Packing hacks: how to make the most of your suitcase space
Forget the roll-vs-fold debate, these are the packing hacks you need to know
Leaking shampoo bottles, smashed souvenirs and bursting suitcase zips are just some of the pitfalls which lie in wait for tourists who take a haphazard approach to the art of packing. We’ve come to the rescue with some top tips to help you on your way to packing perfection.
1. Choose your case carefully
Hard shell cases offer more protection but softer bags can be easily stowed into smaller spaces when not in use. If you're prone to packing-related OCD, consider a double-sided case (known as a clam shell) with multiple compartments.
2. Travel light(er)
Unless you're a packing pro, you're unlikely to use all the items in your suitcase. If you're prone to over-packing, the best approach is to tackle this common affliction head on: lay out what you think you’ll need, then halve it. It sounds brutal, but it works.
And don’t pack extra just because you’re going away for more than a week. As a general rule, only pack what you need for seven days. Unless you're planning a six-month trek deep into the Amazon jungle, you're unlikely to be far from a shop or a washing machine.
And if you really are heading off-grid, the local wildlife is unlikely to care if you wear the same pair of pants twice. Or even inside-out, come to think of it.
3. Leave out the liquids
Is that super-sized bottle of your favourite conditioner really essential? Is a dermatological disaster really on the cards just because you forgot little Johnny's organic baby shampoo? Reduce your liquid load by opting solid alternatives, such as shampoo bars and cleansing balms. Your suitcase will be lighter, and you'll avoid spillages, too.
4. Bag it up
We’ll admit that it can be tricky to go entirely liquid-free, but spill-proofing your luggage is simple. Our favourite tip comes from travel blogger Nadia El Ferdaoussi: "I prevent leaks by placing cling film under the lids of bottles before packing."
Opt for an additional safeguard by placing toiletry bags in carrier bags, and where possible, squeeze excess air from containers – this will make them less likely to burst and you'll have more room, too.
5. Layer and fold
Crumpled clothing is an unavoidable holiday hazard but there's a difference between a few neat creases and a suit or sun dress that looks like it has been screwed up in a bag for a year.
"When it comes to delicate clothes, I layer items together before folding," says Nadia El Ferdaoussi. "For example, I'll fold three dresses together then tuck in any sleeves and collars, then ideally only fold once.
“And I always stuff smaller items into my sun hat then lie the hat brim-down before packing clothes around it to help keep the shape."
6. Use pockets
We've all been there: you've arrived at the gate only to find your passport's gone walkabout and your boarding pass has migrated to the bottom of your backpack. Rather than simply cramming your in-flight essentials into your carry-on, think about what you'll need when.
Invest in a travel wallet for important travel documents and use a carry-on bag with multiple pockets.
7. Use clothing as padding
"I use my laundry to create a nest of protection," reveals Trevor Pickett, founder, designer and owner of luxury luggage brand Pickett. Instead of stashing dirty clothes in a laundry bag, use them as padding – it doesn’t matter as much if liquid leaks onto them and those sweaty socks are the perfect size to wedge into small spaces.
Your beach towel can sit on top for a final layer of extra protection.
8. Invest in some packing accessories
While we recommend a cautious approach when it comes to packing accessories (do you really need that hi-tech and very chunky wireless luggage tracker?), the right ones can transform the way you travel.
Our favourites include plastic vacuum pack clothing bags, which allow you to protect your clothes from spillages while creating extra space, and packing cubes. These soft, mesh pouches come in various sizes and are great ways to organise your suitcase and make unpacking and repacking much simpler.
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