The summer months are probably the ones when most people travel. Be it for a couple of days or a month, July and August are months when the roads are full of traffic, the airports are crowded and the hotels fully booked.
But with the excitement of the summer holidays comes a big stress for many people: packing.
I know there are people out there who obviously have magic powers and can get their luggage looking neat and ready in under 30 minutes, miraculously never forgetting anything or over-packing. Now those are some serious skills we all would love to have. I can't claim such perfection but years of travelling both for business and leisure, and my innate perfectionism and attention to details, have made me quite skilled at packing.
Before mentioning a few tricks that could help make your packing process if not enjoyable at least not torture, I'd like to point out that preparation is key. There are three things that would help you start with the right foot:
- The right suitcase: Think about where you are going and for how long. A big four-wheeled Samsonite is probably not the right thing to carry your clothes with if you are going on an adventure or backpacking trip. And if you'll be staying at the beach in a nice hotel, you don't want to deal with the amount of wrinkles your summer must-haves will have if you stuff them all in a big rucksack. Bigger isn't always better. Think about how long you will be away. If it's a weekend, a good holdall will be enough, you don't need that carry on. And think about how much weight you'll want to carry: there are now good options of light luggage and foldable bags that you can take with you and fill with your trip purchases.
- A system: I don't understand how some people can make a suitcase without having a system. The obvious way to make sure you don't forget anything is to have a list and then check it as you put the items in. Lists take different forms: some people like to write them on paper, others keep them on their phone, maybe an excel spreadsheet (that's for the real geek in you). Personally I use a "visual" grid method:
I think of the type of events I will be attending, how many days I'll be away, how often I might repeat an outfit, the spirit of the holiday
I think of my body from top to bottom and make sure I take care of every part of it, be it in accessories, clothes, cosmetics, jewellery for each and every occasion, making sure I have at least one spare option
Lastly I add all the miscellaneous items such as phone chargers, iPads, books (Passports are not considered miscellaneous items, they are essentials!)
My motto is "minimum input for maximum impact": When on vacation, you should have fun and improvise, try new things. But don't let the improvisation filter to your outfits too. If you have a clear idea of what you will be wearing and when, you can pack complete interchangeable outfits and feel calm in the know that you have everything you need and no extras are bulking up your suitcase. This is the time of using the theory behind the capsule wardrobe at its best.
Once these three things are under control, the rest of the process becomes easier.
Here are my top 5 tips for packing a suitcase like a pro:
1. To roll or not to roll, that is the question: if you read travel blogs you will find many different opinions on how to lay your clothes in your luggage. A lot of people swear by the rolling method, because it limits the amount of creases and theoretically increases the luggage capacity. I’m not in that camp, I prefer to layer my clothes, usually by type of garment. I’ve been doing it for may years with excellent results so it’s hard for me to change, but I encourage you to try both options and see what works best for you. What is extremely important is not to chuck your clothes inside the suitcase, that will make them look wacky and they will take more space.
2. Accessories: Ladies, put your jewellery in some sort of organiser: Use a pill organiser for smaller items and a pouch for chunky jewellery. Gentlemen, remember to pack your ties with care, either store them in their own bag or roll them neatly to make sure they get to wherever you go in perfect condition.
3. Zip-lock bags or any bags really: they can be used for about anything. And they are great for travelling. Separate all your electronics and miscellanea in them to make sure nothing gets tangled and you can find whatever you need straight away. Separate your lingerie. Have single bags for your shoes.
4. Beauty products and liquids: If you travel by plane, remember to isolate your beauty products and liquids; shaving foams, creams, cleansers, make up etc. in separate plastic bags just in case airplane pressure makes them spill. I usually cover my glass containers with bubble wrap to stop them from breaking. Even pens can be an issue and bleed into your favourite bag if you aren't careful enough.
5. Safety: Never check in a suitcase with something you would regret losing inside it. During peak season the amount of incidents and luggage losses increase, don't let it ruin your holidays.
These are well tested tips that work for me. But if you follow travel bloggers and vloggers, you can stay up to date with the new trends, there's always something that promises to make our lives easier. The latest? Packing cubes. A great idea if you are travelling light and don't need to maximise every inch of your suitcase. Everything will be neat and organised.
If after reading all these hacks, the prospective of packing a suitcase still gives you a headache, leave it to the experts. Many companies offer to pack for you, leaving you stress free. It's one of the things I help you with so, if you are overwhelmed, give me a call!
''When you figure out your suitcase, you figure out your life'' Diane Von Furstenberg.
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