We have compiled a great deal of packing tips after years of travelling and together with some members suggestions, we thought we should share them with other travellers setting out.
1. Security and Keeping Details Safe
Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets (if not the e type) in. Store this (in an email for e.g.) in your web based email account. You can also store the details of your emergency ‘lost card’ telephone numbers in your web based email account so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen. This way, even if you lose everything, you have immediate access your all important information. You can even email the details page of your passport to the embassy or consulate when applying for a new one. (Tip from a member)
Also consider writing your home and destination address (and mobile number if you have one) on a self-adhesive sticky label to stick INSIDE your luggage in a visible place. If your luggage is lost and the baggage label has come off, at least the airline can still figure out whose luggage it is. (Tip from a member)
2. Split up your valuables
Split up your bank cards, cash, travellers’ cheques and credit cards as much as possible in different pockets, your bags and wallet when packing. In case you do get robbed, at least you won’t be strapped for cash (unless you have all your bags AND your wallet stolen of course!).
3. Nalgene/Small Bottles
Use nalgene/small bottles to pack toiletries and other small items. There are several sturdy and (very nearly) waterproof ones, with clear/see through ones being preferable (easier for security purposes post August 2006). You can also use small bottles to repack shampoo or lotions so that you don’t have to always carry a big bottle with you. This is especially useful if you normally take these items in your carry-on luggage, which as of early 2007 is much more restricted than before.
4. Backpack Tips
When you are packing things into a backpack, place the lighter items at the bottom and the heavier ones on top. Your bag will feel lighter this way as the pack rests on your lower back. It is also smart to place the things you use the most on top. Dirty clothes are perfect to pack at the bottom of a backpack. If you are still trying to decide on the right backpack, have a look at Choosing the right Backpack on our Travel Unravelled blog.
5. Plastic Bags
It is always handy to have a few plastic bags around certain items, especially toiletries. Not only does it counter any leaking, the bags can also come in useful to keep dirty clothes in, as garbage bags or even as a makeshift umbrella. Ziplock or other airtight plastic bags are the best.
6. Pack in Plastic
Pack everything in clear plastic bags (preferably zip lock), divided into items e.g. underwear, t-shirts, shorts etc. before packing in your suitcase or backpack. One plastic bag for each type of clothing. This is extremely useful in various ways. When you unpack your bag you just take out a series of bags and you can see immediately what you want. So an overnight stay somewhere just means taking 1 item out of a bag – no rummaging!! In addition, if you have to unpack at customs etc, instead of having to disgorge all your clothing etc out in front of everybody, you can calmly take maybe 5/6 bags out, the contents of which can be clearly seen by the officials. To repack then is also dead easy. Just be sure not to leave your plastic bags lying around if you are travelling in nature! (Tip from a member)
Pack only what you know you will use and if you are travelling for more than three weeks, plan to wash on the road. You can cut back on the number of clothes items by packing multi-purpose clothing, for example items that can both be worn during the day and as sleepwear.
8. Split up clothes when travelling with others
When you are flying somewhere and especially if you have a few stopovers, divide the clothes between different suitcases/backpacks/bags etc. If one persons luggage doesn’t arrive at the destination, they’ll still have clean clothes available. Airlines generally don’t compensate lost luggage for the first 24-48 hours so this will save you money if it happens to you. (Tip from a member)
9. Separate Beach Bag
When packing to head to the beach consider pre-packing whatever you might need at the beach into a beachbag inside your backpack or suitcase. Especially if travelling with kids, this will prove a timesaver!
10. Suitcase lovers
For those using suitcases without a divider. A piece of cardboard makes an excellent divider and helps keep your clothes organized and neat as you are able to lay them out flat on the cardboard. It also makes airport inspections a lot less of a hassle as you can lift out your divider with clothes on top easily.
While it is a good idea to take some small gifts with you while travelling, pre-wrapping them can be a waste of time if you are flying and your bags are opened. (Tip from a member)
12. Flashlights or Torches
When packing a flashlight or torch (or any other item with batteries for that matter), turn the batteries around so that if the item is accidentally turned on, you won’t empty the batteries. Don’t forget to turn the batteries back around when using the flashlight.
13. Diaper Bag
If you are travelling with babies, then the diaper bag is an excellent place to hide your valuables. This most likely will not be the first thing to be stolen. It’s also a great to use as a waste bag (even when not travelling with a child!), especially at places that do not allow you to flush toilet paper. (Tip from a member)
If you want to make sure everything else in your bags stays clean and odor free, place the shoes inside old socks and then inside airtight plastic bags (ziplock).
Keep any medication and important papers in your carry-on bag. On long flights with multiple stopovers (especially if flying via London, LA or other major airports), packing a fresh change of clothes is a good idea as bags tend to get delayed or lost on long haul, multiple stop flights. You don’t want to end up stuck without medication, clothes or your important papers even if it is just for a few days.
16. Roll Technique
Somehow it seems that bags will hold more if the clothes are rolled rather than folded. If you roll in tissue paper, the clothes will also get less wrinkled.
17. Travelling to warm destinations?
If you appreciate cold drinks think of using a six-pack cooler as a toiletry bag. Once you arrive at your destination and unload your toiletries your ‘toiletry bag’ guarantees cheap cold drinks on the beach, no matter how remote.
18. Local Tourism Offices
The best source of information is usually local. Check out Tourism Offices to find unbiased feedback on the best accommodation to suit your needs. Excercise caution in countries where you feel the information might not be so unbiased!
19. Minimize on toiletries
Take only half a tube of toothpaste rolled up tight, store shampoo in small containers, only take half a roll of toilet paper (for emergencies only) and crush it so the middle is folded.
20. Take solid shampoo bars and tooth powder
Solid shampoo bars and tooth powder (instead of tooth paste) can be easily located on the internet and make carry-on travel in this age of liquid restriction possible. Places like Beijing now bar all liquids in carry-on bags, and you’ll still be able to breeze through without checking.