On packing your suitcase

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Daunting or fun? With a month and a half left until I'm zooming across the world for a little Europe stint, I thought it would be about time that I actually collate my tips on packing. In a way this helps us both - especially when all of a sudden the time ticks on and I've realised I have a week left until I'll be needing to drag myself and my suitcase into the taxi to the airport.

What to pack

Start with the essentials

Passport, tickets, vouchers and printed confirmations (including travel insurance)

  1. First things first, scan a copy of your passport. Leave one at home for your family or friends as a reference. Keep the other with you in a separate place to your passport (this might even be in your Dropbox). Noting your passport details will help in the odd instance that it goes missing, or for your loved one's peace of mind.
  2. If your travel confirmations are by way of email, go paper-light and screenshot them on your phone for quick reference. This will help if you're having difficulties connecting to the internet while ensuring they're all in the one place. 

Beauty and Skincare

  1. These items can include face wash, moisturiser, sunscreen, make up etc. Converse with your travel partners in crime (if they're travelling with you), and agree to share a couple of essentials - toothpaste, sunscreen and perhaps even shampoo. You'll save space and prevent from unnecessary duplication. There's no need for three full tubes of toothpaste, one will suffice. 
  2. Think hard about what you would like to have and what you're likely to use. There's a difference. Often too many times I have brought along an additional eye shadow palate that never saw the light from the depth of my suitcase but instead took up room and weight. You sometimes even end up purchasing more makeup if you come across Sephora. Other times you might be a bit too tired or worn out to get into the entirety of your beauty routine anyway and a fair bit of your items go unused.
  3. If in the event that you have forgotten something when you get there, e.g. toothpaste, shower cap, check with the hotel (if you're staying in one) before going to the store.

Clothes and shoes

  1. Clothing very much depends on where you're travelling to. As do the shoes you decide to pick. If you're going to a few different countries with varying climates this may take a little more thought. Consider bringing a staple coat and invest in layering options if you will encounter more warm climates than cold. Of course, pack for the climate.
  2. Don't pack something you haven't worn before. In the case of shoes, unworn shoes might be uncomfortable. 
  3. Clothes that require ironing are troublesome. If possible, avoid packing these. You'll save precious holiday time. Lightweight layers are your best friend. If you've got your clothes laid out on your bed, attempt to cull them to at least half that amount if you want to travel lighter. 
  4. You'll only ever need one dressy outfit. One pair of shoes should be dressy enough to let you past the bar/restaurant dress codes while still remaining comfortable enough for every day wear.
  5. Curate a couple of easy outfits. Coordinate tops with matching bottoms and don't be afraid to re-wear items. 
  6. I always go with three pairs of shoes. Sneakers, flats/sandles and one dressy-ish every day pair. Flats often suffice as the dressier pair.  

Technology and accessories

  1. Memory cards. Invest in a few more memory cards or cards with a lot of space. I can't stress this enough. In my opinion, it's best to have more than one memory card on the off chance that it corrupts or you've already filled up a majority of space with photographs and footage. Always back up your footage and format memory cards once they are clear so that they are ready for the next use.
  2. Don't forget universal power adapters and a power board. Nothing is more annoying than needing to charge your phone, laptop and camera battery when you only have one travel adapter and can only charge one item at a time. 
  3. External hard drives are also god sends. As are spare camera batteries. We have two GoPro batteries and so while one is used through the day, the other is on charge. Having two allows us to easily rotate them without potential footage being compromised for lack of a battery.
  4. Don't forget phone chargers and other accessories you may need. 

Ensure you make a travel checklist. Include medicines and a first aid kit with the necessities - ibuprofen, bandaids, antiseptic creams etc. Perhaps even party feet!

How to pack

Keep in mind that when standing up, items in the suitcase have a tendency to fall to the bottom if not packed securely. When opening your suitcase it's also best to place items that you will use regularly toward the top, on the occasion that you need to retrieve items quickly. For all sentimental items or items of value, place them in your carry on - it would be unfortunate if your suitcase was lost in transit and any items that aren't easily replaceable be there.

  1. Create the base layer. Pack in large and heavy items like shoes and coats. Heavier shoes should sit on the side of the wheel. This helps to distribute weight evenly across the bag. Adding a few bundles of socks into your shoes will also help to save space while ensuring they stay in shape. These larger and heavier items act as a protective barrier at the shell of the suitcase. If you're still weary of potential damage, add a thin line of clothes at the bottom of the suitcase to act as padding. Don't forget to put your shoes in bags, to prevent the soles from getting your clothes dirty.
  2. Add your padded layer. Choose to fold, roll or bundle your clothes - depending on how they fit with your base layer. Usually I can get away with rolling skirts and the odd cotton top but often resort to folding shirts and pants. Folding two shirts opposite sides together will prevent from heavy creases. 
  3. Centre layer. Your centre layer is also where you can put in a couple of the items that need protection, e.g. cosmetics and beauty creams (place these in a bag too just in case of any spills), hair straightener and camera cables, which will be protected by the padded and top layers.
  4. Top layer. Usually this is a combination of other clothes that also further act as padding and the ones that I want least creased (especially when you have slightly convex suitcases, there's more air and room). It's also where I place the items that need to be most accessible (in the case that I don't want to unpack the rest of the contents immediately when settling into my accommodation - it's something I tend to do at the end of the day, after showering but before bed) and can be easily hung up as soon as I get my hands on some coat hangers.    

Other tips:

  1. For the ladies, bras are a necessity. Mostly. Stack them atop each other and fold them in half. Placing underwear or socks inside this fold will prevent the cups from losing shape. 
  2. If you have any odd creases or gaps in your suitcase layers, these are neat places to add your folded underwear. 
  3. Purchase a couple of compression bags (I get all of mine from Daiso, a ridiculously cheap Japanese shop with the best and most practical goods on sale, whenever I'm in Asia. There's also a Daiso in Melbourne and Sydney, or you can opt to order some from eBay.) that don't need vacuums. These will help compress bulkier clothes or create a little more room in your bag if needed. Beware, they are a bit rigid after the air has been pushed out of them. These particularly become very handy at the end of the trip when you've found you may have gone a little overboard in shopping.

Enjoy your packing fun!

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