I love packing. Like, I really love packing. Is that weird? I’m pretty sure that’s weird. I could watch endless ‘What’s in my Suitcase’ and ‘Pack with Me’ videos on Youtube. I just love organising and planning, and packing is one of the ultimate organising and planning experience. And I’m pretty good at it. I’ve even had the security people at the airport compliment me on my packing skills. Now I’m not saying that was the proudest moment of life, but ya know, it’s up there (coincidentally it was followed by one of the weirdest moments of my life when a man stopped me on the escalator to tell me I didn’t have to answer the security people’s questions and that I really shouldn’t talk to them at all… yeah okay thanks pal).
Anyway, I do realise that this isn’t a normal reaction to packing and that most people don’t really enjoy it. In fact, a lot of people seem to loathe it. I must admit that even I find it to be over-whelming and stressful at times. You want to consise and precise, but you also want to have options and not forget anything. So to make things easier, I’ve listed some of my top tips below, as well as going through what I packed when I went to London for 5 days and how I packed everything, so you can use it a guide for your next trip!
- I’m a big fan of making lists. I always make a list of everything I’m going to take with me at least a week before I go, this helps me make sure everything is clean when I go to actually put it in my suitcase and that I don’t forget anything (sidenote: this is also important if the airline loses your suitcase because when you claim from them, they ask you exactly what was in your suitcase and that can be harder than you would think to remember!)
- Pay attention to what you use on a daily basis in the days before you leave (make-up, skin care etc) to make sure you’re not forgetting anything super important. I sometimes pack these things a few days early so I know if I’ve forgotten something if I have to reach for anything that’s not in the bag!
- Check the weather. It’s a simple one but important. I know weather forecasts can’t always to trusted but it’ll give you an idea of why to expect.
- Versatility is key, you want to think about clothes you can wear during the day but also at night if you go out for a nice meal. Think smart casual (I hate that term because it’s so vague, but it does invoke the kind of clothing I’m trying to describe).
- Packing cubes are your best friend. If you’ve never used them, I would highly recommend investing in some. Mine are from Muji and Eagle Creek but you can find them in lots of different places, like Amazon, for a variety of different prices.
Here’s how I put those tips into action when packing for 5 days in London:
For both hand-luggage and checked luggage, I always use packing cubes and bags to organise my stuff. It just means that everything has a place and you can fit everything in more efficiently. It basically just becomes like a big version of Tetris, and who doesn’t love Tetris? For this trip, I put my clothes in packing cubes from Eagle Creek; they are actually their compression cubes so they help to condense everything and take up as little space as possible. I put my handbag in the dust bag it came in, but I just used a shoe bag from Primark for my sandals, so you don’t have to get super fancy with this. I travel a lot, and as previously discussed I love packing, so I’ve invested in a lot of my packing accessories, but you definitely don’t need to do that! Just use whatever bags you have on hand or buy some cheap ones, you’ll get the exact same effect.
Here’s everything I had in my small suitcase:
- Underwear – pretty self explanatory but important. Maybe the most important.
- Make-up – In here I put any makeup that isn’t a liquid, along with a shower cap and an exfoliating glove. I would just recommend having a place to put miscellaneous beauty things you need to bring. This case is from MUJI; I’ve had to for years and I love it!
- Sunglasses – This will depend on where you’re going but, since I have light sensitive eyes, I think they’re always a good idea to throw into the suitcase (in a case of course, please don’t be one of those people who throws their sunglasses into bags without a case, the anxiety that stirs within me is far too real!)
- Straighteners and hairbrushes – some people may not need to bring any hair styling tools, or may need to bring something different, but I always bring my GHD straightener because I use it most days to style my hair.
- Chargers – I just needed chargers for my camera and phone but obviously if you bring a laptop or tablet, you would need a changer for those too.
- Clothes – 2 dresses that would work for day and night, a cardigan that goes with everything, a causal top and a nicer top. I wore jeans on the plane (see my outfit here) that looked good with both tops.
- PJs/comfy clothes – I brought pjs and leggings (to wear when I’m relaxing or on the plane home)
- Handbag – I like to wear a little backpack on the plane, so in my luggage I have a small cross body bag that can also be worn as a clutch in case I go out at night or just don’t want to use my backpack. I make sure this bad goes with all the outfits I’m bringing.
- Sandals – I wore shoes on the plane, so in my suitcase I have a pair of birkenstock. I live in birkenstocks in warm weather but if you wanted to bring something a bit dressier, that would work too.
I keep anything valuable or sentimental in my small backpack because on smaller planes, they can take your suitcase from you and I want to make sure I keep the most important things with me. I also try to keep anything I will need to put my hand on when I’m travelling in my backpack (my passport, phone, money, liquids etc.) just to make life easier for myself. The flight to London is so quick that I just listened to music and played games on my phone, but I also make sure I have anything I need to keep myself entertained on the plane in this bag.
Here’s everything I kept in my small backpack:
- Jewellery – again, I keep anything valuable or sentimental in my smaller bag, just in case!
- Reusable tote – always comes in handy!
- Passport – obviously very important. Don’t forget any tickets or other important documents.
- Money- I tend to bring 2 purses if they have a different currency where I’m going.
- iPhone – or whatever phone you own…
- Camera – if you have a good camera on your phone, this is really necessary but I like to take my actual camera with me too.
- Snacks – probably the most important thing to be honest…
- Face-powder – I have oily skin so this is a must.
- Headphones – pretty self-expaliniorty.
- Reusable bottle – this is good if you’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic you dispose of on a daily basis. A lot of airports have fountains where you can fill your bottles up, or restaurants and cafe usually don’t have an issue filling them up if you ask nicely.
- Misc. – pain killers, ginger tablets (for travel sickness), tweezers, deodorant wipes… basically just random things that don’t have a place.
- Liquids – so I’m sure most people know this, but all the liquids you bring onto the plane in your hand-luggage must fit in a 1 litre capacity clear plastic bag and each container can’t be more than 100ml. I have a re-usable bag from Muji; I know people have had issues going through security with re-useable bags not being the correct size but I’ve never had an problem. If you travel a lot, I would definitely recommend buying one!
And that’s it! I think people can let packing over-whelm them, but it doesn’t have to be so stressful. Planning is so important, start thinking about things at least a week before you go and make a list. You don’t have to pack in advance, but if you have a list that you can refer to, and even add things as you remember them, that is honestly invaluable. It’ll really take the stress out of it. To use the space efficiently, use bags or packing cubes to organise things. This is also so helpful when you get where you’re going or need to find something in a hurry. Those really are the secrets to packing well. I hoped this helped if you have a trip coming up or if you just love packing as much as I do.
Love Jane x
P.S. Click here to see my non-packing related pre-travel tips!