How to Become a Packing Expert

Backpackers-on-the-beach-at-sunset-Koh-Tao.jpg

The thought of packing strikes fear into some, and excitement into others. Packing for your trip, however long or short, hot or cold, formal or informal can be a minefield, if you let it, and can turn you into a crazy person. A crazy person who thinks that, despite never wearing yellow, this work trip will be the appropriate time to crack out that canary yellow silk jumpsuit. I am no exception. Like I say, I'm not the sort of person who relishes the idea of packing my life into a bag which is a) small enough to comfortably carry and b) roomy enough to fit all the makeup I want to bring. However, I have been travelling for a wee while now and think I'm in the process of becoming an expert.

Yep, I said it; I'm a freaking packing expert y'all and I'm going to share my process with you.

I know, I know....it sounds silly and a little bit po-faced but people -- it's a process. There are no shortcuts to becoming a packing expert, like yours truly, and you do need to channel our inner Virgo and take a step back. Don't panic, take a deep breath and remember that I am a PACKING EXPERT so don't backchat me and do everything I tell you, buy everything I tell you and do not question me.

Jokes. Naturally I am no expert but I am more experienced at packing for a trip than the average Joe or Moe. I have made mistakes, which I've even written about on Her Packing List, and I will continue to make mistakes but, with each error I make I get a little closer to packing perfection.

I am going to show you how I attack approach travel packing.

Travel Light: I have some great packing Tips for you. Girl with pad writing a packing list for travel

Get your notepad and pen out, because the first step is to identify a few key things about what you are packing. Where, how long for and what you will be doing are the three questions you should ask yourself first. For example; if you're heading to India for three weeks to visit temples, you'll need three weeks worth of outfits appropriate for touring temples (aka - covering knees and shoulders).

Going a bit deeper, I always make sure I know what the weather's like in each place I visit. Some countries, like India or Australia, are so vast that you could hit 30-degree dry heat in one place and 21 degree Spring conditions somewhere else. It's also pretty important to know if it's the rainy season and how likely it is to rain: the rainy season in South East Asia is very different to the epic monsoons of India.

Think also about whether you can wash your clothes along the way (or pay someone else to wash them, like me!) and if you will have any occasions to wear anything 'faaaaancy'. I think it's always a good idea to have something to wear that you feel a bit more 'glam' in, but if you're trekking to Everest base camp, this rule is pretty pointless.

Travel Light! I travel long term with carry on only. This is me and my little Karrimor 35 litre backpack

Get your pen and paper out and prep a 'first stab' packing list and pull everything you think you want or need out, so you can see it. This step is crucial (for me!) to avoid over-packing. I've read endless travel packing tips online, and almost all of them say that once you've packed everything, you should 'take a third out'. Or maybe it's 'pack a third less', I don't know. Anyway, I never find this helps as you end up panicking and taking out too much, too little or the wrong things.

It's not about how much you take; it's what you take.

So, you should now be looking at everything you would potentially like to take with you, organised by type preferably, in your wardrobe or laid out on the bed/floor. It's now time to critical review and cull.

This stage is relatively simple, if you've followed the previous steps of identifying what you need to take, how much and the main activities you're planning on, um, acting? You get my point. So essentially you ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Does it fit? Obviously here, you will need to try it on. Doh.
  2. Will it go with at least two other items?
  3. Do you need it? Can you buy something similar (or even better?!) when you get to your destination?
  4. Can you live without it for a few weeks? If yes, then you can probably live without it for longer.
  5. Will this item be used at least once a week? If you answer no, ditch it. NB obviously with the exception of medicinal things and stuff you need for your period. DOH, again.

After you have answered the questions honestly, you should have a chunk of stuff ready to pack. Start with your packing cubes, if you have them, and plan what you're going to pack in each one. For example, I pack my clothes together, bikinis & underwear together and 'stuff' in the last, small one. I know, highly original right?!

How you pack, is entirely up to you but I would like to encourage you to do the following things:

  1. Roll, don't fold your clothes. It will save space, I promise.
  2. Utilise every inch of space. Socks can fit in trainers, and empty tic-tac boxes are awesome for hair grips (bobby pins).
  3. Keep to this rule with regards to weight distribution: Light at the bottom, heavy in the middle and light again at the top. I find that my toiletries are often the heaviest, so they squidge nicely in-between.
  4. If you have a backpack like my Karrimor (which is epic and so cheap), then utilise all the extra pockets.

I use the bottom pocket for shoes (keep those dirty stuff away from your nice clean clothes!). The side pockets and top section are great for things you need to access immediately. I pop contact lens solution inside the side pockets and my passport, tickets and a change of clothes in the top section.

So, there you have it. Five easy ways to become a packing expert. I challenge you all to try my simple ways to pack for your next trip, and, of course, if you found this post helpful -- please share it with your friends:)

L x