I am a disorganised traveller. Having grown up as a British Airways staff-traveller, booking holidays last-minute has become second-nature. Worse still, packing for week-long holidays the night before we were due to fly became customary. My most recent trip abroad saw me scrambling on a Friday night, trying to pack everything away in time for a flight on Saturday morning.* So, with that in mind, I want to share some of my top packing tips for disorganised or busy travellers; let me paint you a picture…
Friday evening. 5:30pm. T-minus 24 hours to fly.
An empty suitcase.
I forwent the customary Friday-pub-club after work and went straight to the shops to pick up the last-minute things on my list; dry shampoo, makeup wipes, that kind of thing. By 8pm, I was home – suitcase still empty. Dinner went straight in the oven and so the packing commenced.
1. Make a list
Ideally you’ll have this beforehand. I like to make mine on the commute – an hour and a half is plenty of time to think about all the things you’ll need for a week or two. I like to categorise them too, to make it easier to compartmentalise (clothes, toiletries, makeup). It’s important to also list the exact items (or near enough) I’ll be taking – blue jeans, 2x jumpers, 4x light tops – that kind of thing, so that it’s narrowed down already. Otherwise I’ll spend forever staring at my extensive wardrobe, wondering where to start.
2. Pack methodically
Clothes first – always. Stow your socks and delicates in a small cloth bag to keep them all together. Roll your clothes rather than fold them to save space. Then, the heavier items. Toiletries like shampoo and perfumes. You should wrap these in a bag or within your clothes to keep them safe. Anything you use on a daily basis, like makeup, should be put to one side, used on the day of travel, and any liquids under 100ml can stay in your hand luggage.
Top Tip: use a clear makeup bag/pencil case (if you have one) or freezer bag to store your liquids under 100ml for your hand baggage. You’re pre-packed and ready to go through security before you’ve even left the house.
Ladies, I say this with love, cut down on the crap. I have a small makeup bag which holds all of my travel essentials.
3. Keep track
I forgot to pack pyjamas on my last trip abroad. Luckily I had family members coming on a later flight so someone brought me a set, but the worst part is that I remembered I’d forgotten them when I was packing the night before. the moral of the story: if you remember something while you’re doing a non-packing-related activity, write it down on your list! Otherwise, the next time you remember it will be at the airport, which is no use to anyone!
4. Don’t overpack
It’s part of our consumerist society that we always want a different outfit for every day of the week. Now, that’s fine, but try and be smart about this. Don’t pack too many statement pieces, and instead go with items that can be mixed and matched to suit different occasions. And don’t forget about accessories – a good scarf or necklace can change a top-and-jeans casual combo into something a little more smart and evening-ready. If you want some tips on how to do this, check out my Instagram page, for combo ideas from my last trip to India.
5. Don’t stress
Stress incites a panicked response and that’s when you’re more prone to forgetting things. No stress = no panic = more efficient packing. Plus, who wants to be stressed just before they go on holiday? No one. So follow my tips, don’t stress, and pack smart (even if it is last minute).
Check out my IGTV video on packing for a weekend trip: @anamikatalwaria
If you have any more packing tips to share, please let me know! I’d love to hear them, so drop me a comment below.
*This is a side-effect of travelling as a staff-member; you have to play the odds. The UK had just been hit by snow that saw hundreds of flight cancellations, so rather than taking the Saturday evening flight, as I had originally planned, I had to try my luck on the morning flight, and hope enough people were no-shows at the gate. Lucky for me, I flew out as planned.