Four years ago, I was definitely that person who would try and fit their entire wardrobe into their suitcase. I wanted every possible outfit combination, every beauty product and every gadget in my bag. But time after time, I would return from my trips having used only fifty percent of what I packed. So I mastered my packing skills and now I only travel with a carry on. Wishing someone had passed this knowledge onto me years ago, I’m passing what I’ve learnt onto you now, because nobody wants to lug around super heavy bags that are full of ‘just in case’ items.
CHOOSE YOUR CARRY ON BAG WISELY
Packing in just a carry on can seem restrictive, but with one in five of us being hit with excess baggage charges and airline carriers constantly increasing fees for checked baggage, travelling this way not only saves you money, but it also gets you on your way quicker when you reach your destination.
Whether it’s a backpack or a carry on suitcase, this tip begins before you even think about going away. Do your research and buy a bag that’s suitable across multiple airline carriers. Chances are, you won’t be flying with the same airline every time you go abroad and you don’t want risk being caught out with an oversized bag as you’re boarding your flight.
Ensure you choose a durable bag and one with various compartments. The minimal space in your luggage means you should be as organised as possible.
PLAN YOUR OUTFITS
Time after time, we return from trips having used only fifty percent of what we packed. So the first thing you want to do is check the weather of where you’re going. Packing with this in mind makes the task a lot easier. If there’s a possibility of rain, yes you might get a bit wet, but there’s no need to pack an entire rain outfit and umbrella.
To pack as many outfit combinations as possible, pack versatile items. Lay your chosen outfits out, to help you visually organise and to see where you can mix and match. Rather than packing an entirely different outfit for every day and every activity, get creative with your looks to make them appear different. It’s amazing what a scarf, a jacket or a belt can do.
The rule to stick with, is if an item can double up its purpose then pack it, if not, it stays behind! Lightweight items that you can layer if it gets cold work well, and neutral tones go with pretty much anything.
ACCESSORISE, ACCESSORISE, ACCESSORISE
Beautiful jewellery shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions, so always travel with a few of your favourite pieces. It’s best to avoid bulky pieces, instead opting for simple pieces that take up minimal space. It’s the easiest way to dress up an outfit and it’s great for transforming a day look into night. Think outside the box and turn a choker into a head piece or layer multiple items together.
CREATE A TRAVEL BEAUTY BAG
A lot of hotels will provide you with basic toiletries free of charge, if it’s not in your room all you have to do is ask the concierge. From toothbrushes & toothpaste to floss, shaving kits, shampoo, body wash, nail care, sewing kits – some even hire out hair straighteners and curlers. So you can quite often get away with packing the bare minimum. All you have to do is contact the hotel prior to find out what they have available.
For products you can’t live without, transfer the contents into travel size containers and only pack what you know you will use. If you’re unsure whether to pack the red or pink lipstick, look again at your chosen outfits and pick the colour that will go best overall. And when it comes to medication, only pack for the number of days you’ll be away. That way you’ll save on space and unnecessary weight.
HEELS, BOOTS OR TRAINERS?
When maximising your travel comfort, it’s extremely important to choose the right shoes. Heels that look great on but are impractical for walking around all day, need to stay home. You might look super cute in them, but when you’re covered in blisters the next day and forgoing activities because you can’t bear to walk, you’ll wish you listened to this tip.
Limiting yourself to three pairs maximum, is the best way to go. This includes the one you’ll be wearing at the airport. A pair that matches almost every outfit is a must, and if you have several occasions where heels are required then a pair of classic black heels is the way to go. Black goes with everything and they’ll be opportunities at home to wear your others.
WEAR YOUR HEAVIEST ITEMS ON THE FLIGHT
This is pretty much a given, but an important one not to forget. Once you board your flight, you can easily de layer and get more comfortable.
WHEN IT COMES TO ACTUALLY PACKING
Ah, the rolling technique. This technique is amazing, yet so many people fail to do it. By rolling your items (opposed to folding them), it not only helps to keep them crease free, but it compresses your clothing, making it easier to stack, ultimately creating extra space in your bag.
PURCHASING THOSE MUST HAVE ITEMS
You’re holiday is coming to an end and you’ve just bought that stunning dress you saw in a boutique window because you can’t live without it. But your carry on is completely full and your starting to panic. If you absolutely can’t fit it in, then when you get to the airport, ask a sales assistant in one of the shops for a bag. Nine times out of ten, airport security will just think you bought a souvenir and won’t question it.
QUICK FIRE TIPS
- Wrap curling irons & straighteners in an oven mitt for heat protection. Especially when having just used it and packing moments later.
- Fold your underwear inside your bra. It not only saves space but helps to hold the form of the cups.
- Trade your bulky handbag for two small clutch bags. They will fit nicely in your carry on and you can opt for both a day and night option.
- Fill every available space in your bag. Put your socks in their natural environment, inside your shoes!
- To prevent pressed powder or eyeshadow from cracking, place a flat cotton wool pad in between the powder and the lid.
- Pack jewellery inside a pill case. Each item will have it’s own compartment, making it easily accessible and will prevent tangling.
- Place your shoes, sole-side down inside a disposable shower cap. This will protect your clothes from any dirt and grime.
- Purchase a clear makeup/toiletry bag. This way you’re already prepared when going through airport security. And don’t forget to place tape around the lids of your items to prevent spillage.
And yes, everything listed above fits into my Dakine backpack! It’s easier than you think to travel with just a carry on. I’ve done every season, longest trip being three weeks and I wouldn’t travel any other way.