A holiday is meant to be about fun and relaxation, but there’s nothing fun or relaxing about schlepping through the airport, up and down stairs, and over cobblestone streets dragging an enormous suitcase. It’s even less amusing at the end of your holiday when, after all that effort, you realise you’ve only worn half of what you brought with you.
That’s why most seasoned travellers have gotten packing down to a fine art. You don’t want to leave anything vital at home, but equally you don’t want to be weighed down with unnecessary items – it makes hopping on and off the bus or train that much easier, and definitely reduces the risk of being hit with an excess baggage fee while flying.
If you’re struggling with what to pack for your next holiday, here are some things to consider to ensure your luggage doesn’t (literally) drag you down:
Consider your itinerary
Think about the activities you have planned for your holiday, and the clothes and other equipment you’ll need to take part. Only bring items if you know for sure you’ll need them – for instance, don’t bother bringing bulky hiking boots if there’s only a remote chance you’ll ever leave your sun lounger.
Check the weather
Research the climate of the place you’re going and check current weather reports for the days you’ll be there. Admittedly, this is easier to do for short breaks than long-haul trips, but you can still get a fairly accurate idea of whether you really need that fluffy wool jumper or massive bottle of sun cream.
Choose your wardrobe wisely
Many experienced travellers advise keeping your wardrobe fairly low-key while on the road. Each piece of clothing you bring should match all the others – this will allow you to create the greatest number of outfit combinations with the fewest number of clothes. Also, follow on from the first two tips by selecting clothing that will work for both the climate you’re visiting and the activities you have planned.
Remember you can do laundry
If you’re travelling for a longer period of time (perhaps any more than five days), remember that you don’t necessarily have to bring enough clean clothes for the entire trip. Pack a small bag of laundry detergent (don’t bring more than you’ll need) and wash items to be reworn – this will effectively double your wardrobe. Many travellers swear by clothing made of ultra-lightweight fabrics that dry quickly just to make this process easier.
Pay careful attention to your shoes
If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, make sure you’re not bringing along shoes that need to be broken in or that aren’t suitable for long periods of wear, or else they’ll end up being a dead weight in your bag.
Edit your toiletries
All those big bottles are bulky, so only bring your absolute essentials and either find trial-size versions (most chemists stock a good selection) or decant products into refillable travel bottles. And be realistic – do you really need to bring all your make-up on that trekking holiday in Nepal?
Wear your heaviest clothes
On the days you’re travelling from place to place, wear whichever clothes and shoes are heaviest or take up the most room – coats, boots, and jeans all come to mind. Granted, this is easier to do when you’re travelling between two destinations with similar weather conditions; its one thing to hop on the bus to Ireland for the weekend, quite another to jet off to Australia for six months.
The cardinal rule of travelling light is always to remember that if an unexpected opportunity does arise, you can always purchase items you need at your destination, whether this means clothing, sporting gear or cosmetics. Essentially, if you want to travel light, you’re better off making room for contingencies in your budget rather than in your luggage.