fact.
Now let’s talk accessories, my rule of thumb? Make your choices and then remove at least one of each item. Let’s be honest you don’t need three bags or six necklaces. So put some back. Bag wise I find a smaller bag and a roomy tote are the way forward – that’ll sort you for most eventualities.
Think Carefully about Extra Stuff
By extra stuff I mean the guide books and reading books, magazines and extra fun bits. First up we have guide books. Firstly find out if there will be wifi where you’re staying? If not you need to pack a guide book, which can take valuable space. But if they’ll be wifi then leave the guide book at home, simply do your final research when you’re there and screenshot everything. Think of the space you’ll save! Book wise think about how much you’ll read. If like me, you’ll get through multiple books then pack your kindle instead. Love magazines? What about downloading one on to your iPad and also getting the Kindle app? That way you’ll have everything you could ever want to read on just one device.
Now I know this one sounds weird as people have very specific toiletries needs but if you’re traveling with good friends or family the chances are this will work! Think about it you can probably all use the same shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo for a couple of days. And what about hand cream, most of us can make do using a different brand for a day or so.
Another of my top packing tips? Leave at least a layer on the top of your suitcase that’s empty. You’ll need it for the return journey once you’ve bought all the souvenirs!
So there we go, those are my top packing tips. What tips do you guys swear by?