Packing is often one of the trickier parts of going on holiday. After all, it calls for a level of self-restraint that somewhat goes against the grain of the holiday spirit, not to mention calling on all your organisational skills.

However, like most things, the trick is to be armed with the right knowledge. Once you are au fait with the fundamentals of good packing and familiarise yourself with a few of the smartest tips, you’ll find packing a whole lot easier. In fact, you might even enjoy it!

Here is our guide to all the packing tips and tricks you’ll ever need.


Good packing begins with good luggage

Good luggage will serve you well for years. Not only will it generally offer you more space, but it will be hardwearing and more pleasant to lug around airports and on and off transfers. A decent set of wheels will help make sure that even if your bag is rather stuffed and you’re running late and need to move quickly, your luggage won’t weigh you down too much. And for those who tend to consistently find themselves struggling to zip their suitcase up, soft-sided options offer a lot more flexibility to squeeze those last few items in.

A quick note to all those planning to travel with carry-on luggage only. First of all, don’t be too ambitious – this really only works for weekend breaks. Secondly, ensure you have the right size bag; this sounds obvious, but hand luggage allowances change from one airline to the next, so it really is essential you check what’s permitted each and every time you travel, and plan accordingly.

Do your research

Of course, by far the most common mistake in packing is simply trying to take too much – but why does that happen? The truth is that most people try to plan for all eventualities, which may have its virtues in day-to-day life, but doesn’t make for efficient packing. So, check the weather a few days before you leave and try to trust the forecast by only packing appropriate clothing.

Also, think about what you’re likely to do while you’re away and apply the same principle – pack the right kind of clothing for what you’ll actually be doing. As far as possible, choose items that mix and match well – that way, you should end up with more outfit options while packing fewer individual pieces of clothing.

Make your packing list ahead of time

Don’t leave your packing list until the last minute. Making it a few weeks before you’re due to travel will give you time to buy any bits and bobs you need but don’t already have, as well as remember anything you might have missed. A word of caution, however: when making a list early, it’s easy to add to it little and often, which can quickly result in a suitcase full of things you don’t really need. Be strict with yourself: only take the essentials.

Image credit: &#169 Richard Hobson

Roll with it

It’s surprising just how much more space you can give yourself if you roll rather than fold your clothing. This also provides the added bonus of fewer creases, which means less time spent with the ironing board and more time spent enjoying the view while you’re away.

Know what not to pack

Image credit: iStock/IPGGutenbergUKLtdUsually, knowing what to pack isn’t the problem; knowing what not to pack is another matter entirely. Suitcases quickly become overstuffed with items you either just don’t need, or don’t need to be in your suitcase. For example, if you plan to do a lot of hiking on your holiday, wear your hiking boots rather than packing them – without doubt, they will be one of the heaviest items you’re taking. Apply the same logic to all your bulkiest clothing, such as jeans, jumpers and coats. Don’t worry – if you’re too hot, you can slip them off once you’re on the plane!

It also pays to swap out other bulky items for smaller ones – a large camera for a compact one, sizeable books for an e-reader, full-size toiletries for travel-size equivalents…

Plus, check what amenities your hotel or villa provides. It’s likely, for example, that you won’t need to pack your hairdryer because there will be one waiting for you in your room.


Quick and easy tips

  • Slip socks, chargers and other small items into any pairs of shoes in your luggage to maximise your space.
  • Leave space in your bag for souvenirs – this way, you won’t struggle for space on the way home.
  • If you have a guide book, photocopy the pages that interest you and pack those rather than the entire guide.
  • Customise your bag – even something small, like colourful cord attached to your zip, can help you spot your bag quickly at the luggage carousel.
  • Carry cellophane – place it over bottles before screwing on the lid will help prevent nasty spills.
  • Pack your hand luggage as well as your suitcase – take only what you need, and remember to place all the items you’ll need for security and boarding, such as liquids and your passport, in easily accessible pockets.

Planning to travel with only carry-only luggage? Read our helpful hand luggage hacks.


  1. I rarely travel with luggage in the hold. I can buy what I need wherever I am going and it is often cheaper to buy at my destination than pay the charge to take a large suitcase. Just compare the cost of the taking a suitcase – return – and how much it would cost to buy your toiletries, t.shirts, flip flops etc. Some places have charity shops or thrift shops. Buy what you need there and take it back before you return. And you don’t have to lug the case about or wait for it at the reclaim.

  2. Most countries you are visiting are civilised and will have all the items you require so why take them and fill up your suitcase. If you calculate the cost of taking a large case and the cost of buying the same items where you are going, it is likely to be cheaper to buy there than pay for the case, especially toilet items, t.shirts, towels, flip flops. I rarely travel with more than a cabin bag.

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