PACK SMART – 16-STEPS GUIDE TO TRAVEL LIGHT AND STILL CARRY EVERYTHING
1. COUNT the exact number of days you will be away and quickly go through all the different situations you will find yourself in: is there going to be a pool or a visit to the beach? Are you going to dine out at fancy restaurants or is it going to be a laid-back and casual holiday? Are you going to walk a lot/trek or do anything else that requires specialized equipment? How is the weather going to be? Start thinking about what to take with you.
2. SPREAD OUT THE THINGS YOU WANT TO TAKE ON YOUR BED and don’t put anything in your suitcase straight away – this let you DOUBLE CHECK before you actually pack and, mark my words, there will still be unnecessary things you can do without. Now that you’ve done the short-listing, the real selection is going to come later.
3. START WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR and count how many changes you will need, then move on to socks, pyjamas, swimming costumes, slippers, etc.
4. NOW MOVE ON TO TROUSERS AND SKIRTS and check exactly how many you will need to stay clean without necessarily showing off a new outfit every day. Once you have made up your mind on what’s strictly necessary, pair it up with tops using the same criteria. Choose simple, neutral GARMENTS THAT YOU CAN PAIR WITH DIFFERENT BOTTOMS AND VICE VERSA, so you can still change outfits every day just swapping garment combinations. This way you should be able to narrow down even further your choice of clothes. Think it through, find pieces that go well with more than one top or bottom. This way you don’t really need to have one pair of trousers for every single shirt. Bottoms particularly can be worn more than one day at a time. If you go with the right fabric and colour you can really optimize here! Think jeans for example; they are so versatile!
5. AVOID HEAVY AND CUMBERSOME garments, go for LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY MAINTENANCE items and if you are not attending fancy events try to avoid the temptation to carry with you all the best garments you own. You can rock them back home much more easily and without the anxiety of spoiling or losing them. Holidays should be time for relaxation. You don’t need extra stress! Just leave them, they are gonna be there when you return home.
6. Now let’s move on to TOILETRIES. Gather all the regular, daily items you would like to carry; your day and night cream, you body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, brushes and combs. Do you have them in a SAMPLE size? If yes, just use those even if it’s not the exact cream, lotion, etc you are wearing now. It’s good for the skin to change product once in a while anyway. If you don’t have sample sizes, find SMALL JARS OR BOTTLES to place your product in. You will still have all you need without taking up all that space.
7. Now let’s talk about MAKE-UP. You want to look good but again, isn’t it going to be about letting go, escaping from daily routines and being more relaxed? Do you need the concealer and the foundation, the powder and blush, five lipsticks, two eyeshadows and three different mascaras? What about a blush, a neutral lipstick, a more colourful one and an eye pencil along with mascara? Here’s the motto: DOWNSIZE!
8. MEDICINES should be avoided in my opinion and included only if you require special medications. However, when traveling to certain places, it can be wise to carry basic items that will avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room. I’m talking about rehydration salts, great for tropical and very hot places – yes I have put them at the top of the list because they are that important – anti-diarrheic tablets, ibuprofen, paracetamol and antihistamines.
9. ELECTRONICS AND SUNDRIES are another major category that you should carefully consider. I suggest only carrying what you really need and if you are traveling for pleasure and your laptop is not a must, I highly recommend you leave it behind. You can do basic things on your phone or on a tablet. If you travel for work as I do, electronics are ¾ of your packing and this is why it requires precise instructions. One thing I recommend to everyone is a MULTI-PORT USB CHARGER so you can charge several devices using only one socket. Most places don’t have too many outlets for charging your equipment and besides, packing all those separate chargers is going to add extra weight and volume you can easily avoid by only carrying one multi-port charger and the cables. Last but not least, check what type of sockets are in use where you are traveling and be prepared to either purchase a UNIVERSAL ADAPTOR or one that is compatible with the region you are visiting. If you are planning to buy a local SIM card don’t forget your PIN code before swapping it out!
10. Carry A GOOD READ for the trip and for downtimes. Try to avoid bringing several volumes. If you can, choose one that goes with the theme and mood of the trip and is long enough to keep you company till the end. Options such as a Kindle are also a good choice, however, I still prefer a book I can hold in my hands and turn the pages. In my case, I will also have a NOTEBOOK, yes a paper one, to jot down ideas and thoughts about my travel. So, with that, a pen and pencil are in order.
11. Now, this is the most important part. Hold your breath and ASK YOURSELF IF YOU’VE CHOSEN ONLY WHAT YOU NEED WHILE LEAVING ALL THE FLUFF BEHIND. Once you are sure you have sifted through all the extras, you can go ahead and pack. Make sure you pack the big garments, trousers, skirts, dresses and tops first, keeping them at the bottom of your case, underwear and sleepwear at the top. You will need them first and they will be handy if you are moving around and don’t want to unpack everything as soon as you arrive. Socks and pants are top fillers so wait to put them in till last minute. MAKE SURE YOUR DELICATE ITEMS (perfume, hair dryer and makeup bag) SIT IN BETWEEN THE LAYERS. This will cushion any fragile items and make sure it reaches your destination safe and sound. Avoid placing them at the very top, bottom or corners of your suitcase. Even if your case is hard shelled, they are more likely to be damaged if jostled or dropped. Middle is best.
12. Last, let’s talk about shoes and coats/jackets. DECIDE NOW HOW YOU WILL DRESS WHEN YOU TRAVEL and do your best to have the most cumbersome jacket and pair of shoes on you so you can carry the extra pair (if it’s necessary to bring) in your case.
13. Your bag need to be full if you want to make sure nothing gets broken. Everything has to sit exactly where you have placed it because if there is room, things will move. DON’T CHOOSE TOO BIG OF A SUITCASE. They are difficult to carry around and additionally impossible to fill without going far beyond any airline weight limit for a single bag. Small or medium trolleys are just what you need, regardless of the length of your trip. It’s true! I promise.
14. After you have checked the airline’s rules for baggage allowance, WEIGH YOUR SUITCASE on a scale and make sure you don’t have extra kilos. You definitely shouldn’t, but if you do, check with the airline to see if you can pay for a couple of extra kilos or what the cost is for an extra suitcase. It’s always better than having to pay when you are there or even worse, having to open your bag to remove items because you surpassed the weight limit for a single bag. You will destroy in a second all the work you have done so carefully at home.
15. Now close your bag. Don’t keep it open because you want to put in your toothbrush last minute. Just buy another one for the trip. Toothbrushes, brushes and similar items don’t expire so you can always use them later on. LAST MINUTE ADDITIONS ARE THE ONES THAT MORE EASILY GET LEFT BEHIND. Don’t risk spending the first hours of your trip running around in search of toiletries. It’s no fun.
Lastly, make sure you have in your HAND LUGGAGE all valuable items along with everything you want to have with you while you travel. Remember, the suitcase is to be opened only when you reach your destination, every time you open it along the way you risk forgetting something and undoing all the good packing you have done. I normally have in my hand luggage, my documents, my laptop, phone and chargers, my photography equipment, a book and notebook, airpods, my wallet, some wipes and paper handkerchiefs, basic toiletries and socks if I am not wearing any. I also always like to carry a big scarf/shawl to wrap around myself on the plane should it get cold.
With that said, you’re ready to see the world! bon voyage!