Packing. That single word can bring out the worst in people. Pre-travel tasks should be exciting; booking a trip is the most amazing feeling in the world and planning the best itinerary gets the heart rate soaring. But when it comes to packing, a lot of people feel way out of their depth.
Don't worry! Packing isn't a popular pastime for anyone, even frequent travellers who have this stuffing things into a bag malarkey down. If you're someone who breaks out in a cold sweat at the sight of an empty suitcase, here are some great tips for packing quickly, safely, and easily time and time again.
1. Know the weight limit
First things first, know what you have to work with. Weight limits vary from airline to airline, so it's well worth taking a moment to check how much luggage you can actually take with you. Often, this can be a blessing in disguise, as the unenviable task of whittling things down is made easier with a non-negotiable weight limit.
2. Make a list
When it comes to packing, lists are your friend. Instead of going in blind with a vague idea of what you need to take in your head, write it out so you have a visual note of the necessities. To really become a pro at packing, cut your list by 40% when you've written it.
3. Buy a small suitcase
What? I hear you ask. Why not just buy the biggest suitcase you can and stuff it full 'just in case'? This is where a lot of people go wrong with packing. Instead, seek out a small suitcase and fill it to the brim. The smaller amount of space means it's highly unlikely you'll over pack -- plus you'll always be under the weight limit. Now we've got the initial woes out of the way, let's get into the nitty gritty and discuss some ways you can really ace this packing thing.
4. Fill straws with shampoo
Shower products often take up the most space. Bottles are bulky and, let's face it, you're unlikely to use an entire pot or tube of shampoo on one trip. For a really neat trick that allows no wastage, grab some straws and fill them with shampoo and conditioner, tape the ends over and -- voila! -- you have miniature dispensers that save a tonne of space.
5. Store chargers with ease
In this day and age, it's likely you'll be travelling with an entourage of chargeable goods. Which means it's likely you'll spend the first day of your trip unravelling wires that have tangled on the journey. Packing pros use old sunglass cases to keep wires in order as well as ensure they're easy to find at a moment's notice.
6. Shower cap your shoes
Muddy shoes are the worst when it comes to packing. Your favourite white top? Immediately stained. The answer? Dig out some old shower caps or buy a couple of cheap plastic ones to slip over the bottom of your shoes.
7. Get handy with the plastic wrap
Plastic wrap is a packing pro's lifeline, especially when it comes to spillables like shampoos and conditioners. To avoid the sticky aftermath of a spilt bottle, tuck some plastic wrap over the top before replacing the lid as normal.
8. Roll, don't fold
By now, everyone should know that rolling not folding clothes creates more space and keeps your garments in mint condition. What's more, it's easier to see what you've packed than if you've folded and piled everything on top of each other.
Photo courtesy of Flickr: Connie Ma
9. Stuff spare spaces with underwear and socks
"You'll be surprised exactly how much more room you can gain by simply filling in those numerous small spaces in the corners of your backpack," says Ronald Robbins from Active Planet Travels.
It's true! Stuff balled socks and small clothing items into leftover gaps when you've finished packing for more space and easy access to fresh underwear.
10. Protect breakables with socks
Before you stuff your socks into those small spaces, fill them with breakables that are in danger of smashing in transit. Things like small perfume or aftershave bottles slip neatly into balled socks for protection and to save space.
11. Shoes go heel to toe
A lot of people make the mistake of laying their shoes any old way in their suitcase. Instead, place them in the bottom of your bag in a heel-to-toe fashion. This not only saves space, but it also means your suitcase is evenly balanced.
12. Pack plenty of empty bags
You can't go wrong with a few extra empty bags. They take up almost no room at all and are perfect for storing dirty laundry and small items.
13. Stop jewelry tangling with plastic wrap
Like electrical chargers, jewelry is likely to tangle in transit. To swerve a burst of frustration, wrap necklaces and bracelets in plastic wrap. First, lay down one sheet of wrap, place your jewelry on it, and add another layer of wrap over the top.
14. Create your own packing cubes
Packing cubes are all the rage. Not only do they create pockets of space within your suitcase, they also allow you to group together outfits for easy access. For a homemade option, use 2.5 gallon re-sealable bags to place an outfit for each day in.
Photo by Jesús Gorriti
"It's a fraction of the expense of 'official' packing bags", says Christina on TripAdvisor.
15. Women can store make-up in contact cases
Women, you can finally put those pesky contact lens cases to use. Pour in any liquid make up or cosmetic fluids and return the caps to prevent any spillage. This is perfect for short breaks and for taking small testers of different products with you.
itely isn't the best part of travel, but with these handy tips, you'll be packing like a pro in no time at all.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: