On his recent trip to Barcelona (great fun had by all, nobody died or got hurt or fell of a balcony, phew) Charlie was travelling with cabin baggage only, so we very carefully checked the baggage sizes allowed by the airline for his suitcase. He was on a pretty tight budget anyway, so he didn’t want to risk any extra charges. Trouble is, then we completely forgot about the liquids restrictions and he got all the gorgeous Ultrasun UK suncream that I gave him confiscated. ARGH! My sister in law told me a story recently of her Mum treating herself to a hideously expensive Crème de la Mer moisturiser and then completely forgetting about the restrictions and getting it taken away. Can you imagine?
Anyhoo, apart from that pretty huge slip up, I’m generally pretty good at packing light these days – I think it comes from trip after trip of noticing so much stuff that I don’t even use – so House of Fraser asked me my top tips for travelling stylishly with cabin baggage only and I was very happy to oblige!
Pick your case well
You want something that’s pretty light so choose your cabin luggage well. And while you’re double checking the size your airline specifies, check if they specify a maximum weight too. If you start off with a heavy case, that’s less weight left for your belongings. I like a soft sided bag (I’m a bit paranoid about the hard shell cases popping open, but each to their own). Try something like this Samsonite one, which is lightweight and has a TSA approved lock too (if you don’t have that, and you’re travelling to Americky, find a TSA padlock – it means they can open it without breaking it as they have a master key).
Use the ‘bag within a bag’ system
I swear by using lots of little bags and pouches when I’m travelling, and always look out for them when I’m out shopping. Find a clear one for your toiletries (see below) and you won’t have to faff about putting them in a sandwich bag, then use another for your underwear, soft drawstring bags to keep shoes from leaving dirty marks on your clothes, and small zip up wallets for your currency and jewellery.
Go big on fun-sized toiletries
You know when you’re buying Clarins or Clinique and you get those ‘buy blah, get three travel sizes free’? I save these up in a special box for when I’m going away. Even nicer, half the time I’ve forgotten what I’ve got and it’s a nice surprise to try out a few different bits and pieces.
Make a list, check it twice
For me, it’s the morning I’m travelling where I let myself down here: chargers left plugged in by the bed, toothbrush and toothpaste left in the bathroom, even sunnies left in the car at the airport… I have a printable packing list here on English Mum, and I ALWAYS print one out and do a final check as I’m leaving the house. You’d be amazed how often things have been forgotten (including once, a boarding pass left in the printer).
And finally, my biggest revelation:
I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I tend to only like certain colours anyway so it’s no biggie for me. Think about it: taking tons of different colours means you’ve got to take tons of different shoes (no point packing a black dress if you’ve only got navy shoes – it looks weird). I tend to stick to a palette of soft blues, denims and corals, with bright accessories, neutral shoes plus a pair of Converse for travelling and sightseeing. Works a treat, and saves the ‘argh, I have no cardigan/shoes/whatever to go with this outfit’ scenarios. At the very least, as you’re putting it into your suitcase, have a quick think about how you’ll wear the item and what you’ll wear it with. You’ll be surprised as to how much this will influence you’re packing.
Wear your hat (or stuff it with something soft and pack around it), plus some sort of wrap to keep you warm on the plane, don’t forget a light waterproof jacket and you’re good to go!
What about you? Any great packing tips?