Essential Packing Tips For All Travellers
A trip is never fully prepared until you have stuffed that last pair of shoes and added yet another shirt into your suitcase, until there is quite simply no more room left. Packing is an art form. Over the last 15 years of travelling around the world I’ve made a lot of mistakes when it comes to packing. I’ve overpacked. I’ve forgotten some items. And even if I still haven’t mastered it completely, I have picked up a lot of tips and tricks over that time. That’s why I thought I would share some essential packing tips and the lessons I’ve learned to save you time, stress and some avoidable packing disasters.
Essential Packing Tips: Get inspired
On my very first trips I used to take absolutely everything with me. My suitcase always weighted the max 32 kg allowed and I would end up batting my tearful eyes at the check-in counter, begging the person behind the desk to let it go. Even if it worked 9 out of 10 times, I quickly realised that I was carrying way too many unnecessary things. Now, I can travel with a backpack that fits under the airplane sit and have enough things (- different outfits) for up to 2 weeks (even if the actual trip lasts only 3 days 🤪).
Today, I start packing by making a research first. For that, I use my favourite app: Pinterest. I simply type the name of the destination and add ‘outfits’. I save the outfit ideas that correspond to my style and start to create similar compositions with my own wardrobe.
Take it all
I do want you to take it all … out. That’s how I proceed. I take out everything that I WISH I could take. I divide the cloths into categories (pants, dresses, skirts/shorts, tops/shirts etc). After that, from each category, I create the ‘must take’ and ‘maybe’ piles. After that I put the ‘maybe’ piles back in the closet- if it’s a maybe, then it’s a no. I review the ‘must take’ piles and see what kind of combinations I can do to create different outfits. If there is a pair of shorts that I really want to take, but it doesn’t go with any of my tops or shirts, it becomes a ‘no’ pile. You get the idea.
↬ READ: The Best Apps For Travellers
Let’s make this essential packing tips article easier, let’s make a list. Clearly this list will depend on your way of traveling, the destination and your personal style. It’s a general list of clothing for a 2 weeks (or longer) trip. You can base your final selection on it. Try to choose clothes in natural colours and natural, light fabrics. It will be much easier to mix and match them.
- 3 short summer dresses
- 2 long dresses (one day, one evening)
- 3 pairs of shorts (jeans, white, colorful)
- 2 pairs of long linen pants
- 5 tops/tanktops
- 3 shirts (white linen etc)
- 4 bikinis
- 2 leggings (one long, one short) plus sports bra
- 1 or 2 sweaters/hoodies
- 7 pair of underwear, 7 pair of socks
- Pyjama or a shirt to sleep in
- 1 hat, 1 baseball cup
- Lightweight day bag
- Rain jacket
- A big scarf that can be used as a pareo, towel, blanket
- If hiking is planned: hiking pants & top
- 4 pair of long trousers
- 1 pair of warm & waterproof pants (so you can play in the snow)
- 4 sweaters
- 5 thermal long sleeve shirts (I love Uniqlo for all the thermal pieces!)
- Thermal leggins
- 2 nice shirts (for dinners)
- 2 down jackets
- Warm hat, scarf & gloves
- 7 pair of underwear, 7 pair of socks (thermal)
- Pyjama or a shirt to sleep in
- 1 swimwear (if there are thermal baths)
A journey of a thousands miles begin with a single step
… Wearing the right shoes. Shoes are the real space killer. That’s why it’s important to be brutally honest with yourself about what you’re going to be doing on the trip and what is essential to fulfilling that bucket-list. From my experience, on long trips you need 4 pair of shoes: sneakers, sandals, flip flops (made out of rubber like Havaianas) and hiking boots (unless there is absolutely no hiking involved on your trip). And that’s it.
Do not, I repeat, do not bring new shoes on a trip. Take only those which you know are comfortable.
Depending if you are a guy or a girl, this paragraph might interest you more or less. I mean- Hamilton could travel with a bar of soap, a deodorant and a toothbrush and would need nothing else. Me on the other hand? Well, as all other girls I need to take care of my skin a bit more. That being said, a trip is not the place nor time for a complicated beauty routine. First of all- there are way better ways to spend your holiday time than worrying about eyeliner. Secondly, your skin will enjoy the break from everyday makeup and look flawless thanks to a bit of sun, sea breeze and rest. Here is a list of items that should be in your cosmetic case:
- Shampoo bar
- Soap/shower bar
- Face wash
- Face cream
- Spf cream
- Toothpaste, toothbrush
- Micellar water or wipes (for when water is not available)
- Mosquito repellent
- Basic medicines and first aid kit
Of course everything in travel friendly sizes (up to 100 ml). Make sure to pack all liquid items that can spill in extra plastic bag, before putting it inside of your cosmetic case.
Fold or roll
The ultimate question we have the answer to. One of our essential packing tips is that if you travel with a backpack- always roll your clothes. They take less space like this and are much easier to get out. If you travel with a suitcase- fold them nicely and put the heaviest pieces on the bottom. It will reduce the wrinkles on your clothes and you can easily pack and unpack.
Most travellers are big advocates of packing cubes. We join this group only if we travel with a backpack. Rolling the clothes and stuffing them into packing cubes divided into categories makes it much more organised.
However, if we travel with a suitcase we never use packing cubes. We just organise the clothes in categories and pack them accordingly in piles. Like this they are easily accessible and less wrinkled.
The only two things I always keep in packing cubes (or actually in tote bags) are my bikinis and underwear.↬ TIP: If you are traveling to a cold destination and need to bring down jackets or big sweaters use vacuum bags.
Pack & charge your electronics the night before
Crucial. You don’t want to start your trip finding out you forgot the camera battery. Check all your electronics the night before. Charge everything that needs to be charged. We store all our cables in a tote bag. Here is a list of our electronic equipment:
- Sony Alpha IV + 24/105 + 70/200 objectives
- Empty memory cards
- DJI Mini 4 Pro
- Manfrotto gorilla pod
- Manfrotto tripod
- iPhone + 2 chargers
- Usb C cable
- MacBook Pro + charger + car plug charger
- Boom waterproof speaker
- Wall plug adapters depending on the country
To check in or not to check in
In general whenever we can, we try NOT to check in our stuff. Not only it makes you lose precious hours, each time there is a risk your bag will get lost. The rule is simple- if you are traveling for less than 2 weeks, you can squeeze all your things into a small suitcase and/or a backpack and avoid checking it in.
If you are traveling for longer and must check in your luggage, we advise you to get AirTags to track your bags. Don’t forget to pack all the necessities in your carry on. And pack one extra ’emergency’ outfit in there (in case your luggage doesn’t make it).
Extra essential packing tips
Here are some extras essential packing tips that you will always need on your trip:
- Grayl bottle
- Water bottle
- Laundry bag
And remember- in reality there are only 3 things you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE with you.
- PASSPORT/ID/DRIVING LICENSE
- CREDIT CARD/MONEY
Everything else you can get at your destination. Before you leave home, look inside your hand bag and check you have those 3 items above. You do? Then you can leave the worries behind and enjoy your trip!