Life is full of cheeky little challenges that make us fist bump when we show ‘em who's boss. Rolling your own sushi is definitely one. Speed-wrapping Christmas presents is another. So is flower arranging and solving a Rubik’s cube. They’re all art forms that probably don’t get the recognition they definitely deserve - and packing a suitcase is no different.
Nail it and you’ll find yourself leaping onto your bed, popping on “In Da Club” and doing an elaborate victory dance full of involuntary moves. But rush it, or pack poorly, and you might find your cheeks turning a deeper shade of pink because there aren’t many things more socially awkward than mucking up the entire plane-boarding process as three flight attendant’s try and help you squeeeeeze an obviously overstuffed bag into the overhead compartment.
That’s why we’ve done something pretty great: we’ve come up with the definitive guide for packing light.
Forget what your classmates said in junior high when the teacher asked what they wanted to be when they “grow up” because being a light-packer is the one thing everyone aspires to be when they’re old enough to hop on a plane all by themselves. Firemen, train drivers, astronauts, Polly Pockets, Dinosaurs - they all dream of being light-packers.
With that in mind, it doesn’t matter whether you're packing for a two-night city escape or a two-week buddymoon break, we’ve got 10 tips to help you find the Holy grail of stress-free packing - woo woo.
Rule No.1: Everyone Fills Their Suitcase
It’s true. Us humans will keep adding bits and expanding their bobs to fill the available space. It’s the first law of travel-physics and it’s a problem we all share, but it makes the solution super-duper-simple: just grab a bag that will fit in the overhead with minimal cramming and then hold back on all the usual suitcase-sitting move. There will be some tough decisions fo sho, and you’ll probs worry about the pile of clothes left behind on your bedroom floor but, trust us, you’ll be glad you were so sartorially-ruthless when you start your long airport walk.
Rule No.2: Always Make A Packing List
How many times have you been grocery shopping on an empty tummy, without a shopping list, and come home with a gazillion things you’ve never eaten before? That’s what a list prevents. Oh, and the peace of mind you get is awesome. Instead of getting to your plane-seat and then running through everything you might have forgotten (á la Home Alone) only to realise you’ve forgotten your stain-free sunscreen and electric toothbrush, you’ll get to do a Tim Henman fist clench and relax. We’d also recommend breaking your list down into essentials (passports, visas, tickets, chargers etc), toiletries, clothes, and then season-specific tidbits to ensure you’re ready for the summer sun or winter chills (delete accordingly).
Rule No.3: The Denser, The Better
Call us swots, but we loved science at school, especially that lesson on black holes, which are so tightly compacted even light can’t escape their gravitational pull - and your approach to bag packing should follow the same principles. To help you out: wadding is way better than scrunching and stuffing, and folding is way better than wadding. But the most black-hole-ish-approach is the fold n’ roll technique. That’s the densest packing move of them all, which is cool because doing the fold n’ roll will allow you to fit all your clothes within ⅓ of your bag, which is the traveller’s dream. You’ll also find rolling allows you to fill all those inevitable one-inch gaps of dead space.
Rule No.4: The Rest Of The World Is No Barbaric
National Geographic did some research and, well, it turns out almost every culture has worked out how to wash their clothes (and some even have washing machines). Who would have thunk it, right? Resort laundrettes, hotel dry-cleaning services, pop into the local cleaners, or ask the sweet old lady that lives a couple of streets over whether she’d help you out for a few hundred metical - they’ll all help you pack oh-so-light. And if you’re really struggling, you can always put your sink to good use. The point is, a clean blouse and jeans are never out of the question.
Rule No.5: Three Is The Magic Number
Yup. Three. Three pairs of socks. Three pairs of underwear. Three shirts. Three tees. Three dresses. Adhering to The Rule Of Three allows you to wear one while you’re washing another and drying the other. It’s amazing. And leg-slash-outerwear is even more amazing because you can get even more mileage out of them, meaning you can get away with two jackets, two pairs of weather-friendly shorts or skirts, and two pairs of trousers (or pants if you’re one of our amazing American customers). For such an overlooked move, it’s a total travel-changer.
Rule No.6: Don’t Play The What If Game
The what if game is great when you’re in the shower, or playing Devil’s advocate in a conversation with your old uni mates, but not when it comes to packing your bag. As much as you might be a little bit anxious about heading to some far-flung, unknown place and surrounding yourself with creature comforts, asking yourself, “what if this happens” or “what if they haven’t got these over there yet?” is gonna make your bag bulge in all the wrong places. It’s a much better idea to puff up your chest, be brave and repeat the words, “I don't need that… or that... and definitely not that.” That’s because, chances are, you don’t need the kitchen sink and, if you do, you can probably buy or borrow one out there.
Rule No.7: Multi-Functional Items Are Sooo Worth It
The more functions an item offers, the more valuable it becomes when travelling. Take the frisbee. It’s got roughly a billion uses. It gives your bag a bit of hard-shell protection, it’s the ultimate international friend-maker, and it can be used as a dry place to sit, a chopping board and a fan. Another tip-top example is a bungee cord. They can be used to strap things to the outside of your bag, pull your overstuffed bag in tight, hang up clothes to dry in your room, and even get a game of jump rump going. The same goes for our quick-drying beach towels. They’re like the original beach towel, except they dry faster, which means they’re better. And in case you’re thinking, “that doesn’t make them multi-functional,” they can also be used as a blanket, a changing room, a bindle, and a sunshade. They’re genius things. As are our ponchos. They’re like going-out outfits that dry you.
Rule No.8: Take An iPad (Other Tablets Are Available)
When a novice traveler sees a tablet, all they see is an unnecessary breakable and an added weight. But what a savvy-packer sees is a ticket-holder, itinerary-protector, library, magazine-shelf, a laptop, camera, games room, notepad, record store, map and travel guide. Basically, the iPad has transformed the world of in-luggage entertainment and organisation, and the new ones are somehow slimmer than an elf’s fingernail (roughly).
Rule No.9: Keep Your Threads Fresh
The first time you pack a small sack of potpourri, some fabric conditioner sheets or a couple of scented drawer liners, you always question your sanity levels. But they’re so great for keeping your clothes smelling fresh, especially when you’re trekking across the globe. As are those single-use plastics you sometimes tut at. Packing your fancier clothes or luxury fabrics (like your caaashmere) in plastic bags is a great way to keep ’em fresh, while you should deffo keep hold of those hotel-bathroom disposable shower caps and use them to cover the soles of your shoes so they don’t stain your others outfit bits.
Rule No.10: Mic Drop Your Toiletries
We love a toiletry as much as the next human, but they’re still absolute space stealers, and unnecessary ones at that. Think about it for a smidgen of a second. If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll mos def be greeted by a bunch of pocket-sized shower gels and smellies in your en-suite, and if you’ve got an Airbnb, you only need to call ahead and ask what they supply on ye olde toiletry front, meaning most dudes can get away with leaving it all behind and just packing a travel-friendly deodorant and toothpaste. Of course, most girls will find it slightly more tricky simply ‘cos there are some lotions and potions they can’t leave behind. But you can still get a little creative. Opt for 2-in-1 products, stock up on those free magazine sachets of perfume, pack a couple of our hair wraps for those niggly hair days, and pop those round-thin-cotton-wool-pad-thingys inside the lids of your pressed powder makeups to stop them cracking while on the move. We know, right - unbelievable tekkers.
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.