The end of the year is edging closer, and as it does, we all have the same thing on our minds; a holiday. Whether you’re going to Europe for a white Christmas, or hitting the beaches of Australia to enjoy the incomparable Aussie sun, there’s one dreaded thing you will have to do: pack. If you’re a worrier, packing is a nightmare, because you’re always going to think you’ve forgotten something. If you’re more carefree, and leave it all to the last minute, you may make some big mistakes. So fear not, because we’re here to take the stress, and mess out of packing, so you can get maximum enjoyment out of your much deserved vacay.
Make a list
This is the ultimate packing tip. Not only is a list an obvious way to keep track of what you need, the simple act of jotting everything down will take the pressure off, and help you relax without worrying something will be forgotten. Handwrite, or print your list, and leave it on top of your suitcase or bag. Tick items off as you pack them, and when you're done, take a photo of the list, and pack it in your bag. This way you can use the hardcopy of the list to pack on your way back, and, in case the worst happens and your luggage goes missing, you've got everything written down so you can make an accurate claim with your travel insurance. (Bonus tip: if you're going overseas, get travel insurance!)
Roll don't fold
While the allure of perfectly folded clothes can be irresistible, we urge you to avoid the temptation, and roll your clothes instead. By rolling items, it's easier to wiggle them into all the little nooks and crannies of your suitcase, and it can also avoid getting big straight creases through the middle of your clothes.
Know the rules
Make sure you thoroughly research baggage requirements if you're travelling by plane. Depending on the countries you're flying to and from, and the airline, there can be a huge amount of restrictions that you need to cater to. This includes anything from the airline's maximum baggage weight allowance, to what kind of electronics, and liquids you're allowed to bring as carry-on. Additionally, customs in some countries may prevent you from bringing certain items in. For example, if you're re-entering Australia after a trip to Bali, and have something made of wood, like a bracelet or decorative item, it's likely to be confiscated. The same goes for anything organic.
What to check
You may be tempted to include your laptop, chargers, expensive jewellery, or important documents in with your checked baggage. Do not do this. I repeat, do not do this. While lost or damaged luggage isn't that common, it can happen, and it can happen to you. If you have something extremely valuable, important, or something that has a lot of sentimental value, squeeze it into your carry-on luggage, and don't take your eyes off it. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
The lighter the better
While it's nice that your dad offered to lend you his tacky blue luggage from 1976, it's likely that the dinosaur suitcase weighs a tonne. If you're travelling internationally, backpacking, or staying away for a long time, it's important your suitcase is as light as possible. A suitcase that's a few kilos lighter could be the difference between a relaxing flight home, and putting on all of your heavy clothes in the check-in line, while a queue of angry people form behind you.
Don't trust your liquids
We all think our favourite foundation or moisturiser has a secure lid, and sturdy packaging, but don't risk it. Never trust that your liquids won't leak, spill, or explode during travel. Absolutely anything you pack that could potentially damage your clothes needs to be put in a ziplock bag. In case you're unsure what 'absolutely anything' means, it means makeup, perfume, hair products, skin products, anything that isn't solid (maybe even solids if you have soap or shampoo in bar form).
Protect your makeup
As we've already discussed, your liquid based makeup products should be bagged. But powdered makeup is usually fine in a separate makeup bag (one with a tight zip to avoid any powder staining your clothes). That being said, powder makeup is fragile in a whole different way, and can sometimes crack or shatter in transit. To avoid this happening, put cotton pads, or flattened cotton balls between the powder and the lid, and close it tight. This significantly reduces the chance of your beloved, and expensive powder products shattering.
We all know that 'treat yo self' is the unofficial motto of holidays, and the biggest way to treat yo self is by shopping. We won't judge, and encourage you to shop your heart out. But, when you're packing, remember you're probably going to come home with a lot more than you left with. That's why it's essential to leave extra, empty space in your bag for all of your new international goodies.
Prepare for the worst. . . lost luggage
As we've already mentioned, lost luggage doesn't happen that often, but it does happen. And after 20 hours on planes, and in airports, nothing is going to ruin your day more than arriving in a foreign country only to discover your luggage is gone, and you have no clean undies. That's why you should pack a set of clean clothes in your carry on. This doesn't have to be a whole red carpet worthy outfit; instead opt for a clean t-shirt, underwear, and fresh socks. This should be enough to stop you from having a mental breakdown if you arrive in paradise only to learn you were the poor unfortunate soul whose luggage fell into a volcano while the plane was experiencing turbulence.
Keep it fresh
Suitcases live a sad life. They sit in our cold dusty wardrobes for months, and sometimes years between holidays. As a result, they can get a little musty. Additionally, if you're travelling with shoes or similar items in your bags, you may find that your clothes haven't absorbed the nicest odour by the time you reach your destination. A great way to avoid this is to keep a little bag of potpourri, or a bar of scented soap in your suitcase. You can also use scented drawer liners and line your suitcase with them. This ensures your clothes smell fresh on arrival.
Make it yours
Baggage collection is the airport equivalent of gladiatorial combat. There is enormous suspense as you wait for the baggage to start coming down, and then when you finally spot what you think is your bag, you need to fight your way to the front of the crowd, and wrestle your bag from your ultimate opponent: the baggage carousel. There's nothing worse than fighting through a crowd only to discover you were eyeing someone else's black, rectangular suitcase, instead of your own black, rectangular suitcase. An easy way to ensure you always know which bag is yours is to decorate it and make it distinct. While a thick, bright string of ribbon is sometimes enough, there are other options for those looking to go the extra mile. Firebox sells custom suitcase covers that are printed with an enormous photo of your face, so that your suitcase is unmissable.
Keep it clean
We love our shoes, but that doesn't mean they aren't extremely dirty. Save your clothes from getting caked with mud, or sprinkled with year old dirt or sand by bagging your shoes when you pack them. A great way to do this is actually to stretch a shower cap over the soles of the shoes; the elastic of the cap will secure it to your shoes.
Don't pack outfits
While your pink crop top, acid wash jeans, and leopard print heels may be a great look for a night out, none of those items are particularly functional on their own. Instead of packing a collection of outfits, pack individual items that are easy to interchange, like a few shirts and singlets, a couple of pairs of pants, a light jacket, and something heavier depending on where you're going. Versatility is key, because you want to be able to get the most wear out of the fewest items.
Leave the salon at home
Of course we all have our favourite shampoos, conditioners, and body lotions, but having half a dozen bulky bottles of product is going to increase your chance of leaks, and decrease precious space in your bag. Unless you have particularly troubled hair or skin, take a chance on the hotel hair care and shower options. While they aren't as luxurious as your salon hair care, they will do the trick. Compensate for these missing items by packing a few smaller key products. For instance, my hair is flat and dull, but instead of packing my bulky volumising shampoo and conditioner, I'd opt for a travel sized dry shampoo, and a 100ml bottle of sea salt spray to add texture. These are items I would have packed anyway, but by removing the less necessary shampoos, and other items, you're gaining a lot of real estate in your suitcase.
The modern world is amazing, and because of our wonderful technology, we can often travel cash free, with money stored on bank cards, or international money cards instead. If you're opting for the digital option, more power to you. But that being said, it never hurts to have a little cash on you before you arrive in a foreign country. You can usually head to a post office, or currency conversion outlet to grab foreign currency and we'd recommend doing this before you leave your homeland. This means if you arrive overseas and grab a cab to your hotel, you're not going to be stuck in a jam when the driver reveals they only take cash.
Don't pack towels
This shouldn't need to be said, but unless you're heading for a beach destination and absolutely can't live without your lucky beach towel, please leave towels at home. The same goes for blankets and pillows. While hotel towels and linen may not have the same soft feel as your favourites at home, no one ever died from using a hotel towel, and you won't either. If you absolutely can't bare to use the towels or touch the linen in a hotel, at least be smart about your choices. Grab a compact or mini microfiber towel designed to save space while travelling, and a sleeping cocoon to protect you from unfamiliar sheets.
We're not talking about smart casual, we're talking about using that brain of yours before you fly to make good choices about your packing. One of those good choices is wearing your bulkiest items on the plane, and on travel days. This includes your chunky boots, and very stylish, but very enormous teddy bear coat. By keeping these items out of your suitcase you're freeing up a massive amount of space for what's really important; all of the stuff you're going to buy overseas.
Make your undies last
We've all been there; you're living it up overseas, without a care in the world when you realise you've done no washing, and you're wearing your last pair of clean undies. While many campers have told me that turning your worn undies inside out for a second day of wear is a great option, I wholeheartedly disagree. If you've got limited clothing or access to laundry services overseas, and want to make your undies last, panty liners are an essential item to take. They don't take up much space, and changing them out can significantly extend the wear time, and freshness, of your underwear.