If you’re anything like me, your next holiday will be days away and your mind excitedly turns to packing. Yes, packing can be exciting - when you’re packing for a holiday at least. But what you take and how you pack can make a huge difference to your experience at the airport, as well as your enjoyment on holiday, as you will find out when you read on...
"When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money," said writer Susan Heller Anderson, and they are wise words that should be heeded by over-packers everywhere. But there’s more to packing than travelling light and being well financed.
This packing guide covers everything, from how to pack your case to what to take to ensure your holiday wardrobe dazzles as much as the sunshine in your resort. Here are some holiday packing tips to make sure that your next trip is free of stress and creases.
Know the rules
Before you even start planning your holiday wardrobe, it helps to get a handle on the luggage allowance for your flight. Though most scheduled airlines allow for hold luggage of up to 23 kilogrammes per person, this isn’t the case across the board. Each airline has different rules on luggage, and especially given that today there are an increasing variety of fare types, even in economy, it helps to know the rules. For example, many scheduled airlines now have fare types such as Economy Light, Economy Classic and Economy Delight, even for long-haul flights - yes, unique names, and each has it’s own rules regarding luggage.
Cheaper fares, such as Economy Light for example, don’t even include hold luggage as standard. So be sure you know what your allowances are to stay within the rules and avoid potentially expensive baggage fees.
If you’re worried about the amount of weight you have in your bag, you can buy travel-sized hand-held luggage scales that you can take with you. You don’t want to go on a holiday spending spree only to have to pay extra to bring it all home, after all.
Writing a list of all the things you need to pack will undoubtedly make things easier and ensure you don’t get tempted to pack things you don’t need. You can also find packing lists that you can download online.
Different types of trips will naturally require different clothing, and you should always check the weather before you leave to ensure you’re taking appropriate clothing. But you’ll also want to be sure you don’t forget essentials such as, passports, boarding passes, currency or currency cards, medication, chargers and adaptors, which should always go into your hand luggage.
Bag it up
Start with the right luggage to nail your packing. A suitcase, whether its soft or hard shell, is usually the best bet for a week or more away. But also be sure to get a case with four spinning wheels to allow you to breeze through the airport without having to worry about it tipping over.
If you’re travelling light and only taking hand luggage, consider a soft holdall as it can be easier to squeeze a little more in around the edges, and it will fit snugly under your seat. Alternatively, consider a cabin case that opens in two for ease of packing. Some even come with a compression section which you can use to flatten your folded clothes to fit more in, and all without crushing them.
Finally, when you’re all packed, be sure to add a strap, colourful luggage tag or ribbon to make your luggage stand out, particularly on a baggage carousel - you’ll be surprised at just how many bags look similar.
Bring order to your case
You may be a meticulous packer, but it is inevitable that as soon as you place your case onto its wheels things will start to shift inside, which can lead to a messy case and creased clothes on arrival. Worse still, if you are taking a twin or multi-centre trip, you can very quickly find your case impossible to navigate.
The simple solution to this is to use packing cubes. Made of lightweight fabric, packing cubes are available in all manner of colours and sizes, with a zipped, often meshed, lid. They are designed to keep items together in your case. For example, you might keep shirts and tops in one cube, underwear and socks in another, and trousers or skirts in another again.
But the main thing is, packing cubes keep your case organised and reduce stress when you’re getting ready on holiday. Forget all that searching through a half-emptied suitcase for the one dress you brought to wear on that particular evening.
Packing cubes are especially handy when you’re on a multi-centre trip - you could even pack items for your first few days in a city in one cube, another cube for your time in the countryside or, for example, on safari, and have a third packed with clothes for your time at the beach. Opting for different colours or sizes for each cube is a useful identification technique, or you can label them with masking tape and a marker pen.
Squeeze it all in
What packing cubes won't do is give you extra space in your bag, but that’s where compression sacks come in. Similar to heavy-duty plastic bags with a zipper, compression sacks have a one-way valve for squeezing air out.
To use them, simply place bulky items like sweatshirts and jackets into the sack, then vacuum-seal it to create a flatter, smaller package, sometimes up to a quarter of their original size.
But remember - while compression sacks can provide you with plenty of extra space, they don't reduce the weight of your luggage.
Your holiday wardrobe
When it comes to what you pack, you want to:
* Create a holiday capsule wardrobe.
* Ensure you have options, but not so many you end up taking a suitcase of unworn clothes back home.
* Add statement accessories to complement an outfit.
Work to a 2:1 ratio - two tops for each pair of trousers or jeans in neutral colours such as beige, white, black, and navy, as these make perfect base items for a day exploring to a night on the town. Add a splash of colour with your top, or a chunky (but lightweight) necklace or earrings, and a neutral handbag and you’re good to go.
Cotton clothing is perfect for warmer climes as not only is it light and breathable, but it folds easily too. But also consider chiffon tops and cover ups, as they can quickly add a little sophistication to a simple pair of trousers and a vest to transform them into evening wear.
If you’re heading somewhere where the weather is set to be cooler, stick with cotton vests, t-shirts and long-sleeved tops and layer up. You may still need to take a jumper, but the layers should have you covered for most weather eventualities.
If it’s set to be really cold, invest in lightweight but super-warm and soft merino wool items such as a scarf, thermal top, socks or leggings. A natural fibre, merino is super breathable, naturally anti-microbial making it odour-resistant and unlike other wools, is usually perfect for those who suffer from allergies. It will also keep you warm and snug.
It’s similar for men, of course, when it comes to capsule wardrobe items and keeping warm. Some men seem to consider packing some sort of challenge to see who can pack the fewest clothes possible. But you should always pack extra essentials, such as underwear, socks and a t-shirt - and if you can pop these into your hand luggage then all the better. Things can happen when you travel, and if you find yourself or your luggage delayed, at least you’ll have some essentials to have you covered.
Keep toiletries bottled
There is nothing worse than having toiletries leak all over your clothes and having to do a major clean up job when you get to your hotel. Instead of big bottles of shampoo, consider a shampoo bar, and soap instead of shower gel. Or leave these things at home altogether and use the toiletries at your resort, or buy essentials when you arrive. They can often be cheaper than prices you pay back home and your luggage will be instantly lighter.
If you must take toiletries though, take off the lids and add a layer of cling film before screwing them back on tightly, then use tape to seal lids on the outside.
Remember you can’t pack liquids of more than 100ml in your hand luggage, and they must be contained in a clear, sealable bag. If you are taking them in your hand luggage, you can stay within the restrictions by purchasing a set of travel bottles, which are small, light, and allow you to squeeze out every last drop of your shampoo.
If all this talk of packing for holidays has left you with the urge to get up and go, then if you are fortunate in being an RCI member, you have more than 4,000 resorts in over 100 countries to choose from when deciding which destination to lose yourself in on your next break. Check out the resort choice available to RCI members on the RCI Directory button below.
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