Four common packing pitfalls to avoid – from someone who knows!

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Packing is a skill that is worthy of appearing on one’s resume. This is particularly true given the trend towards only taking carry-on luggage, as anyone who has ever tried and tried to fit all their items into a suitcase at the 11th hour, is all too aware. Similar to a bad game of Tetris, here are four common mistakes to be aware of and avoid next time you approach your suitcase.

If the shoe fits
Most of us take far too many pairs of shoes, which are easily the bulkiest and heaviest items when it comes to packing. As a general rule of thumb you need no more than three pairs of shoes as a maximum – two if you can get away with it. These should include a pair of good walking shoes (sneakers or runners) and, dependent on the weather, a pair of smart sandals or boots for women – boat shoes or similar for men. These should be worn when travelling so they don’t get squashed in your suitcase and also as they are most likely the heaviest / will take up the most space. If you’re going somewhere hot, a pair of thongs completes the trifecta.

woman standing on her suitcase

Know your limits
Recently, I went to Sweden and Spain. At the departure gate to our SAS flight to Stockholm, our bags were weighed and mine was sent to the hold (thankfully, free of charge) for being over 7kg. On boarding for Madrid with Easyjet, my friend had to condense her entire backpack into her carry on suitcase as, while they aren’t concerned over weight, they are very strict about only having one carry on bag unless you have purchased a seat that allows for an additional handbag. While we were lucky enough to escape extra charges in both these instances , they are good reminders that every airline has different baggage rules. Make sure you check the restrictions before purchasing your ticket and again before you start packing. Better to realise at home rather than when you’re at the airport.

Weather watch
On the same above trip to Sweden, I had been complacent and assumed I knew what the weather was going to be – cool, given it was April. Oh how wrong I was. Try freezing and minus six degrees! Thankfully someone had flagged this with me a few days before departure. I had time to completely reassess my packing and replace the singlets with gloves, scarves and thermal tights. I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have discovered this before it was too late. My travel companion, on the other hand, was not as prepared. Because she didn’t have gloves, we were forced to take shelter in a wine bar while out bike riding as she was positive she would permanently lose feeling in her fingers had we not. Moral of the story? Pack for the weather you’re getting not the weather you want. This will also ensure you pack less as you’re not trying to cover off on every situation.

Final countdown
Without being sexist this is more commonly done by males, however, it can strike all packers at some stage. For whatever reason you can’t bear to think about or face packing so, instead, you do the obvious and put it off. That is, until you can’t put it off anymore. The issue with packing at the last minute is not so much that you will forget things (you almost always will) but that it doesn’t allow you time to consider what you want to take – and what you actually need to and can realistically take. These are two very different things. While I am, admittedly, pretty good at packing (practice makes perfect), I do tend to still take too much – a girl’s gotta have options. One of the strategies that has helped me the most is to pack a week in advance so I have time to realise not everything is going to fit and create a ‘maybe pile’ – most of which usually ends up back in my wardrobe. This tactic has allowed me to travel without risking busting the zip on my suitcase and makes for a nice change to the days when I used to sit on my suitcase to get it shut – never a good way to start a holiday!

One final tip – space bags are an absolute saviour. While it’s not recommended to use them on your outbound journey – this will tempt you to take more than you should – having them in a pocket of your suitcase means that when you’ve accidentally overstocked on souvenirs or shopping you can whip them out and squash down all your items to make more room – practically magic!

How many of these mistakes have you made before? Do you have any other pitfalls to add to the list?

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Written by SJ



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