Packing for your holiday or trip has to be the least exciting aspect of going away. Cram too many clothes and accessories into your suitcase and you have the worry of exceeding the airline baggage allowance, but don’t pack enough and you could find that you haven’t got the essential items necessary for your trip away.
Packing your suitcase is all about being practical and ensuring that you have the fundamentals, and believe us when we say that there really is a fine art to packing your bag!
Whether you’re going abroad for a week of blissful relaxation or have been sent on a business venture for a couple of nights, there are a number of valuable packing hacks to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.
By following our 75 tips to easy and successful packing, preparing for your journey never has to be a stressful event again. So avoid the last minute desperate attempt of sitting on your suitcase as you wrench the zip closed for the sake of fitting in that last pair of shoes and pack the smart way!
Make a list, and use it
Jotting down everything you need for your holiday will help to ensure that you pack the essentials which you might otherwise forget if you start packing without preparation! Categorising your list into groups such as clothes (day and evening), toiletries, shoes and important documents will also help make sure you cover all bases.
Invest in a lightweight case
Suitcases have been greatly modified over time to become more lightweight and easier to transport. Purchasing a lighter weight case for your journey will also make keeping to the specified baggage allowance of your airline much easier. Take a look at Debenhams’ selection of travel suitcases.
Ensure all clothes are clean
After arriving at your holiday accommodation, you don’t want to have to find yourself desperately washing your clothes in the sink because you forgot to put a wash on before going away! Putting your shoes into bags at the bottom of your case will help to keep your clothes stain-free and smelling fresh.
Roll your clothes to avoid creasing
While you want to avoid washing your clothes upon arrival, likewise, having to get the ironing board out should also be prevented. After all, you’re on holiday to enjoy yourself and relax! Rolling your clothes instead of folding them is a great way of helping to make sure that they don’t become creased.
Invest in clear plastic bags
Avoid liquid spillages ruining your clothes and invest in some zip-lock or travel bags such as this set of Clear Travel Bags from Boots. Should you need to put liquids into your hand luggage, you will be required to place them into clear plastic bags so it’s always best to carry some on you when travelling abroad.
Fill pockets of space
As you to start to pack, you’ll begin to notice pockets of space appearing in your suitcase. Maximise the space in your bag by filling the gaps with socks, chargers, belts, and other accessories.
Leave space for souvenirs
When packing to go abroad, it’s best to make sure that you are well enough under the baggage requirement to allow for any holiday souvenirs you spot to be brought back home.
Check what items your accommodation already includes
Bath towels, hairdryers and other such items will only take up additional space and weight in your suitcase. Contact your holiday accommodation or take a look on their website and ask them what sorts of items are already included with the room.
Use a lock for your suitcase
Suitcase locks are another great way of helping to keep your luggage safe and secure. Having a couple of sets of keys made is a good idea, keeping one in your hand luggage and giving the other to another member of the travelling party to be on the safe side!
Wear bulky clothes instead of packing them
Save space in your case by wearing heavier, bulkier clothes. As summer outfits are generally much lighter than your winter wardrobe, make sure you wear your heavier items for the flight. You may even be thankful of your jumper or coat keeping you warm and comfortable during the flight!
Always carry a spare change of clothes for the flight
Mistakes with baggage going missing do unfortunately happen, so it’s also best to carry a spare set of clothes and essential toiletries in your hand luggage to be on the safe side.
Shawls or scarves are great for replacing bulky, heavy coats
Another useful space and weight saving trick to be aware of, packing a shawl or scarf is a good way of keeping warm when the temperature begins to drop of an evening.
Don’t pack at the last minute!
Packing last minute is when mistakes will occur. You’ll either end up forgetting something essential or running out of space! Packing the day before travelling or at least laying everything out ready is a good idea as this will give you time to think about what you might still need to take with you and ensure that you set off on time the following day.
Weigh your bag before arriving at the airport
Getting to the airport and having to pay a hefty fee for your suitcase exceeding the baggage allowance is something you’ll want to avoid as much as possible. Make sure that you weigh your suitcase before heading to the airport, and always double check what the baggage allowance guidelines are for the return part of your journey, as these may well be different when flying with another airline.
Label your suitcase
Suitcase labels aren’t just there to look pretty, so make sure that you have filled in your contact details should your luggage be misplaced.
Place breakables in socks
Ensure that delicate or expensive items are well wrapped amongst your clothing and placed in the middle of your suitcase to minimise the chances of them breaking. For smaller breakables such as perfume or aftershave, a great tip is to place them in socks which will help to protect them.
Use a distinctive-looking suitcase
Once you have got off the flight and made your way through passport control, the wait for your suitcase to appear on the conveyer belt can often last a lifetime. Choosing a patterned or brightly coloured case, or even just tying a ribbon on the handle will help you to spot your case more quickly and easily.
Pack heavy items closer to the wheels
Keep your heavier items such as shoes and toiletries towards the bottom end of the suitcase where the wheels are, as suggested by Marie Claire’s travelling hacks. This will ensure that the weight of your case is distributed more evenly and that your clothes won’t be crushed by the heavier items.
Seal your suitcase
To help keep your luggage more secure when flying, sealing your suitcase using a layer of film can help to prevent damage occurring, as well as stopping anyone from tampering with your case.
Take extra bags for dirty laundry
It’s always useful to carry some spare plastic or canvas bags on your holiday in order to store your dirty laundry. These can also prove handy should you also require a beach bag or day bag, and won’t take up too much space or weight in your luggage.
Prepare for the possibility that your journey might be delayed, or that your devices could run out of battery and pack various forms of other entertainment including crosswords or adult colouring books such as these ones from Waterstones.
Keep chargers and wires in one place
Organising iPod earphones, phone chargers and other cables by putting them in a separate compartment or see through bag will make them easier to locate and save you the hassle of emptying the contents of your bag in search of the correct wire.
Ear plugs and eye mask
These can be just as useful for napping on the plane as they are for getting a good night’s kip whilst you’re away on your travels, so make sure to keep them in your hand luggage for ease of use.
Put everything onto one device
Rather than taking various photocopied documents, pads of paper, books etc. away with you, taking a work laptop or something lighter such as a notebook or tablet will be much easier. Having everything to hand on one device may also look more professional and save you having to sift through various paperwork in search of important documents.
Photocopy important documents
While from a space-saving point of view it could be easier to keep everything on one device, making copies of important documents is never a bad idea too. Should your device run out of battery or perhaps your case ends up goes missing, having these documents secured in your hand luggage will ensure that you’re still prepared for your work trip.
Pack smart clothes with extra care
A lighter suitcase will instantly help prevent your smart clothes from becoming wrinkled. Neatly folding or rolling your clothes is the best way to prevent them from creasing. As recommended in Good Housekeeping’s Seven Tips for Smooth Packing, as plastic helps to reduce friction, packing your clothes into zippered bags is a great way of keeping your clothes smooth and unwrinkled.
Cut back on shoes
Shoes are incredibly heavy and bulky, so if you’re looking to make cutbacks in your choice of luggage, try and reduce the number of shoes you take with you. If attending a business event or meeting, then you’ll probably want to take a smart pair of shoes with you. If you decide to wear your smart shoes in order to save space in your bag, it could be worth taking a travel polishing kit to ensure they look spick and span!
Don’t forget adapters for your electronic devices
Your business trip may require you to take electronic devices such as a phone or laptop which will probably require charging. Make sure that if you are travelling abroad that you don’t forget to take a couple of adapters with you, preferably prior to arriving at the airport so as to avoid paying more than you need to.
Always have a plan B outfit
A stained shirt from the tomato soup you had at lunchtime or a pair of laddered tights are not ideal before an important meeting or event. Packing a second work outfit is a good idea should anything disastrous occur in which you wouldn’t be able to wash your clothes in time for your meeting.
If you have space, pack a travel iron
Should you have enough room to pack a travel iron, this will mean that you can give your work clothes a quick de-wrinkle after being in your suitcase. It’s always worth checking with your accommodation first, should an iron already be provided.
Pack some essential toiletries in your hand luggage
As you could be straight into a meeting or event soon after landing, this could mean that you won’t have an opportunity to check into your accommodation and freshen up. Keeping a few essential travel toiletries such as deodorant, a toothbrush, dry shampoo and aftershave in your hand luggage will mean that you can quickly refresh yourself either during the flight or once you’ve landed.
Use a shower cap to cover shoes
Turn your shower cap inside out and place your shoes into the cap to prevent the contents of your bag becoming dirty.
Layer your suitcase in terms of priority
Organising your suitcase so that you have the items at the top which you’ll be using first will make getting changed, especially if you’re rushed for time, that little bit easier without your clothes becoming creased.
Keep toiletries well sealed
The last thing you want happening once you’ve checked in is to find that your toiletries have leaked all over your clothes. Therefore, keep all liquids and cosmetics in tightly sealed and preferably waterproof bags.
Pack a mini sewing kit
Don’t let a loose thread or missing button jeopardise your smart wear by making sure to pack a travel sewing kit. You just never know when it might turn out to be useful!
Opt for neutral colours
If you’re limited as to how many clothes you can take away with you, make sure that you pack neutral coloured clothing which you’ll be able to match with your shoes and coat more easily. As jewellery and other accessories are easier and lighter to carry, this is a great way of adding a touch of style to your outfit.
Pack a travel pillow
As your flight might not be long enough to warrant being given a blanket and pillow, taking your own travel pillow could be a great way of helping you to have a quick snooze, especially if you could be going straight into meetings once you’ve landed.
Gap Year Travellers / Backpackers
Purchase a suitable rucksack
For ease of transportation over a longer period of time, a rucksack would be a more practical option than a suitcase. If purchasing a new rucksack specifically for travelling, then you need a suitable size which will allow you to take everything you’ll need for your adventure, while remaining within the baggage allowance. The best advice is to shop around and have look at different styles! Here are some examples of large backpacks from Mountain Warehouse.
Keep your clothes smelling fresh
When frequently moving from place to place, living out of your suitcase will avoid the hassle of having to unpack your bag every time you reach a new destination. Packing some small bars of soap or scented drawer liners dispersed throughout your case will help to keep your clothes smelling clean and fragrant.
Opt for smaller over larger toiletries
Plenty of shops and supermarkets have travel versions of all sorts of toiletries which will help to make sure that your bag isn’t being taken up by heavy shampoo bottles. If you are travelling with other people, then it’s always worth trying to share your toiletries to help lighten the load.
Check the weather
While you’ll be hoping for dry, warm and sunny weather on your travels, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Checking the weather of the various locations at the time at which you’ll be visiting is essential and will be a great help when it comes to knowing what to pack.
Three tops for every pair of trousers
A good rule to try and stick to when packing for a longer period of travelling is for every pair of trousers or shorts, you should take between 2 and 3 tops. In order for this to work, planning your outfits before packing is key so that you can work out which items of clothes you’ll wear together.
Comfort as well as style
While you might be packing your rucksack with all of your favourite items of clothing, making sure that you have a comfier selection of items which aren’t your best clothes is important when travelling for a lengthier amount of time. Warm, looser fitting clothes could be something more convenient for flying in, so make sure you have a selection of clothes which you’ll feel comfortable wearing in potentially a variety of different climates.
Get a waterproof bag cover
You may well experience a variety of climates during your travels which makes ensuring your backpack has a waterproof cover essential for keeping its contents nice and dry.
Pack gaffer tape
Should the strap on your backpack start to tear or a hole appear on your rucksack, gaffer tape could certainly come in handy for mending any damage or breakages to your bag. A strong tape is generally a handy object to have with you on your travels, so it’s one definitely worth adding to your packing list!
Wash as you go
Travelling for such a long period of time will mean that you probably won’t have the luxury of putting on a fresh set of clothes every day. You may also not have access to the ‘lavishness’ of washing machines which means that you’ll have to wash your clothes on the move. Therefore, make sure that you travel with a small bottle of washing soap or fabric conditioner to keep your clothes clean and fresh.
Always carry a mini first aid kit
When travelling to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language or are unfamiliar with the surrounding area, locating your nearest pharmacy or doctors could be quite a challenge. For this reason, it’s always best to carry a mini first aid kit including things like plasters, bandages, pain relief tablets, mosquito repellent.
Hide your money well
Keeping your money safe is imperative, particularly when travelling for such a long period of time. Splitting your money up is a good way of making sure that you still have some funds to get you by should your purse be stolen or lost. Another tip is also to hide your money in unusual areas your bag. An empty bottle of shampoo, for example, could be a good place to store part of your money.
Buy your little one a Trunki
It’s worth remembering that when flying, your little one can also take a bag for hand luggage. Trunkis are a fantastic way for your kids to transport their clothes around the airport, just take a look these fabulous styles from Trunki. Not only are they easy to pull, but they’re also a fun and innovative ride-on suitcase!
Pack travel entertainment for the kids
Keeping your kids entertained throughout a long flight or car journey is essential. Children can quickly overcome the excitement of playing with toys, not to mention these will take up valuable space in your suitcase. Instead, try downloading a series of games, movies or music onto one device which will keep your kids amused for a much longer amount of time.
Don’t forget to pack your children’s favourite teddy or comforter!
Leaving your child’s favourite toy or blanket behind at home may not go down too well when it comes to bedtime, so make sure you don’t forget to pack these for your vacation. During a long or overnight flight, your little one may appreciate having a teddy or comforter to snuggle up with, so it could be worth packing these into your hand luggage.
Share whenever possible
Toiletries can end up being much heavier than you think, especially once you’ve packed a few bottles of sun cream to suit the various skin types of the travelling party. To help lessen the weight of your suitcase, try to share your toiletries, chargers and other accessories where possible.
Plenty of food and drinks
Stocking up on plenty of snacks and liquids is important when travelling for longer periods of time. Also, as flight times can affect your body clock and disrupt when you’d usually eat, packing plenty of food will help to keep the kids happy should you, face any delays during your journey.
Copies of prescriptions
As well as remembering to take any necessary medications away with you, it could also be worthwhile ensuring that you make copies of your prescriptions should something happen to your bag.
Opt for inflatable toys
When space is limited, lilos, beach balls and similar items aren’t the most practical of items to squeeze into your suitcase. Try and purchase inflatable objects which you can easily deflate again at the end of your holiday.
Disposable cameras for the kids
Looking back at your family photos in years to come is always good fun, so make sure to pack your kids’ hand luggage with a disposable camera for them to enjoy taking some snaps of your holiday from start to finish.
Let all of the kids enjoy being able to watch a movie or listen to music on your electronic device by taking a headphone splitter with you. This also means that you can save space and weight in your luggage instead of having to pack multiple devices and chargers.
It’s always handy to carry a mini bottle of sanitizer in your hand luggage when travelling, to help make cleaning your hands, particularly before eating, slightly easier. Especially when travelling on trains or planes and being in contact with lots of people, sanitising your hands can help to maintain a better level of hygiene and help to make you feel that little bit fresher!
Pack copies of your passport, boarding passes or tickets in every bag
Whether you’re catching a plane or travelling by train, ensuring that you photocopy essential documents such as your passport, boarding passes and other fundamental credentials is a must. Should these documents be lost or something happen to your bag, it’s best to keep a copy of your papers in each of your bags.
Mistakes with luggage going missing can, unfortunately, happen when flying, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible. Ensuring that each member of the family has a set of clothes in another person’s bag will help to ensure that should anything happen to your luggage, you’ll still have a spare set of clothes to change into.
Zip-locks bags for each outfit
Using zip-lock bags can make packing a whole lot easier for your children. Simply organise the clothes into piles, place them in the clear bags and label accordingly. This will help to make sure that you don’t leave anything behind, as well as keep your suitcase neatly organised.
Pack plenty of nappies and wipes for the flight
If travelling with babies and young toddlers, packing enough nappies, wipes and even a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage is a must. Being prepared will ensure that you aren’t panicking around in search of supplies as soon as you’ve reached your destination, so it’s best to take more than enough.
Buy what you can at your destination
Whether you’re travelling abroad or staying in the UK, in most cases it’s worth bearing in mind that you will be able to buy items once you arrive at your destination. From towels to beach balls, all these sorts of items which can take up an unnecessary amount of room in your suitcase could be bought fairly inexpensively upon arrival.
Prepare for all climates
It may be summer, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this means sunny hot days. The unpredictability of the British weather means that while you might be packing your bikini or swimming trunks in hope of a dip in the sea, ensuring that you are just as prepared for the possibility of wind and rain is important.
Use your car to your advantage
If you’ll be travelling using your car, then it’s certainly worth using the added space to your advantage. Enjoy the fact that you don’t have the hassle of cramming everything into one case and having to abide by weight restrictions as you would when flying, and make the most of the added space.
Save money and take food with you
Self-catered accommodation is increasingly popular, giving individuals additional space to enjoy and relax in. It also gives you the flexibility of cooking your own meals as opposed to going out every day in search of a new eatery. Packing a variety of foods and snacks is a great way of making the most of having self-catered facilities, as well a saving you money which you can utilise elsewhere on your holiday!
Remember you have greater flexibility for transporting larger items!
Whether you are travelling by train, coach or car, staycations give you greater flexibility in being able to take certain items away with you which would be much more impractical and expensive when flying. Should you be going away for an outdoorsy few days away with your family, make the most of having the space to pack prams, bicycles or other outdoor equipment which you might like to have on your holiday.
Hand Luggage Tips for Your Mini Break
Don’t underestimate the size of hand luggage
It’s easy to think that you need to put everything into your main suitcase and only take a handbag or small rucksack for your hand luggage. However, a smaller suitcase may be a better option for hand luggage if you’re struggling to fit everything into your main suitcase. As the baggage allowance between airlines differs, you’ll have to find this out when choosing a suitable bag. Take a look at Skyscanner’s guide to hand baggage sizes and weight restrictions.
Know your hand luggage restrictions
When choosing a suitable bag for your hand luggage, make sure that you check what the restrictions are for the airline which you’re flying with. While one airline may allow for a bigger bag on your outward journey, your return flight with a different airline may state different guidelines, so always consult the website for information first.
This can be a tricky one to master, as taking more, rather than less, is the preferable way of making sure that you have all the necessary items for your trip away. Plan out your outfits beforehand and try to reuse as many of your clothes as possible.
Obey the 100ml rule
When carrying liquid in your hand luggage, these must not exceed 100ml. Any liquids must also be placed in a single, transparent bag, so make sure you’ve purchased some of these in preparation for going away. Head to GOV.UK to find out more about liquid restrictions when flying.
Limit the number of electronic devices
Electronic devices such as phones, laptops, iPods and notebooks, as useful as they are, do add weight to your hand luggage, especially once chargers are added to the mix! If possible try downloading music, e-books, games and other applications all onto one device.
Remember, only certain foods can be carried in your hand luggage
If you were perhaps thinking about bringing back a local delicacy or foodie item from your travels, just remember that it might have to be packed in your main luggage and not your hand luggage. Food can be purchased in duty free and put into your hand luggage, yet foods in sauces or higher liquid content foods such as soups have to be put into your main case. Head to BBC Good Food to find out more as to which foods can be brought onto a plane.
Don’t forget your pockets!
Your pockets are a great way of carrying items such as your phone, wallet, camera, chargers and other items which could add weight to your hand luggage. As soon as you land, it’s wise to transfer these items into your bag to ensure that they aren’t lost or stolen.
Keep cosmetics and toiletries to a minimum
Unless you’ll be travelling to a particularly remote location, there will probably be opportunities to purchase toiletries abroad, so don’t worry about packing an excessive amount of cosmetics and liquids into your hand luggage which will only take up additional space.
We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a look at our top 75 tips for packing. Just remember, packing is all about the preparation and not leaving it to the last possible minute! By noting down everything you’ll need for your trip, whether it be work related or a family holiday, and packing plenty of time in advance, you’ll become a professional packer in no time!