We've all been there - you're confident and proud of your packing skills to only realise that your suitcase won't shut. I've been there. With me having to sit on friends and families suitcases to make sure they close shut with the silent prayers that their suitcase doesn't bust open and the contents fly everywhere. We've also all been there when we've brought too much, we all have the sweats going up to the counter to have our bags dropped off and praying that the attendant won't announce my bags are overweight. Luckily for me she's talking about the bags and not me. With these packing tips you'll wonder why you never thought of these before and will have no more worries about items fitting in your suitcase or it being overweight.
Making a Packing List
As simple as it seems making a list can be one of the most helpful tips when packing for a holiday. Write down everything you may need from clothes to medications and toiletries. I would firstly write down how many days you're travelling for as well as the climate of that certain region or country. From there you can decide what clothes would be appropriate to take with you. From there you can work out how many toiletries you'll need - I'm sure you don't need a whole bottle of shampoo and conditioner for a three day vacation. That's why shops sell travel bottles - they're reusable and can save a lot of weight when travelling with hand luggage or checked luggage. You can also take this list away with you so when you're packing your suitcase to return home, you can make sure you have all items you came with. I've left so many iPhone chargers in hotel rooms since I simply overlook it when packing to return home - it also prevents me from charging my phone on the way back home. Try making 40% last for a four hour journey when you've download a film and two episodes of Ru Paul's Drag Race to watch while on the flight.
Know Your Limits!
It would be advisable to check with your airline how much luggage you're allowed and it's weight, whether it's hand luggage only or whether you're allowed to put a checked piece of luggage under the plane. For example, some flights with EasyJet only allow a customer to bring just a suitcase or weekend bag within specific measurements as well as a small purse or bag. There is no weight limit but you need to make sure that you can lift the bag above your head when putting it in the overhead lockers. However, with airlines such as British Airways hand luggage is limited to 23kg on long haul flights as well as 23kg for checked luggage. Limits and sizes change with airline, it would be better to check and buy a scale to weigh your bags rather to pay extra to have your bag accepted onto the plane. Something no one wants to fork out for since these prices can start from £30 for one piece of luggage being overweight.
Wear Your Heaviest Clothes
If you're travelling to somewhere cold, for me this was Iceland, wear everything that would take up the most space in your suitcase. When I travelled to Iceland I wore a vest top, a hoodie, a thick jacket as well as snow boots since these items would've taken up all the space in my suitcase alone. Even putting my gloves in my pocket saved extra space in my suitcase as they were quite thick. But don't go too overboard like one passenger did where they bought a jacket that held all of their items to prevent them from going over the weight limit and save space in their suitcase. Just use common sense, whatever seems the heaviest and takes up the most space - consider if wearing it would be an advantage.
Leave Extra Space in Your Suitcase
We've all done it, packed everything perfectly back into our suitcase when returning from holiday to then look and see loads of small gifts and presents still needing to be packed. When travelling leave some room for souvenirs or gifts, you'll accumulate more than you think! The tip above applies once again - even if you wear a jumper on the way home and from that have space for items you've bought. If you've bought smaller items such as snow globes or magnets, put them in the pockets of your hoodies in your suitcase or put them inside a t-shirt that can be rolled. This barely takes up any space and allows your valuables to be safely protected when you return home.
Carry a Bag of Essentials With You
If you're allowed to keep your hand luggage with you throughout your journey - which can be small suitcase or a weekend bag - put your essentials in it and an outfit if your checked luggage is lost or misplaced. For example, I'd keep a bra, change of underwear, leggings, a t-shirt, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste as well as a hairbrush in my hand luggage so I'd be able to live out of my hand luggage until my checked luggage turns up. This happened to a family member of mine when we travelled to Iceland - she had her child with her and the suitcase with all the clothes and nappies went missing as well as the pram breaking upon touchdown. An absolute nightmare when you're abroad with a young child without nappies, clothes and other essentials especially when you haven't packed an extra bag.
Roll Your Clothes!
This idea is simply brilliant - instead of folding your clothes, roll them. This is a game changer in the sense that you won't believe how many clothes you'll be able to fit in and you'd be able to see what clothes you're bringing with you from a quick glance. Rolling your clothes will also reduce the chances of them creasing - another handy tip would be to use vacuum bags if you really want to save even more space and reduce the likelihood of creasing even more. Even though you obviously can't fold shoes, you can put socks in your shoes to keep their shape as well as save more space in your suitcase. If you have a pair of sandals or flip flops then simply place them either side of your clothes along the edges of your suitcase - you won't even know that they're there!
Try a Test Run
If your airline requires you to place your hand luggage in the overhead lockers then make sure you can actually lift your suitcase above your head. In some videos I've seen airlines asking passengers to make sure they can lift their own bag before boarding the plane - something you don't want to do when you're just about to board your flight and go on holiday. If you can't lift your luggage over your head then go back and review what's weighing down your suitcase. If you find a heavy item that's causing the problem then go ahead and see if it's worth wearing it on the way out there. The same tip applies for when you'll be dragging your suitcase around the airport as well as on the way to your accommodation. If you find it difficult to do this then it may be worth investing in a suitcase with four wheels to spread the weight of your luggage as well as making it easier to transport.
If you're travelling with a hidden disability or condition, travelling may require extra support for some. The sunflower lanyard is a symbol to which allows members of staff, either working at airports or at train stations, to recognise that they may need additional assistance during their journey. By wearing a sunflower lanyard an individual is allowed to go throughout their journey independently but has the option of knowing that members of staff are on hand throughout your journey to support them. In a sense passengers can notify staff discretly that they may have anxiety, ADHD, dementia or a visual impariement as well as any other conditions. This allows privacy for the person wearing the sunflower lanyard as they do not need to state or disclose their condition but the sunflower lanyard represents this. Members of staff are notified that people wearing a sunflower lanyard may need assistance and have been trained to recognise that a passenger may need additional help throughout the different parts of their journey.
The best part about the sunflower lanyard is that it's completely free and reusable, they can be used on other journeys throughout airports or train stations and even in supermarkets such as Sainsbury's. Wherever you go the sunflower has become a symbol for hidden disabilities, something that is important for passengers with hidden disabilties since they can range from being a physical condition to a mental condition that could cause distress or make a journey stressful. As I suffer from anxiety this lanyard brings me extra comfort and security knowing that if needed help members of staff would be there to assist me throughout my journey. I've had panic attacks in the airport before as well as feeling extremely anxious, with no members of staff being able to help me, but now since I have a sunflower lanyard this represents that I may need additional help throughout my journey. This simply could be redirecting me to a shorter queue through security or assistance while boarding the plane. My only problem with this sunflower lanyard is that one size does not fit all - different people may need different forms of help and assistance throughout their visit, it depends on what disability the passenger has. Additionally, in the past I have had panic attacks on flights where I've cried for two hours straight, my body was shaking and even passengers intervened to see if I was okay - no members of staff on the plane intervened at all even though they could see I was physically distressed. I wasn't wearing a sunflower lanyard at the time but I still expected some form of assistance as it made the journey a horrible experience for both me and other passengers on the plane.
How to Get a Sunflower Lanyard
There are a range of ways to get a sunflower lanyard or another object to represent hidden disabilities, you can either pick them up at the airport or have them delivered to your home address before you fly. The airports and train companies offering this lanyard currently are:
More information can be found here:
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.