We all know how exciting the build up to a holiday is whether it’s six months away, two months away or two days away! No matter how organised you are though, packing is usually the worst part and is why most of us are guilty are leaving it to the last minute. Make holiday packing a breeze and transform some of your holiday packing methods.
In our detailed guide below, we’ve got a list of 50 holiday packing tips for your next adventure! Covering general luggage tips, clothing packing tips, toiletry packing tips, gadget and document packing tips, as well as food and medicine tips, we’ve got you covered for your next vacation.
Whether your next adventure is a yoga retreat or fitness holiday, a relaxing beach holiday, city break or even a cruise, careful planning when it comes to your packing will save you a lot of hassle in the long-run. Within the guide, there are also some fantastic tips from top travel experts! Read on below to see just what they have to say.
LUGGAGE PACKING TIPS
PACK PLASTIC CARRIER BAGS
CHRIS WAIN - DIRECTOR - AFRICA TRAVEL
"Pack plastic carrier bags in your suitcase - it may sound silly but they are essential for packing because they’re multipurpose. Plastic bags can be used to protect clothes from damage, leaking sun cream, shampoo and other toiletries, as well as to separate and pack dirty laundry you acquire during your travels.
Plastic zip lock bags are also a great item to use, particularly handy for protecting and separating your gadgets from the other contents in your suitcase."
PACK EVERYTHING INTO BAGS
EMMA HULL - PR EXECUTIVE & TRAVEL BLOGGER
"One of my greatest tips is to pack everything into bags. Sounds silly but it actually comes in super handy. I label mine as tops, bottoms, underwear, jewellery and bathroom stuff. It is great if you have a big rucksack and need to find certain bits, and you don't want to unfold everything. You can actually buy travel bags - but plastic bags work just as well!"
MAKE A PACKING CHECKLIST
This should be one of the first things to do before starting your holiday packing (other than ensuring you have a suitcase). Making a packing checklist will help you to be thorough and ensure you’re not forgetting anything. You can split up your checklist into essentials, hand luggage, clothes, accessories and then toiletry and beauty products.
PACK TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE
Don’t leave your packing until the last minute to then realise you need to buy a new toothbrush, some travel sized bottles, or even some new underwear. As part of your packing checklist, you should write a diary note to at least start the packing process two days in advance.
OBSERVE LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS
Most airlines will have restrictions when it comes to your luggage – both your hand luggage and the luggage which you want to place in the hold. This is mainly often just the amount of bags you have, as well as the weight you’re allowed per passenger. There are also restrictions on the size of your bags, as well as restrictions on what items you’re not allowed to take in your hand luggage.
INVEST IN A LIGHTWEIGHT SUITCASE
There are so many stylish and sleek suitcases out there that you really are spoilt for choice! Size and weight should definitely play the most important role when you’re out suitcase shopping. Buying a suitcase which has metal protection might be good for durability; however it will really impact on your luggage allowance.
SPRUCE UP YOUR SUITCASE
Avoid any issues when it comes to collecting your luggage from the conveyor belt and not being able to identify your own suitcase by sprucing it up a bit. Especially if you’ve got plain black luggage, you could add stickers, a coloured ribbon or even just ensuring your suitcase has a tag is a good start.
If you haven’t already heard of them, packing cubes are about to transform the way you pack. Packing cubes will help you to organise your belongings and keep them compact. As well as keeping clothes neat and less creased, packing cubes can also help you to maximise your space.
Keep your luggage smelling fresh by packing a fabric conditioner sheet or scented drawer liner here and there. When you get to your destination you could also use them in your hotel room as well, especially if it’s a comforting scent and smells like home.
USE HALF THE SUITCASE EACH
If you’re travelling as a couple or with any family members, to avoid any issues if your luggage gets lost or goes astray you should use half of each other’s suitcase. Therefore, if your suitcase did happen to go astray then at least you’ve got some back up clothing, underwear and toiletries.
PACK HEAVIEST ITEMS AT THE BOTTOM
Avoid squashing or damaging any delicate or fragile items by packing the heaviest items (not including your towel) at the bottom of your suitcase. These heavy or bulky items might include electrical items such as a hairdryer, shaver or straighteners, shoes and then certain accessories including belts and handbags.
TOWEL ON TOP
It’s often a good idea to place your towel on the top when it comes to packing. You might want to use it straight away at the hotel for freshening up or for heading straight to the pool (especially if your hotel room isn’t ready yet). Your towel also comes in handy for some additional padding in your suitcase.
CARRY ANY VALUABLES IN HAND LUGGAGE
Unfortunately luggage theft incidents do still happen so it’s best to take any precautions where possible. Packing any valuables in your hand luggage rather than in your hold luggage means that you’ll have them on you at all times. This might include your purse or wallet, jewellery, mobile phone and any other digital devices.
CHECK LUGGAGE WEIGHT
Just like they’d do at the airport, you should check the weight of your luggage yourself at home. This helps you to know how much extra weight allowance you’ve got. Luggage scales are really worth purchasing, as you can just pop them in your suitcase and take them on holiday with you.
CHECK & DOUBLE CHECK ESSENTIALS
There’s nothing worse than any last minute panics either on the morning of travelling or even when you get to the airport. Avoid any issues by checking and double checking that you have the absolute essentials for your holiday. These are your passport, travel insurance documents, tickets/booking confirmations, bank cards and travel money, mobile phone and charger, as well as any medication.
BUBBLE WRAP DELICATE ITEMS
Take some bubble wrap on your travels. This might sound silly but take some folded bubble wrap in your suitcase with you. It will come in handy when you’re travelling back from your holiday and you’re bringing home some delicate mementos and keepsakes.
UTILISE ALL COMPARTMENTS
If you’ve made the right choice when it comes to buying your suitcase, then hopefully you’ve got various compartments inside your bag. This is useful when it comes to organising your clothes, underwear, toiletries and gadgets etc. Just make sure not to put anything in outside pockets if your luggage is going into the hold!
BONUS TIP: REMOVE PET FROM SUITCASE
It has been known that pets do like to come and sit in an empty suitcase to claim their territory or just to remind you to pack them too. Yes they might look cute and they might just fit in, however they will take up quite a bit of your weight allowance so it is recommended to remove any pets from your suitcase.
CLOTHING PACKING TIPS
PACK FOR YOUR ACTIVITIES
PAUL JOSEPH - CO FOUNDER - HEALTH & FITNESS TRAVEL
"Pack for your activities – by planning your outfits in advance you can avoid chaotic mornings and always be prepared to take on the day. Whether your next adventure is a yoga, fitness, cultural or water sports holiday, pre-planning saves a lot of hassle in the long-run. Once you have each outfit laid out, fold (or roll) them together and pack them in the order in which you’ll need them. Don’t be tempted to overpack ‘just in case’; plan ahead, and you’ll have exactly what you need."
ROLL, DON'T FOLD CLOTHES
Not only does rolling your clothes instead of folding them save space but it also prevents them from getting too creased as well. This technique can also be applied with specific outfits. For example, you could roll up a dress with underwear and then wrap it all up with a pair of socks to save space.
PLAN FOR ANY PROBLEMS
You might have a friend or relative who has already been victim to a lost luggage scenario, so to make the best out of the situation (if it were to ever happen to you), pack a change of clothes as well as essential medicines and toiletries in your hand luggage as a backup.
PACK A SWIMSUIT IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE
There are 3 items which you should pack in your hand luggage to avoid any luggage issues from ruining your holiday. The first is some swimwear so at least you’ll be able to relax by the pool, the second is a versatile outfit or dress which you can wear for day and night, and the third is a multitasking scarf which you could wear as a sarong, shawl, head scarf or even use as a towel.
WEAR YOUR HEAVIEST & MOST BULKY ITEMS
Unless you’ll be arriving somewhere hot and between noon and 3pm (which is generally the hottest time of day for most countries), wearing your heaviest and most bulky items will hopefully save you some weight in your luggage. Heavy items might include long trousers or jeans, long dresses, and then a jacket or jumper.
PACK DUAL-PURPOSE GARMENTS
Aim to only pack items of clothing or shoes that you’re happy wearing at least twice (or even 3 times). This ensures that the pieces you do end up packing are much more versatile and hopefully will result in you packing less stuff.
ONLY PACK ENOUGH FOR 7 DAYS
Even if you’re going away on holiday for two or three weeks, you should only try packing enough clothes and shoes for one week. It will be harder to choose those items but you’re likely to wear most of them twice anyway so it’ll really help you to cut back on what you take. You can always wash the clothes whilst you’re on holiday anyway.
JUST TAKE A FEW SHOES
It might be a tough choice, especially if you’re known to own more than ten pairs of shoes, but versatility over volume really is key when it comes to deciding which shoes to pack. It will depend on how long you’re going away for and what types of activities you’ve be doing, but as a general rule three pairs of shoes is usually a good amount for a 1-2 week vacation.
PACK LIGHT-COLOURED CLOTHES INSIDE OUT
Particularly if you’re going somewhere sunny and warm then you’ll most likely be packing some light-coloured clothing. Avoid any stains from grubby shoes in your case by packing your light-coloured clothing inside out.
MATCH COLOUR PALETTE TO DESTINATION
This might not be relevant to every destination but if you often struggle to decide what to wear when packing, then matching your colour palette to your holiday destination might just help. For example, you could pack rich azure blues and whites for the Greek Islands, or you could pack burnt orange and berry hues if you’re going somewhere like Marrakech.
USE SHOWER CAP TO COVER BASE OF SHOES
Grubby shoes can be a nuisance when it comes to travelling both to and from your holiday destination. Avoid any unwanted stains or dirty suitcases by using a disposable shower cap to cover the base of your shoes. Just wrapping them in a plastic bag will work too!
This goes without saying really but you should keep updated with the weather of your destination right up until the day you’re going. This will help you to mentally prepare for the weather conditions as well as helping you to pack the most appropriate clothing and accessories.
PAC A MAC
Even if you have researched the weather and it says blue skies and sunshine all week, we’re not suggesting you should pack your best waterproof and windproof outdoor jacket but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to pack a lighting pac-a-mac which won’t take up much space in your luggage.
UTILISE EMPTY SPACE IN SHOES
Don’t waste any space where you pack your shoes and instead pack socks, rolled up t-shirts or gadgets inside your shoes. As well as utilising your shoe space, you should also tuck underwear and socks into any spare gaps between other clothing and luggage items.
LAUNDRY BAG FOR DIRTY LAUNDRY
Take a laundry bag (or just a plastic bag) in your suitcase to separate your dirty laundry and clean laundry whilst on holiday. Especially if you’re away for a few weeks, you’ll want to know where your clean clothes are at and to also make things easier when you return home.
VACUUM STORAGE BAGS
Compress your belongings safely and securely by investing in some vacuum storage bags for your holiday travels. Not only will they reduce the volume of your clothes and help to add more space in your suitcase but they will also protect your items from dirt, dust and damp. Only downside is that you do usually need to use a vacuum cleaner to seal it all up.
FOOD & MEDICINE PACKING TIPS
TAKE A FIRST AID KIT
ADAM COULTER - UK MANAGING EDITOR - CRUISE CRITIC
“For stress-free cruising, we highly recommend that you take a first aid kit, since medications onboard can be expensive. To create more space in a small cabin, we also suggest packing an over-the-door shoe holder so you can easily store small items such as make up, toiletries and jewellery. It is also worth taking a foldable bag for bringing back things you want to buy onboard and ashore, as well as a good size bag for day trips or beach trips. This can also be used to house your first day essentials onboard, since you might not receive your luggage in your room for a good few hours.
It is also advised to bring along a small power strip - no more than two outlets and not power surge protected - to charge your smart gadgets, as there are often not enough outlets in cruise cabins. Lastly, for men, it is worth packing at least a jacket, if not a suit and tie, for more formal nights onboard."
BRING SOME JUST IN-CASE MEDICATIONS
If there are certain medications that you really need to rely on then always bring a few days extra, just in case there are any delays either going out or coming back home. You should also bring a few extra medications for headaches, colds, allergies and even an upset stomach, especially if it’s a destination you’ve not been to before.
PACK HOME COMFORTS
If you’ve got a bit of extra space in your suitcase, then it’s always worth packing a few of your favourite snacks and favourite tea and coffee brands. They might come in handy if you miss the hotel breakfast one day, or even if you arrive at your hotel late on the first night and need a comforting cup of tea before bed.
GADGET & DOCUMENT PACKING TIPS
ZIPLOCK ESSENTIAL TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
Keep all of your essential travel documents all in one place and close to hand. Having your passport, tickets, travel insurance etc in a clear wallet or ziplock bag will help you identify them quickly and easily. Ziplock bags are also great for organising your electrical items such as chargers and other cables.
TRAVEL WITH CABLE TIES
Keep all your electronic cables tidy and organised by securing them individually with cable ties. As mentioned above, pack them in an easy-to-spot bag such as a clear bag which will especially come in handy at airport security when you need to place electrical items in the tray.
KEEP A COPY OF DOCUMENTS
Keeping a copy of your important documents is underestimated and should be quite high on your priority list. Particularly documents that you’ll need for travelling such as passport, boarding passes, travel insurance, driving licence, you should ensure you have either a digital or physical copy for reference.
SEPARATE YOUR TRAVEL MONEY
You shouldn’t keep all your travel money in just one place, although try and not hide it so well that you can’t find it again! You’re always going to need some cash on holiday, however it’s definitely worth checking the conditions of using your credit or debit card abroad to save you carrying around lots of cash.
DON'T FORGET THE ADAPTERS
Different countries have their own standard plug type and voltage, and although some plug types are interchangeable for several countries it’s best to double check. You might be able to grab one at the airport, however it’s not guaranteed and it’s also likely to cost you more!
Leave the heavy paperbacks, travel guides and maps at home – instead transfer all your reading material and documents to your mobile phone/tablet/kindle before you go. Well, depending on how reliable your digital devices are anyway and you also might want to avoid having to rely on the local wifi access too.
UPLOAD TO GOOGLE PHOTOS
To save space on your phone or to avoid packing unnecessary additional cameras or memory cards, you should try uploading your holiday snaps on the go by uploading to Google photos. This also helps to create a backup of any really precious holiday moments as well.
TOILETRY PACKING TIPS
TAKE TRAVEL SIZE BOTTLES
Even if you’re packing bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, moisturiser etc into your main luggage, it’s still a good idea to take travel size bottles where you can. This will help to free up some space as well decrease the weight of your toiletries.
PUT CLING FILM OVER BOTTLES
Before placing your bottled products (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel etc) into your wash bag, add a layer of cling film under the twisting cap of your bottles. This will help prevent your toiletries from exploding all over each other or over any other items in your suitcase.
LIMIT YOUR LIQUIDS
With airport security limiting the amount of liquids you can take in your hand luggage anyway, it’s a good idea to try and limit the rest of your liquids. Either by taking fewer products or you could also buy solid versions e.g. shampoo bars, conditioner bars, soap bars instead of your shower gel.
TOILETRIES IN SEPARATE CONTAINER
This might not be obvious to everyone, as you might get tempted to slip that shampoo bottle into a shoe or into that little bit of extra space between your t-shirts, however it’s advised to pack your toiletries in a separate container or wash bag so they don’t explode all over your clean clothes.
TRAVEL SIZE HAIRDRYER
Particularly if you’re a frequent traveller and not always staying in a hotel where they might provide a hairdryer, it might be worth investing in a travel size hairdryer and some straighteners. Similar to downsizing your travel products, downsizing your electrical items will also help to save space.
BRING THE HAND WASH
Bringing a small bottle of travel hand wash with you means you can freshen up any of your clothes or underwear on the go. This also means that you could actually pack fewer items of clothes, as you can just wash them on holiday – particularly useful for underwear.
COTTON WOOL PADS IN COMPACTS
To help prevent any of your powder compacts from smashing or crumbling during your travels, try placing a cotton wool pad between the pressed powder and the lid which will help provide more cushioning.