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Five Things Not To Do When Packing for a Trip

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Packing for a holiday can be exciting as you imagine the wonderful times you’ll be sharing with those soon-to-be-jet-setting outfits, but it can also border on traumatic if you get yourself into a packing pickle.

To help ease your packing pain, I’ve come up with a handy guide of five things not to do when you’re packing for your next adventure.

Pack at the Last Minute

I have a friend who we like to call Batman, who can pack for an international trip, shower and get dressed all in under 40 minutes. I love him and he never leaves anything behind, but this is not what normal people should do.

In the days, weeks, or even months leading up to your trip do your Future Self a favour and make a list.

There are list apps that allow you to add things as you think of them, and then tick them off as they’ve been packed. And you can then save and reuse them for future trips. I have a separate list for my carry on items which I check before every trip.

But it really doesn’t matter if you use your smart phone or a scrap of paper, making a list will not only make packing day so much easier, it will stop those ‘I really must remember to pack my phone charger’ thoughts doing laps in your head.

And while we’re talking smart phones, if you’re not already onto eSIMs that’s a great thing to sort out while you’re at home so you can be connected as soon as you land and avoid global roaming charges. I use Airalo, which has digital data packs for more than 200 countries and regions. To get US$3 off your first eSIM with Airalo use the code AMANDA9838 when you sign up, and the folks at Airalo will also give me a US$3 credit too.

Lists make packing day much easier

And don’t forget to check the carry on weight limit for your bags. More and more airlines are weighing bags and then making customers pay up if they’re over the limit. It’s one way for them to make money back on cheap airfare tickets, but it’s not fun for us.

Read more: Eco friendly gift ideas for sustainable travel lovers

After years of balancing on bathroom scales I now travel with a luggage scale. They’re small, light, and you can pick one up for under $15 which is a bargain for peace of mind as you head to the airport. My scale has repeatedly helped me do some last minute luggage editing that has saved lots of money on excess baggage fees.

Go Free Range

Remembering everything on your list is one thing, but when it’s time to put said items into a suitcase, life will be better if you get a bit organised.

If you haven’t discovered packing cells, or packing cubes as they’re also known, the time has come. These clever packing solutions allow you to put different kinds of clothes into different cells, so you’re not digging around in your suitcase, flinging clothes on the floor as you try to figure out where on earth your favourite top has disappeared to.

Read: Twelve Great Travel Apps to Pack in Your Phone

I love taking the cells, or packing cubes as they’re sometimes called, out of my bag and putting them into a hotel drawer and then just opening the top. That way everything is there, neatly looking up at you, and with one zip the whole drawer is ready to hop back in your case and move onto the next location. Winning.

There are all sorts of packing cell shapes and colours out there, including transparent ones. And if you’re tight on space compression packing cubes can help you pack much tighter by getting the air out of the clothes in the cubes (no vacuum required).

I first got hooked on packing cells at Kathmandu in Australia and as well as checking your local luggage store you can find a huge range of packing cell options on Amazon.

If you’re going on a big trip and are looking at taking more than your usual amount of luggage you may also like to check out my story all about the pros and cons of taking two medium checked in bags compared to one large one, complete with some excess baggage maths.

Roll All of Your Clothes

Yes, rolling will save space by expelling the excess air, which means you can fit more into your case.

But there are times when you should roll with it, and times when you should go old school and just neatly fold. A good rule of thumb is to roll those things that don’t usually need ironing, and fold those that do.

If you put those neatly folded items into your trusty packing cell they won’t get all crumpled as you search through your case.

Don’t forget smaller rolled up items can go into your shoes to save space and help them keep their shape. Shoes that are then placed in a nice shoe bag or even a plastic bag or recycled shower cap to keep everything nice and clean.

If you’re flying with an airline that loves to ping people if they’re a kilo or two over their limit, it’s also good to remember that if you can fit more into your suitcase, it’s most likely going to weigh more too.

Consider packing lighter items and wear your heaviest pair of shoes on the plane. If you’re looking for comfortable and light shoes to pack, Rollie Nation shoes were originally created by Australian designer Vince Lebon for his flight attendant wife Kat, and are now sold around the world. Their Derby Punch shoes are only 320g (that’s lighter than a pair of thongs) and come in lots of classic and fun colours.

You can also lighten your carry on load by putting heavy things in your pockets. When it comes to pockets, the SCOTTeVEST has a whole lot more than most with some styles having as many as 42 ways to store your things.

There are dedicated pockets to carry tablets (yes, my iPad fits in my SCOTTeVEST perfectly), phones, cameras, travel documents and more, with RFID blocking ones to keep potential hackers at bay. As well as vests and jackets the range now includes cardigans, hoodies, pants, shorts, skirts and dresses with hidden pockets in all.

Carry On Breaking the Rules

Most of us now know the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels we can take on a flight, but there’s a long list of other things that you shouldn’t carry on with you.

Weapons and explosives are rather obvious, but some sporting goods and kitchen utensils are also on the naughty list. Check the rules for the country you’ll be flying in or out of to make sure you’re on the right side of the law. For example, if you’re travelling to or in Australia you’d need to head to the Australian Government’s TravelSECURE website.

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Keep in mind some drugs that can be easily purchased in any chemist in some countries are banned in some others, so make sure you check the prohibited list before you fly to, or through, an airport.

Things you definitely do want in your carry on include your medications, valuables like your laptop and jewellery, and some toiletries to make the flight more pleasant. It’s amazing how lashings of moisturiser can make a difference in the sky whether you’re packing the plane themed Jet Lag Mask or any of your favourite skin quenchers.

An outfit change is also a good idea, just in case your checked baggage takes a little side trip of its own. Most missing bags turn up within a few days so a fresh set of clothes would help tide you over. And of course you’ll want to make sure you have travel insurance so you can start buying replacements if you need them.

Forget To Check Your Passport

Okay, sure you can do this one if you’re travelling domestically, but if you’re heading for an international terminal you don’t just need to check that you have your passport, you need to make sure it will get you into your destination.

Your passport may be valid, but how long does it have left? Some countries require people to have a minimum of six months left on their passport before they’ll let them in.

How many stamps you have could also be an issue, as some places insist on one or two blank pages in a passport before they’ll add their own immigration stamp.

I now have “Please Leave Blank” post-it pleas on a couple pages in my passport after picking up that tip from a particularly well-travelled friend.

Of course a quick online check on whether you need a visa for the country you’re heading to is also a very good idea. Much better to find that one out well before you get to the airport.

And if you’re about to head off on a trip and have insurance through your bank or credit card, it’s a good idea to read this piece about why your credit card’s travel insurance may not be enough before you jet off.

Don't get the passport blues

So there we have it. Five things to avoid when you’re packing for your next adventure. And for the crazy cat people out there we have a bonus round…

Pack with Cats

They pretend they’re being helpful, but they’re just not. Let’s be honest they’re really just psyching you out and working the travelling pet owner guilt so they get more fishy treats. But that’s a story for another day.

Now if I could only get enthusiastic about the whole unpacking thing when I get home. Yeah, I can’t see that one happening in a hurry, but maybe one day…

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and book something I will get a little something to help pay those blogging bills. You can find out how and why I use travel affiliate programs here. 

Adventures All Around is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Looking for some more packing tips? Check out my story on travel packing essentials, the things I love to have with me when I head to the airport. And if you’re heading to Europe you should take a few minutes to read up some of the most popular travel scams to avoid while you’re there.

Woman sitting on bar stool with handbag lying on the floor. image Daria Shevtsova

Leave a Comment

  1. Haha we have the cat problem here too. Great tips.

  2. Great packing tips here of what not to do! and i love your lips luggage 🙂 You certainly can’t miss that in the sea of bags in a carousel!

    • Thanks! And how cute is that case? Sadly the handle snapped on our last flight together so she’s about to be turned into a little storage number for the house rather than my favourite carry on. But she got to see a few special places on our travels together 🙂

  3. Great tips Amanda – and lols on number 5!! I have no cats, but do have a doting schnoodle and my do-not when travel is getting the suitcase out too soon. They knoooow! Congrats on making the top 10 finalists for the comp – good luck for the announcement and hope to meet you at Problogger! x

    • Thanks! And that tip about not getting the case out too soon did make me laugh. Miss Kitty does start to give me a look when she sees that suitcase. Though the person who takes care of her while I’m away gives her loads of extra portions whereas I’m trying to help her on a diet, so maybe she likes it when I go now? Hmmm….

  4. Tori F says

    Love these tips! And giggled at the “pointy end of the plane,” comment lol! My cats always try to sneak into the bags too. 🙂

    • Ha! Thank you 🙂 And glad I’m not the only one with a cheeky cat. Of course, they wouldn’t love the airport if they got there, but they’re definitely curious about the whole thing.

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