Whether packing weeks in advance is your jam, or your pre-departure ritual involves you throwing crumpled shirts into a bag and praying you’ve grabbed enough socks at the last moment, packing properly is essential to being ready for any scenario your travels might throw at you.
It’s okay, we’ve all been there; finally arriving at a hotel room after a long journey only to unpack and realise that something hasn’t made the journey with us. But never again will you have to make one pair of underwear last a whole weekend away or pretend that chewing gum is a substitute for a toothbrush – not with this packing checklist; we’ll teach you how to pack like a pro for any type of trip.
Weekend city break
A small holdall will suffice, but don’t just throw things in willy-nilly. If you’re travelling on public transport, pack your delicates away in their own zipped compartment (or smaller bag) to avoid underwear-based embarrassment when you rummage for your ticket. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes: comfortable sneakers to explore a new city in and a nicer pair for dinners or dancing. Figure out what you’re planning to wear all weekend beforehand so that you don’t waste space with unused outfits. Let the ‘If you don’t NEED it, it’s not coming,’ mantra rule your packing like the savvy-traveller you were born to be.
If you’re taking a flight, pack cleverly and you can get away with just hand luggage – saving money and skipping the baggage queues at the airport. Be sure to check your airline’s hand-luggage restrictions though, and make sure all of your cosmetics or toiletries are in cute miniature sizes and in a plastic zip lock bag for security.
Long weekend in the countryside
We all need to escape to the countryside once in awhile; I’ve heard that fresh air is good for you. But with a break from hectic everyday life comes a few practical notes on packing. Walking boots or wellies (or old trainers at the very least) are essential. Freely roaming green pastures and hiking to the top of tall hills to get the best views for your instagram feed are the best way to get out and enjoy nature, and you’ll want sturdy, waterproof shoes to do it in.
Make sure that a pair (or two) of dark jeans make it into your luggage, they won’t show up any of the mud you’re likely to encounter. A hoodie or warm jumper will become your new best friend come the evenings, which are best spent curled up by a fireplace or sat around a bonfire with friends. During your daytime adventures, fill a small rucksack with a light raincoat, sunglasses and plenty of water bottles for your adventures, and invest in a portable charger to keep your phone juiced in case you get lost or spot a perfect photo opportunity.
Two-week trip to the Caribbean
Cast those hoodies aside – you’re off to one of the sunniest places on earth! Actually having said that, be sure to pack at least one long jumper; even if every evening of your holiday remains balmy and rain-free, it’ll be a shock when you land back home and your t-shirt and flip-flop combo doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Plus mosquitoes will have a field day with you if you’re not covering yourself a little at sunset.
This two-week trip is all about the letter ‘S’. The Caribbean Sea, sand and sunshine translate into the language of packing as swimwear, shorts, sunglasses and suncream. Bring a few different styles of swimwear to keep you looking great (and avoid abrupt tan-lines) and some SPF30 sun cream to make sure that tan doesn’t become burn. Here you’ll live in tees, tank tops, shorts, skirts and flipflops – if you’re even wear shoes at all. Bring loose / baggy items, or in the midday heat you’ll understand the meaning of the word ‘clingy’, and you’ve ever been tempted to try and rock a straw hat, this is the place to do it. A beach bag, a towel and a good book will set you up perfectly for lazy days by the shore, although remember that if you’re staying at a swanky hotel, there’s no need to bring your own towel.
Gap year in Asia
For 12 months of country hopping through one of the world’s most popular gap year destinations, luggage can only take on one form – a rucksack. Invest in a decent backpack with padded straps (you’ll thank me later) and plan your packing well in advance. As you’ll be carrying everything you bring on your back, really focus on only the essentials and be very sparing with the clothes you bring along – you could easily bring your wardrobe for a year of travel. Resist the temptation. Plus, with cheap knock-offs and markets in every city, you’ll want some room spare to bring back goodies.
Don’t forget to bring a second bag to use during the day and to keep your valuables in. A smaller backpack, with a zipped inner-pocket will keep wandering hands away from precious passports and travel tickets. On the subject of security, padlocks and cable ties are handy to secure the openings of your luggage when using cheap, popular boat and bus transfer services.
On a practical health note, toilet roll, antibacterial hand gel or wipes, and an array of bodily function-regulating medications are as essential as sunglasses and sunscreen. I don’t need to explain the reasons for this.
Year studying abroad
Part of packing like a pro involves predicting what you’ll need and being ready for literally anything. When faced with moving abroad for a whole year, it’s super easy to fill suitcase after suitcase with clothes, but those of us well versed in the art of packing know that on most tips, even long ones, less is definitely more. Bring outfits for every season, but leave room to add to your wardrobe while you’re away. Unless you’re moving to the Himalayas, your new home will have shops so you won’t need every single shirt you’ve ever owned.
Don’t forget to pack a few home comforts to help you settle in, like your own bedding or some photos. With a fair amount of luggage in tow, you’ll need a big hard-case suitcase with wheels to move through airports and countries with ease while protecting your worldly possessions – this is not the time for a backpack.
BONUS: long-haul flight
Everybody knows that a gripping book, a few magazines, a bag full of snacks and an iPod bursting with the latest beats are essential packing items for a flight. But when you’re faced with wasting eleven hours on a long-haul jet, there’s even more to consider.
Plug yourself in withnoise-cancelling headphones. This will ensure you remain blissfully unaware of screaming babies or your companion’s loud snores and your own music won’t bother anybody else. Pack a neck pillow to help you grab a few hours’ sleep once you’ve raided the in-flight entertainment system. Bring an eye mask as well if it’s a daytime flight. In addition to your valuables, a spare pair of clothes (including underwear) should be squeezed into your hand luggage. If your main suitcase goes astray you’ll be able to survive for a few days.