Tirgu Jiu, RomaniaSeptember 29, 2023
Milan’s Street Art – Exploring Urban Creativity in Lombardy’s CapitalOctober 4, 2023
Read on for The Ultimate Packing Guide - Carry On Edition. A helping hand to guide you on you on your travels.
Ultimate Packing Guide – Carry On Edition
1: Planning Your Trip
Before you even think about packing, it's essential to plan your trip. You should consider the following:
Destination Selection: Consider the climate and activities at your destination. For instance, if you're planning a week in London during autumn, you'll need to pack for potentially rainy and cool weather. If you’re visiting a medieval town, take comfortable flat shoes! Always wear your bulkiest items on the flight to maximise your packing space.
Activity Planning: Sketch out your daily activities and create an initial itinerary. Knowing you'll be exploring museums, parks, and taking walks around the city will help you decide on appropriate clothing.
Versatility: Choose clothing and items that can serve multiple purposes. For instance, a well-chosen scarf can be both a fashion accessory and a practical way to stay warm on chilly evenings. Be mindful of religious practices so as not to cause offence if too scantily clad.
2: Selecting the Right Carry-On Bag
Selecting the right carry-on bag is crucial:
Size Restrictions: Check the size restrictions for carry-on bags imposed by the airline you'll be flying with. Make sure your bag complies with their guidelines to avoid any issues at check-in.
Backpack vs. Rolling Suitcase: Decide between a backpack and a rolling suitcase based on your personal preferences and the nature of your trip. Backpacks offer mobility and convenience, while rolling suitcases provide organization and ease of use. Rolling suitcases are awful to when traversing old cobblestones though so factor this into your decision.
3: Essential Clothing Items
Packing the right clothing is key to travelling light:
Clothing Checklist: Create a checklist (see my downloadable PDF) that includes essentials like underwear, socks, and versatile clothing like neutral-coloured tops and bottoms that can be mixed and matched.
Layering: Plan to dress in layers. This allows you to adapt to varying temperatures without overpacking. For example, a lightweight jumper or cardigan can be a versatile addition to your packing list.
Laundry Options: Research laundry facilities at your destination. This may enable you to pack fewer clothes and do laundry during your stay. Consider hand washing options too, it is easy to pack a solid bar of soap.
4: Packing Toiletries and Essentials
Efficiently packing toiletries and essentials is crucial:
Toiletry Essentials: Include only the essential toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Consider using travel-sized containers or research your destination as it may be more practical to pick certain items up at the local shop.
Multipurpose Products: Look for products that serve multiple purposes, such as a moisturiser with SPF for sun protection. This reduces the number of items you need to pack. Lush sell shampoo bars which are much smaller than bottles and I have used a bar of soap to wash items when caught short with a broken washing machine at the apartment I was renting.
Plastic Bags: Use small plastic bags to prevent leaks and organise your toiletries. Zip-lock bags work well for this purpose. Scented nappy sacks are a great choice for utilising shoe space, simply line the shoes with them and stuff them with anything that fits!
5: Packing Accessories and Gadgets
Don't forget important accessories and gadgets:
Adapters and Chargers: Ensure you have the right adapters and chargers for your electronic devices and consider a portable charger for your phone to stay connected during your trip. Be aware that even an EU adaptor may not be right for the European country you are in Italy uses a rectangular 2-prong rather than the round 2-prong which resulted in a mad dash to the local mall.
Travel-sized Laundry Kit: Pack a small laundry kit for hand-washing clothes if absolutely necessary. It should include a travel-sized detergent and a clothesline. I have never bothered with a kit as my items were always thin enough to dry easily in a bathroom or over a balcony and you can usually be creative with chairs or doors.
Travel Pillow and Eye Mask: These can make long flights or bus rides more comfortable and help you get some rest during your journey. I have never used these as I always felt it was just more to carry but if you are a light sleeper they can make a real difference. Or so I’m told..
6: Maximising Space
Make the most of your limited space:
Rolling Clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can save space and minimise wrinkles. For example, roll your shirts and place them neatly in your bag. I found that even with the rolling technique, there were often hidden gaps between so I would use this space for socks or underwear. A 26ltr backpack held everything I needed for 6 weeks.
Packing Cubes: Invest in packing cubes to keep items organised and compressed. They are especially handy for separating different types of clothing. Consider re-using delivery bags (you know the square plastic ones with the zip lock style closure) to save you having to buy new. I found these more versatile than the actual packing cubes because they are less rigid. Consider the shape and size of your rucksack: some packing cubes end up reducing your space because they fit awkwardly.
Vacuum Bags: Consider vacuum bags for compressing bulky items like jumpers or coats. These can free up a significant amount of space in your bag. I have never needed to use these but be mindful of the fact that they will need to be vacuumed on the return leg: is this going to be possible?
7: What NOT to Pack
To keep your luggage light, avoid packing:
Non-Essential Items: Leave behind items you can purchase at your destination, such as toiletries or certain clothing. For instance, most hotels provide basic toiletries and if you are in hostels or apartments, there is usually a local shop.
Too Many Shoes: Shoes take up a lot of space. Limit yourself to a comfortable pair for walking and one dressier pair if necessary and wear the bulkiest pair to fly.
Excessive Entertainment: Minimise books, magazines, and other entertainment items. Use digital alternatives on your devices to save space and weight in your bag. I travelled with just my phone, no camera, no tablet, no laptop and no books. Also, it is much less stressful keeping track of just electronic device!
9: Tips for Packing Light
Offer additional tips:
Wear Bulky Items: If you have bulky clothing items like a jacket or boots, wear them on the plane to save space in your bag. If you are really pushed for packing space, you may be able to wear a couple of tops and use your jacket pockets for smaller items such as vest tops or socks. Think outside the box and have fun!
Reversible Clothing: Choose reversible clothing items to get two looks from one piece. For example, a reversible belt can serve two outfits.
Coordinate Colours: Stick to a colour scheme for your clothing to maximise mixing and matching options. For instance, black, grey, and white can create a versatile wardrobe.
10: Handling Airport Security and Restrictions
Navigating airport security smoothly:
TSA Regulations: Familiarise yourself with TSA regulations, especially regarding liquids and electronics. Make sure your liquids are in containers of 100ml or less and fit in a single clear, resealable plastic bag.
Security-Friendly Packing: Pack electronics and liquids last so that they are easily reachable as soon as you are in the security check area. Ensure your passport, wallet, phone and anything else that needs removing, is all easily accessible too. This will help speed up the security process.
11: Wrinkle-Free Packing Techniques
Tips to minimise wrinkles:
Roll Clothes: Rolling clothes instead of folding can help reduce wrinkles. For example, roll your trousers to avoid creases.
Use packing cubes or bags: Neatly fold everything in to as square a shape as possible to lay flat and stack. Marie Kondo has some great tips for this!
Use Tissue Paper: Place tissue paper between layers of clothing to prevent creasing, especially for delicate items like dresses. If tissue paper seems a little excessive for a short trip, you can use a thin t-shirt instead, just lay it flat.
The key takeaways:
The benefits of packing light include ease of travel, avoiding additional baggage fees, faster check in and out at the airport and reduced stress. The aim of the game is to maximise your time enjoying your trip and reduce the risk of any snags. I recommend practising packing well in advance, especially if you have never travelled with just a carry on. You will surprise yourself with just how much you can fit in to one small bag. Practising the rolling technique or using the packing cubes will also demonstrate to you how to do so whilst minimising the creasing. I now specifically look for non-crease materials when buying new clothes for travelling.
Apply these tips and have fun!