Struggling to pack all the essentials into your suitcase? Learn how to effectively pack for your next adventure with these five tips, including the best travel products to help you out...
Travelling is incredible - life-altering, perspective-shifting, eye-opening. But before you get to the destination you've been dreaming about for years you have to do the inevitable first: pack. From deciding if you can squeeze all you need in your carry-on luggage, to picking which suitcase or bag you take in the hold, finding appropriate-sized toiletries and worrying about where to carry your valuables - it can be a complete headache. And that's before you've somehow made all your belongings fit in your chosen bag.
But worry not, with our expert guide you can make sure your packing is, quite literally, in the bag...
Back before Wanderlust magazine was born, our two founders Lyn Hughes and Paul Morrison embarked on a big trip around South America, each only armed with what they could stuff in their carry-on bags. Doing this not only spares you any backache from shouldering a big pack, but really forces you to prioritise and think about what you really need. Increasingly it also saves you money on check-in fees too, particularly with budget airlines, not to mention time - no waiting at the carousel for you...
Opt for a daypack or small backpack - around 30-40L is good - and always check its dimensions against the hand-luggage restrictions of the airline(s) you'll be travelling with. If your hand-luggage isn't your one and only bag then always take a change of clothes inside just in case your main bag gets delayed. A pashmina or sweater is good for onward journeys on draughty buses and trains or in case you get delayed at an airport - as are a few staple toiletries (under 100ml of course). Don't forget to pop your phone charger in there (with adapter plug) as well as your camera and headphones.
With a seemingly never-ending array of options it can be difficult to know which bag to take on longer trips. So consider the pros and cons of the main contenders...
Best for: Cities
Easy to haul around the airport or station and with one main packing compartment, making it a breeze to throw in your belongings. But you might be in trouble if you encounter cobbles, uneven terrain, or the need to take your wheelie on mules or up mountains.
Adventure Travel outfitter Eagle Creek make roller bags with outsized treaded wheels that are designed to roll more freely over rough terrain. If you’re likely to be travelling with large volumes of kit they suggest looking for self-supporting bags that won’t fall over easily.
Best for: Heavier luggage
Let's face it: all the easiest transportation vehicles opt for four wheels, so when you've got to take a lot of kit with you it's worth realising that an extra two does not mean double trouble. In fact, it will give your wrists a rest with as you can effortlessly roll it by your side.
Best for: Trekking trips
Tackling Toubkal? Navigating the mountains of Nepal? If headed hiking at altitude you'll undoubtedly be reliant on porters and mules or even yaks to help carry your load. Do them a favour - avoid wheels and opt for a duffel, as these are perfect for them to stack and secure.
Best for: Backpacking
If you know you'll be on the move a lot and need to stack your bags easily in compartments on public transport, then spare yourself the extra weight of the wheels and opt for one of these. You'll keep your hands free and can always get a special cover to help keep the straps secure if the bag is going in the hold. Eagle Creek’s Global Companion 65L rucksack (pictured above) caters for this by having an integrated check-in bag that doubles as a rain fly.
Best for: Extended trips
If you're going to be jumping on and off transport, going from city to countryside, then keep your options open with a bag that offers a combination of carrying options. You can pack these like a duffel, roll them like a wheelie and convert them to a backpack - for multiple terrains and trips.
With hand luggage's 100ml restrictions on liquids it's best to keep your essentials to these security-friendly sizes. However, rather than buying expensive miniatures at the airport before your getaway, plan ahead. Buy reusable 100ml containers that you can refill with your favourites from home - not only a cheaper option but you're also saving tonnes of single-use plastic bottles from ending up in landfill - good for the pocket, planet and conscience.
Keeping things organised - especially in a big suitcase or duffel - can be tricky and no one wants to have to empty out the entire contents of their bag to find their toothpaste, PJs or clean underwear. Packing organisers make this a breeze. Available in different sizes and offering compressible options - meaning you can fit more into your luggage (so great for an extended or multi-activity trip) - you can arrive at your destination safe in the knowledge that everything is grouped together and fills the space perfectly.
Keep it simple by dividing up by clothing 'types' - tops in one, trousers in another, underwear in another... you get the idea. Or if you're doing several things on your travels divide them up by activity - so smart clothes for dinner out in a restaurant, rough clothes for safari walks, warm clothes for night time excursions. Not only will it save you time looking for them, but you can also easily unpack and move the clothes from suitcase to wardrobe or overnight bag easily too. Genius.
Pickpockets are a reality all over the world, so when it comes to your valuables it's worth keeping them in special security pouches discreetly tucked against your body. From money belts that go under your trousers to neck wallets, leg wallets and even special bras for hiding cards and cash, there are different sizes and styles so you can choose what you are most comfortable with.
With contactless bank cards and passports with chips it's also worth investing in a wallet or document holder that has RFID technology. This prevents your personal data being 'read' through your pocket or purse, stopping identity theft in its tracks.
Written in partnership with Eagle Creek, the packing experts - who have over 40 years' experience and were the first brand to introduce the innovative Pack-It system. More packing advice can be found on Eagle Creek's blog - The Travel Hub and the Eagle Creek You Tube Channel.
Rohan stocks a range of Eagle Creek products and Wanderlust subscribers get a 10% discount - see here.