Do you dread packing every time you book a trip away? You need to read these expert tips that will help to make the process far simpler.
Sitting on top of a suitcase, sweating, desperately trying to pull the zip round the corner of your bag – we’ve all been there, probably more than once. Packing is a task that so many people dread and put off and it often ends up being a stressful way to begin a holiday.
From deciding what to bring to finding practical ways to pack them into a case, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to packing. And with luggage restrictions on flights or a lack of space on other trips (in cars and on trains, for example), you often don’t have the luxury of packing everything you would like to bring in a huge suitcase.
Here, Anna shares all the best tips she’s learnt when it comes to packing a suitcase and her packing lists, tailored to both short and long-haul trips.
Anna’s expert packing tips
Choose an appropriate suitcase
A suitcase that is fit for purpose makes the process of packing so much easier. It’s worth investing one if you’re in a position to, in order to find one that fits your needs.
“I personally love a durable hardshell suitcase with 360 degree spin wheels,” Anna says. “They’re less likely to get damaged and their shape is really helpful for packing and living out of when you reach your destination.”
“Try and purchase the lightest suitcase you can find,” she adds. “There’s no point wasting your luggage allowance on heavy luggage!”
Think about your trip before packing
“Will you need any formal outfits? Are you just planning to live by the pool? Are you going to be doing a lot of walking?” are questions that Anna says you should ask yourself to help guide your packing.
“This will also help you to see if there are any gaps in your wardrobe that you might want to fill before you leave,” she adds.
“Take a look at the weather forecast too, which will help you get more of an idea of what sort of clothing you need to pack,” Anna suggests.
Start planning for packing early
Part of the stress of packing is the urgency involved with it. Anna therefore suggests that you start to think about packing a week or two in advance of your trip.
“Don’t start physically packing too early though,” she adds. “There’s nothing worse than packing and then needing to dig around your suitcase for things you still need to use – two or three days in advance should be fine.”
Keep soft items on the top
It’s easy to get confused about where certain items will fit best in your case when packing. Anna’s advice is to pack harder items first and then work towards softer items that you can press down.
“Things like toiletries and electrical items usually go in my case first then I’ll move onto shoes and bags and then clothing,” she explains. “That way, I can use my clothing to fill any gaps or provide protection to anything in my suitcase that might need it.”
Rolling your clothes really does work
“It’s a classic tip, but rolling instead of folding your clothes does help you to maximise space in your suitcase,” Anna says. “I’d also recommend investing in some packing cubes because they can help you compress down your clothing and keep your case organised, so it’s easy to unpack when you get to your destination.”
Decant all of your toiletries
“There’s no excuse to be taking a family-size bottle of shampoo on a seven-day trip,” Anna says. “Either decant out your toiletries where possible or use up all those little samples you’ve been hoarding.”
In terms of other bulky items in your suitcase, Anna suggests wearing any bigger items from your case while travelling, adding, “my husband once travelled to Auckland in a pair of hiking boots!”
Find a multi-purpose hand luggage bag
“Always make sure that your hand luggage bag can double up as a bag you can use on holiday,” Anna says, recommending tote bags or a big straw bag for a hot-weather holiday.
“I think it’s useful to pack a couple of extra totes too – they always come in handy for shopping or taking to the beach and you can also use them to store dirty laundry,” Anna suggests.
What to pack for a short-haul trip
Anna’s packing list for a trip that ranges from one-four nights is as follows:
Items for a separate bag (or an easily reachable place in your suitcase)
- Travel documents
- Mobile phone
- Books/magazines/entertainment downloaded onto your devices
- House keys
- Valuable Items
- Cotton wool/cotton buds/flannel
- Tweezers, nail scissors and ear plugs
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hair brush and hair bands
- Shower gel
- Deodorant and perfume
- Make-up remover
- Daily moisturiser with SPF
- Evening moisturiser/facial oil
- Makeup brushes and tools
- Foundation/tinted moisturiser
- Blush/bronzer/highlighter palette
- Eyeshadow and eyeliner
- Brow pencil
- Lip products
- Hair styling products
(Buy body SPF and insect repellent for your group after security if needed).
- Pants/socks/bras (x nights you’re away for +1)
- PJs (1 set)
- Trousers (x2)
- Skirts/dresses (x1-2)
- Tops (x nights you’re away for +1)
- Day bag/evening bag (one day, one night)
- Jacket or coat (x1)
- Shoes (1 day, 1 night)
- Weather appropriate accessories: swimsuit for warmer climates or gloves, hat and thermals for colder
- Clothing for any planned activities: hiking boots etc.
- Phone charger/external battery charger
- Laptop/laptop charger
- Any hairstyling tools
- Travel adapters
- Sunglasses/umbrella depending on weather
- Water bottle
- Tote bags
- Camera if you use one
Extra things to pack for a long-haul trip
If you’re travelling for more than five days, Anna recommends packing the following items along with the items on the above list.
Hand luggage bag
- Extra layer of clothing
- Neck pillow/eye mask
- Spare pair of pants
- Mobile battery charger
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hand gel
- Lip balm
- Multi-tasking moisturiser
- Extra pants/socks/bras (x nights you’re away for +2)
- 1 pair of PJs for every three nights you’re away
- 1-2 extra skirts/dresses
- 1-2 extra trousers
- Extra tops (x the nights you’re away for +2)
- 2 extra pairs of shoes (1 for evening, 1 for day)
- Fresh outfit for the flight home
- Body oil and tanning products (if weather-appropriate)
- Eyelash curler
- Beauty blender
Anna Newton, influencer
Anna is an award-winning online content creator, who has fronted her blog and YouTube channel, The Anna Edit, since 2010. Her blog is ranked as the 5th biggest in the world in the lifestyle category on Bloglovin’. Anna is also Sunday Times bestselling author with her first book, An Edited Life.
She co-hosts the chart-topping podcast, ‘At Home With…’, alongside Lily Pebbles, and has collaborated with brands such as SpaceNK, LG and Waitrose.
Images: Anna Newton and Emma Croman