Simple packing mistakes you’re probably making

It’s pretty hard to pack for a trip abroad. You start out with a medium sized suitcase and tell yourself that you’re going to pack light. You want to leave room for your shopping trips, souvenirs and gifts… but before you know it you’re sitting with a pile of t-shirts, three evening dresses and endless pairs of shoes that just won’t seem to fit. How do frequent travelers do it? Here are some simple packing mistakes you’re probably making that can be easily rectified and save you space, time and sanity.


Know your limits

We’ve all experienced it at some point or another… you’ve packed your suitcase and fumbled your way to the check in desk… only to be told that you are in fact over the baggage limit. You’re left with two choices – 1) pay the extremely expensive excess baggage charges or 2) open your suitcase in the middle of the airport and start sending home those extra sweaters with family members that came to send you off. #embarrassing

Instead of stressing about excess weight and expensive baggage charges do your research way in advance when you book your tickets. Research the airlines baggage size and weight restrictions. By doing it before booking your tickets you may even find that some airlines allow larger bags at the same price. Now that you have all your information on the size and weight restrictions, you’ll be able to pack accordingly.


Research, research, research

Spend some time reading up about the place you’re visiting and what the weather is going to be like. This way you’ll know if you need to pack more summer or winter clothes. Also do some research into where the markets or shopping centers are. That way if you feel the need to buy an extra jacket or location-trendy bikini, you can when you arrive.

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Plan ahead

That being said, don’t assume that just because it looks like a warm destination you shouldn’t pack some clothes for cooler weather. Remember that evenings are usually much cooler so even if it is a beach side holiday, pack some light layers. Also think about what sort of activities you will be doing when you arrive. If you’re planning on visiting some cultural spots, you may have to cover up your shoulders and legs.


Don’t over-packing

It’s a common idea to pack all the great bikini’s you own and all the trendy jackets you’ve purchased from cities you’ve been too but that’s going to take up a lot of space and make your bag heavier than it needs to be. Lay out your items and then cut them down in half. i usually take two pairs of jeans and a few light t-shirts that I can wash and reuse. If it’s a short trip I really consider whether I need to bring along all my electronic devices – laptops, DSLR cameras, GoPro’s and a mobile phone. That’s a lot for one small suitcase so I try and double up where possible. If I’m spending just a night or two (like at the Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch) then I usually just take my phone and charger. I can do most things like replying to emails, updating social media and even schedule and write blog posts from there without any hassle.

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Mix and Match

One of biggest pit falls when packing is packing once off outfits that can’t be mixed and matched with other items. That means having to pack at least one or two separate and complete outfits from tops to shoes for every single day. Crazy! But I’ll let you in on my new little secret – only pack clothes that can be reused and re-matched with other items. Use neutral colors that perhaps won’t be so easily noticed in your photographs as being reused. I like to wear the same shirts under a strap dress, or pair them with a skirt on a different day and have one throw over shirt that can used over jeans, dresses or even bikinis!


Cut down the shoes

You’ve got to limit the shoes. They take up way too much space! They’re pretty damn heavy and quite awkward to squeeze into a suitcase. I usually limit myself to one pair of sneakers, one versatile colored pair of pumps, one pair of flat sandals that can be used during the day (and night if need be) and one pair of heels.

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Stuff your shoes

One of the biggest secrets I recently learnt is that there’s a lot of space inside shoes. I usually stuff pairs of socks or small perfume bottles in there. That way, I’m utilizing as much space as possible.


Roll your clothes

Yes! Don’t fold those jeans but roll them as tight as possible. Do the same for your shirts and dresses too. Squeeze them as tightly as possible and then line them up as closely as you can in your suitcase. See how much space you save. That’s a little trick we learnt from Supernatural’s Sam and Dean Winchester.


Do you have any packing tips to share?

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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