I don’t know about you, as much as I love holidays, the getting ready for the damned thing can be more stress than it’s worth. Packing is the worst bit of that.
I seem to pack as though I am going into the wilds of Africa for six months and can’t possibly buy anything should I forget it or even worse, live without it.
Holiday essentials are a different ball game than they used to be. We’re lucky that we can fit all our music on our phones, no need to spend weeks making mix tapes of all the essential holiday tracks. Same with the Kindle, we can have a library of books at our disposal instead of lugging half of Hogwarts in our hand luggage to avoid the scary scales.
But even with all this technological wizardry, I find myself panicking about what to take and what not to take, so I’ve found a few tricks over the years which I’m going to share with you.
Now my first tip is something I get a lot of grief for but I don’t care. I’ve got one word and that’s spreadsheet.
Yes, I have a few spreadsheets that I keep for various types of trips. You may be laughing but hear me out. I have a city break one, a long haul one, a beach holiday one and a Glastonbury one. Obviously they need updating each time for all the fabulous new clothes that I had to buy but they are quite a good base to avoid reinventing the wheel. I know it seems slightly overkill but I reckon you will thank me when you get to your destination and you’ve remembered everything.
I am a sucker for gadgets and the best thing I bought recently was a luggage scale thingy. It was pretty cheap and not only did it reduce the anxiety of trotting up to departures and finding out I’m over the allowance before I’ve left Manchester, but it meant that souvenir shopping could be done without fear. I will never forget when I went to China and my case was borderline too heavy at Heathrow, let’s just say that a lot of Chinese chambermaid’s husbands got new clothes that fortnight.
If you’ve got the luggage scale but not the luggage, then take it with you when you go to buy. There is no point in a load of packing tricks if your case is practically lead lined. There are tons of lightweight cases on the market now so don’t be afraid to get your scales out in the shop.
OK so the holiday is booked, the spreadsheet has been completed and your cases are open on the bed ready to go.
There is more to this than simply folding clothes. Rolling is the way forward. Every last inch of that case needs to be used so that you can get all the essentials in. A recent discovery of mine and one that I’m getting dangerously nerdy about are packing cubes. They are ace! Small packs that you can roll up your clothes and squeeze them into. Apparently they reduce you’re the amount of space needed in your case by up to 30%. Think how many bargains you’re going to be able to fit in your case while you’re away.
I recently went to South Africa and we were travelling around a lot so it was great to split my clothes up by destination and only have to get out the pack that was relevant for that night or two night’s stay. If you’re staying in the same spot, you don’t need to be quite so anal about it but I wouldn’t do it by categories of clothes. You can often fit a cheeky pair of socks in when a pack looks full. The other good thing about these is that clean and dirty clothes aren’t sat next to each other.
If you’re a fan of rolling, then I would recommend getting everything out on the bed so that you can mix and match rather than packing by section. Get it done in one foul swoop I say.
Don’t forget there is dead space inside your shoes and trainers as well, they can take some socks or undies too. Shoes also make good transportation devices for fragile souvenirs that you’re bringing home. Murano glass survived Italian bag handlers by cowering in my trainers. Whilst we’re talking about shoes, if you’re sick of dirty shoes marking clean clothes, make it a point to pinch the shower caps from hotels and use them to cover the soles of your shoes. In fact, I always go through the complimentary stuff in a hotel and take what might come in useful. You just never know when you’re going to need that extra coffee sachet or sewing kit. If a particular hotel’s complimentary game is strong, they’re asking you to bag it.
Toiletries are always the worst thing for weight and bulkiness. I try and get tubes of things so that as you use them, you can save the space rather than dragging around half empty bottles. You would think someone would come up with a decent, plastic free alternative for holiday toiletries. Mini collapsible reusable dispensers please.
I don’t need to tell you to wrap problem toiletries in bags, I do need to tell myself though which is why upon arrival, my things are always covered in shaving cream or sun lotion. This is a piece of advice I definitely need to remember.
In this world of essential electricals, I do put chargers and batteries in separate bags for easy access. You never know when you need to root around in your case for the phone charger. Make life simple is my motto. A friend of mine had left a lithium camera battery roaming free in her case and had to literally unpack it in front of the queue until she found it.
So those are my tips, I would love to hear from you on any you have. Let me know in the comments below.