What is the one thing that most travellers dread? Packing.
But there is no escaping the torture. Or is there?
I have lived the nightmare more times than Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day … and finally woken up.
I am a reformed packer.
What’s the answer? Don’t think too much about it — just pack the lot and pay the excess luggage fees at the airport.
Just kidding. The “old” me would do that. The “new” me knows the answer is to keep it simple. A bit of angst, just once, will see you on the straight and narrow — or light and liberating — luggage track.
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PLAN AND MAKE A LIST
Ugh. The thought makes me break out in a rash. But it works.
Write down how many days you are away — this gives you the number of jocks, socks, bras and undies you need.
Check the weather forecast then write all the activities, meetings, events and parties planned — and what you need to wear to each.
There is your starting point.
Yes, it’s awful. There’s casual clobber, smart wear, business suits, formal digs, beach or snow gear. What about nightclubs? And the gym. And we haven’t even started on the shoes and toiletries.
The old me would have thrown my hands up in despair while throwing half my wardrobe into a suitcase. Now I say follow the rules and reap the rewards.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
Pack three tops for every bottom. Pants and skirts take up more room than shirts and you can get away with wearing “bottoms” more often.
2. MIX AND MATCH
Start with two core neutral colours (think black, white, cafe latte) for the basics and add two or three colours that co-ordinate and add some pizzazz.
Pick non-crinkling clothes and outfits that make you feel confident — if you find a reason not to wear it at home, don’t pack it.
Think lightweight and layers.
T-shirts, tank tops and cardigans can pile in much easier and are lighter than jumpers and hefty jackets. Pack thermals for colder climates and sarongs for the heat — they weigh less and do more.
4. SCARVES, TIES AND JEWELLERY
These weigh next to nothing, add another layer if it gets cold and can change the look of an outfit you’ve already worn.
If the hotel provide toiletries, cross the basics off your list. That leaves more room for makeup, hair products, straighteners, eyelash curlers … not.
You’re on holiday, leave the gadgets home.
If you want to take toiletries in your carry-on, remember,100ml bottles have to fit in a 1 litre ziplock bag.
You only need three pairs (apparently) — runners, flats (or sandals) and heels.
Sneak in some thongs.
7. TIME TO CULL
Gather the goods on your list and lay them all out on the bed to see just how ridiculous you have been. Surely you can wear that T-shirt twice! Now cull about a third of those outfits. It will have you reaching for another coffee (or something stronger) but it’s worth it in the end.
8. HOW TO PACK
This is like a game of Tetris — fitting lots of different shaped blocks together.
Shoes first — if they can carry anything, fill them up and then place them on the bottom. Slot in all the random bits and pieces around the shoes. The aim is to create a level layer ready for clothes.
9. ROLL, FOLD OR COMPRESSION BAG IT?
The jury is out on which method is better, but how you pack is not as important as what you take with you.
Once you have the ideal tiny holiday wardrobe, I find a combination works best.
Rolling saves space. It makes sense to roll and pack in a floppy backpack.
Commando rolling is a whole other lesson in packing efficiency. Roll your undies, T-shirt and shorts then slide into socks for an entire outfit ready each day.
Folding is perfect for shirts with collars and those wanting order in their suitcase. Try folding with coathangers in place so you can lift them straight out of the suitcase and into the wardrobe.
Compression bags are for the super organised. They save space and can be used to bring home dirty washing.
• Remember to keep a copy of that final list — once the planning is done, there is no need to re-live the nightmare.
• Handbags — you only need one. If you need another, buy it as a souvenir.
• Carry on anything you cannot afford to lose.
• Wear the heaviest clothes on the plane.
• Books — go digital and save space.
• Passport and papers — scan and send yourself (and a friend) a digital copy of your passport and itinerary.
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