Travelling Light: How to Pack a Holiday Suitcase in the Best Way Possible

Whether you’re heading overseas, embarking on a mini staycation or simply setting off to make the most of the bank holiday weekend, knowing what to take with you and how to pack for the occasion always seems to pose a bit of a challenge. But fear not – we’re here to help you streamline the packing process by focusing on the essentials and ditching the unimportant items! Follow our simple tips to travelling light and you’ll never have to question or stress over how to pack a suitcase (or travel bag) for your adventures again.

Let's get down to business: choosing what you need for your trip

Packing principle number 1? Figure out what you really need to take with you. Casting an eye at the weather forecast for wherever you’re headed is a must. It’ll help you quickly deduce what’s an essential and will mean that you’re well prepared for whatever microclimate you encounter. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination, without an umbrella or water-repellent windbreaker, to find that, instead of the sunshine you were anticipating, it’s set to rain all week. Likewise, packing your case full of jumpers and then finding yourself in a super mild destination isn’t all that fun either… Trust us, look at the weather in advance and shatter any misconceptions from the get-go.
Another top tip for packing your suitcase is to consider what the place you’re headed to is like and to plan outfits for the activities you’ll do there. City break? A decent pair of comfortable shoes for exploring the city on foot and a smarter shirt for evenings is a must. Trip to the Highlands? You’ll definitely need walking shoes and fleece mid-layers for exploring the great outdoors. Seaside? Swimwear is an obvious choice, but don’t forget your sun cap and sunglasses too! A little bit of forethought will stop you from forgetting the vital items and ensure that you have a regret-free holiday!

Pack the basics and avoid having to carry a great big case!

Equipped with the insight of what pieces are important in relation to weather, destination and the type of trip you’ll be taking, you can easily start to gather together your getaway basics. Don’t forget underwear, socks, a pair of seasonal-appropriate pyjamas and sunglasses fall into this category too – the kind of items that are so ‘everyday’ you actually forget them! Stepping away from clothing for a minute, you won’t want to leave your toiletries, phone charger or a spare bag to put any dirty laundry in behind either. Adapters, passports and a second bag – think holster bags or backpacks – that you can take with you wherever you go may also be add-ons well worth considering.
Although you’ve now narrowed some of your key items down, the trick is also to limit what clothes you take – this is especially important if you're adhering to airline-imposed weight limits. One top tip is to opt for neutral coloured clothing that is versatile, matches with the majority of your other items, and that you can layer if necessary. Generally speaking, a pair of jeans and/or plain trousers, cropped pants or shorts that partner with everything and that you can easily dress up or down is key. A couple of tops or t-shirts that can be worn alone or that can serve as an extra layer if it’s a little chilly are equally important. Add something a little smarter to your selection – like a shirt or suave jacket – and also add one item that you can layer up with on cooler days or nights if need be, like a thin jumper, fleece or even a gilet. An extra pair of shoes is always a sensible addition to your suitcase and of course – weather dependent – some form of outer layer might be handy.

How to logically and systematically pack your suitcase or travel bags

Using the guidelines above, put all the items you have decided upon in a pile first. This guarantees that you can properly assess what you're taking with you (as soon as you put things in your case you no longer know what’s in there!). If organisation is not your strong point, why not write a list and tick off items as you add them to your case? That way nothing gets missed!

How to pack shoes and bulkier items and where to place underwear

Add the heavier, larger items (nothing fragile) to your case first – this is a great way to gauge the available room in your bag or suitcase from the outset, and also means you can fearlessly squish down your contents if necessary as you progress! It’s wise to wrap your shoes in a bag to keep any surrounding items clean, and to place your underwear inside them to maximise storage space (you can dig any remaining underwear into all the little gaps and crevices at the end, once everything else is packed). While it can be good, along with other bulky items, to place shoes in your case at the beginning of the packing process, to avoid them getting squished and misshapen we actually recommend placing them in the inside zip pocket of your case (if it has one!) rather than in the central compartment. Of course, if your bag doesn't boast a separate component, disperse your shoes around the structured edges of your case as this will still offer them an element of protection and will help you gain space too!

Roll or fold – which is the better technique for packing your more compact clothes?

On top of the weightier contents, place your thinner, more lightweight clothing and smaller items. This is a good way to help avoid more delicate items getting overly wrinkled too. If you're keen to avoid creases altogether, you can try the Marie Kondo inspired packing technique – roll your items instead of folding them! Dependent on what the item is, this approach can also be an effective way to reduce storage space and can help make the contents of your case more immediately visible too! You won't have to rummage around under multiple layers to find that classic plain white t-shirt or vest! Even if you find the rolling technique isn't as space saving as you need, there is nothing to stop you emptying out your case when you arrive at your destination and rearranging and rolling up your clothes once there. While it may sound a tad drastic, if your accommodation lacks hanging space then this is the perfect answer to keeping your case tidy and your clothes still freshly ironed all the way up to your last day away! Of course, it all comes down to your personal preference and how you handle living out of a case!

Final snippets of packing advice for stress-free travel

When it comes to fragile items, another pro tip is to place them between different layers of clothing to keep them better protected. You can always actively wrap them up in thicker items of clothing too for extra padding, or you can alternatively just place them in your hand luggage along with all your valuables, from your wallet to your car keys. For anything that you'd like to keep close – such as earphones, travel documents or an extra layer for the journey – make use of any external pockets that your case or travel bag may possess! 

Finally, where possible, wear your bigger, more expansive items on the day of travel, such as jackets, and more heavy-weight shoes. Again, you could be clever and opt for clothing that has multiple internal or external pockets (cargo trousers are great for this!) to grant yourself that little bit of extra packing space.

And there you have it. Let these tips and tricks take the pressure out of packing and ease you straight into that holiday feeling!

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