Top Packing Tips

Most people look forward to going away for their holidays, but are saddened at the thought of all the packing. I have compiled a list of things you might want to check before you leave for your holiday.

First Step - Buying the right suitcase:

- Almost 70% of suitcases on airport carousels will be black. If you have a coloured suitcase, or even a piece of coloured ribbon attached to your suitcase, it will be easy to spot it.

- The decision between hard and soft cases is never an easy one, although a lot of people have their preferences. A hard case will automatically add more weight, but it does offer more protection from rain, general damage and even thieves, although soft sided cases are more forgiving when you have to fit in extra items. There are new ultra light suitcases out, so check them out before you make a purchase.

- Four wheels or two? Generally four wheels are better for larger suitcases. Remember that sometimes it is not possible to roll your suitcase so you must be able to carry it.

- Get the right size, don’t buy a case that is too big to fit in most places, like the boot of a taxi. But not too small, that you struggle to fit everything inside, and end up forcing it closed which will shorten the life of your suitcase. You can always buy expandable bags, just in case you have to carry back more than you expected, without having to buy a new suitcase.

- The life span of a suitcase is about 10 years, and most reputable ones come with a guarantee for parts failure, in case your zip or wheels break.

- Like with most things, the more you spend on the suitcase, the better the quality will be. Designer bags may look good, but they are more likely to attract the attention of a thief. Bear in mind that regardless how good your bag looks or if its good quality, it is still as likely to get as lost as any other transit bag.

Second Step - Knowing the rules:

- Once you have booked your flight, find out how many bags you are allowed to check in. Most allow you to check in one bag per person.

- Some airlines allow you to have one piece of hand luggage, whereas others will allow two, so check before you travel.

- Airlines such as Easyjet will charge you for any checked in luggage, so ensure you book this online to save yourself some money.

- Any liquids (gels, creams etc) in hand luggage must be 100 ml or less, including drinks. Anything more and you will have to leave it at the airport. So when you start packing, keep all your liquids to one side, and check them before you pack them. This rule only applies to hand luggage. Once you clear security, you can buy anything larger than 100 ml if you need to.

- Always check the luggage allowance the airline allows, in most cases it will be 23kg. If your bag weighs more, the airline will charge you for it.

- Always take the lightest suitcase you have, that way you can pack more weight into it.

Third Step - Packing

- Whether you fold, bundle or roll your clothes into your suitcase, if you want them as crease free as possible, do not over pack your suitcase. But do not under pack it either, or else all your things will move around.

- I always tend to have a dedicated toiletry bag for my holidays, so I don’t have to put it together every time I go abroad. Saves time every time. 

- Always put your shoes and other heavy items above your suitcase wheels. So when you roll your case around, you can be sure that you shoes aren’t crushing your clothes.

- If you are taking gifts with you, and they are wrapped, try and keep them in your hand luggage, If your suitcase is opened then it may cause problems.

- If you need to take out creases out of clothes when you get to your hotel, just hang them in a steamy bathroom. Once its slightly damp, shake it a bit and then pull it into shape. Or you could just buy a travel iron, which you can pick up for a tenner in some appliance shops.

Fourth Step - Keeping it safe

- Don’t pack anything into your luggage that you would hate to lose.

- If there are two or more of you travelling, then split your belongings, just in case one of your bags does go missing. That way you both have a spare pair of clothes.

- Always use two luggage labels, as one is always likely to get lost. Keep one inside with all your flight details just in case your bag does get lost.

- Check in on time, to ensure that your bag makes it on the flight too, late check in could prevent your bag from following you to your destination.

- Lock all of your checked in baggage, not having it locked could invalidate your travel insurance.

- When travelling to America, use TSA approved locks, as they will need to be able to check your baggage without your key. Any other locks are not permitted on checked in luggage.

Finally always keep the most important items in your hand luggage, for example your travel documents, medication and keys should always be handy. But most importantly do not forget to pack your camera… else will you capture those perfect holiday memories?