HOW TO PACK LIGHT
Over packing is one of the biggest travel mistakes. Don’t burden yourself… all that lugging luggage is a killer on your back and stress levels. And it can be costly in terms of storing and transporting (particularly in the U.S. when you consider tipping).
Travelling light might make a difference to your budget too: if you have too much luggage, taking a taxi might be the only and most expensive option for transfers. It could rule out walking or taking public transport – both of which are fantastic ways to really get to know the place you are visiting.
So, before you get packing, try these ideas:
* Lay out everything you think you will need. Now halve it.
* Have a friend help you decide what to take.
* Don’t pack in a hurry, allow enough time pre-departure to get organised. Rushed decisions can mean bad decisions. Remember, being organised is about making good decisions.
* Save almost-empty toiletries and cosmetics (toothpaste, shampoo, hair styling products) and stash in your suitcase ready to go next time you travel. Liquids are weighty and the less you pack of these the better. Bonus: if they spill it’s not a full container! If there’s only a tiny bit left while you’re away, you can throw it out before returning home.
* If you don’t have ‘almost empty’, consider sample sized bottles of toiletries.
* Think versatile: shampoo can also be used in place of soap and laundering smaller items.
* Pack only versatile clothes. An outfit that is a specific combination (eg shoes for a particular frock) means you may end up with many items you only wear once. Choose items that are the most versatile; trousers than can be dressed up or down, a cardigan or jacket that goes with everything.
* Pack plenty of socks, t-shirts and underclothes as items like jeans and jumpers won’t need laundering.
* Don’t take ‘just in case’. Take: I’ll definitely wear it. The truth is, unless you are travelling on business, you will probably wake in the morning and pull on the jeans you wore yesterday (hence, a good supply of t-shirts is mandatory).
•Plan what you will wear each day and pack accordingly. Randomly chucking stuff in a suitcase means you are likely to take too much.
* If you are packed to capacity it will be hard work every time you take something in or out of your suitcase. Travel light and pack with a sense of order – you will find what you need without wasting time.
* A suitcase or bag gives you a boundary (just like the walls of your home, the rooms within it and any storage like bookshelves of cupboards). To be organised, you must always have room for the future. You will probably make purchases while away, or be given a gift: make sure there’s ample room in that bag to bring it home!
* It’s hot, you’ll probably wear the most comfy pair of shorts you own most days. If it’s an in-between season, you’ll be wearing that cardi or zip up every day.
* When packing, button up shirts, and ‘shop fold’ them (like how they are presented in a store). Wrinkles will show less this way. Better still, take non iron items!
ALWAYS pack travel insurance. www.smarttraveller.gov.au says if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. I wholeheartedly agree.
ONCE YOU GET THERE
* Wrinkles in clothing are often caused by overpacking… may sure your bag is not bursting at the seams.
* Unpacking as soon as you arrive will minimise wrinkled garments.
* Make it your golden rule to only ever buy FLAT or small souvenirs – postcards to augment travel photos, a small painting or sketch, a sticker or fridge magnet.
* Better still, consider wearable items: I still wear rings from NYC and London every day.
* Or, consider a ‘useful’ purchase.. my Art Deco sugar bowl is from Camden Markets in London. A brolly, bag, shoes or wallet are all fabulous, practical souvenirs. I love having things in my life that come with fond travel memories.
* Snow domes aren’t that practical to collect – but they’re worth it!
* If you are travelling overses, you only need to take one voltage converter (provided one will cover all the countries you’ll be visiting AND a powerboard. http://www.korjo.com has a complete adaptor guide). Laptop, mobile phone, camera battery and hairdryer can all be plugged into a powerboard that is then plugged into the converter. How’s that for a good idea?
LABEL YOUR LUGGAGE
* Laminate a business card (Snap Printing can help) to place inside your luggage and to make a luggage tag. They’ll last for ages and will save handwriting tags.
WHEN YOU GET HOME
One final tip: once you’ve returned from your journey, do an audit to determine what was used and what wasn’t.
Make a mental (or written) note about what you didn’t use, what didn’t leave your bag and what you could have done without.
I have done this from time to time and found it’s a valuable reality check. If you’re serious, weigh the unused items too: you might be shocked at the excess baggage. I’m afraid I once travelled with 4kgs excess… that’s way too much.