From liquids leaking to being charged for an overweight suitcase, we’ve all suffered from luggage nightmares that could have easily been avoided. For a stress-free packing experience, just remember these top 15 packing tips and tricks.
1) Spruce up your suitcase
Don’t be faced with an airport baggage carousel crisis, where you’re struggling to identify your luggage from its identical neighbours. Label your suitcase carefully with luggage tags and make sure you ‘spruce it up’. Decorate it with ribbons, stickers or even colourful shoelaces so it’s instantly recognisable.
2) Take spare ziplock bags and use them to separate different groups of items
Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones – we all have so many wires and gadgets that are easily lost in a suitcase. To prevent this problem, ziplock bags are the answer. Take some extras as well as the ones for your on-flight liquids and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories.
3) To avoid stains – pack light-coloured clothes inside out and put disposable shower caps over your shoes
Ever packed light clothes and found a stain on them when you arrived? Never have this problem again. Firstly, you should always make sure your light-coloured clothes are packed inside out. Secondly, keep the disposable shower caps you find at hotels and use them to cover the base of your shoes.
4) Roll clothes and use vacuum compression bags/packing cubes
Don’t arrive at your holiday destination and be faced with a pile of ironing. To save space and stop creasing, roll your clothes instead of folding them, then place them in vacuum compression bags. To use these bags, you put your clothes in, seal the bag, then squeeze the air out. This will leave you with lots more space in your suitcase and will prevent creases more effectively than folding. Another good packing solution idea is packing cubes – these help separate your different items and access things more quickly.
5) Luggage scales will save you money
This is the secret weapon to help you avoid being charged unnecessary fees at the airport. Invest in some luggage scales and make sure you weigh your bags on both legs of the journey to see how close you are to reaching the weight limit. If you’re close to the limit, consider wearing some of the heavier items, or cutting down on what you pack in the first place (especially when it comes to heavy toiletries as you can just buy them at your destination).
6) Use empty cosmetic bottles and tubes to hide money
To avoid the worst case scenario of being robbed, it’s best to be inconspicuous and avoid flashing the cash. If you’re on the beach and you really must go for a swim, hide your money in an empty sun tan lotion container. You could also use empty lip balm containers to hide rolled up notes.
If you want some advice on how to blend in with the crowd, here are 10 ways to avoid looking like a tourist.
7) Use cling-film and tape to prevent liquid leaks
We’ve all suffered from the disastrous liquid leak in our luggage when we arrive at our destination. To prevent this, take the lids off liquid bottles and add a layer of cling-film. Then when you put the lid on, use clear tape to seal the gap where the lid joins the container. Now you can travel without the worry of any spills.
8) Make up tip – to stop powder and eye shadow cracking use a layer of cotton wool
Here’s one for the ladies. To prevent your pressed powder or eyeshadow from cracking during your travels, place a flat cotton wool pad in between the pressed powder and the lid.
9) Put scented draw liners/fabric conditioner sheets/a small bag of potpourri in your suitcase to keep everything fresh
It’s important to keep your clothes smelling fresh, especially if you’re on a long trip. By taking a small bag of pot pourri/fabric conditioner sheets/scented drawer liners, you’ll keep your clothes smelling sweet throughout the trip.
10) Holiday packing lists
Have a little notebook especially for your travels and title each page with a different holiday type. For example, this could relate to season, length of stay, or style of holiday. You could have pages for ‘weekend break’, ‘beach holiday’ or ‘winter ski holiday’. Spend 30 minutes brainstorming and making a packing list under each page. Always have this little book next to your passport, so when you go away, you will never have any mind blanks and will always remember the correct things to pack.
11) Have essentials in your hand luggage
It’s always best to be prepared for the worst and let’s face it, sometimes bags go missing. Make sure all your valuables are in your hand luggage and always pack a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage too, just in case the worst happens and your checked bag is lost/delayed. That way you won’t have to rush to the shops as soon as you arrive to buy replacement clothing.
Not sure what you can and can’t take on a plance? Check out these hand luggage restrictions for most major airlines flying out of Ireland.
12) Make use of ’empty’ spaces such as shoes
When it comes to packing, you need to make use of every little space you can. Roll tops/underwear/socks and other small items and stuff them into your shoes to make sure every possible space is filled.
13) Photocopy pages of your guidebook or take your e-book reader
Rather than bringing heavy books – just photocopy the essential pages that you need. It’ll save space and reduce weight. Or – if you have an e-book reader, just download the book instead.
14) Buy a lightweight suitcase
Don’t assume that buying the most expensive designer suitcase will get you an upgrade. Instead, it’s more likely to attract thieves at the airport and on your travels. It’s better to be inconspicuous and go for a lightweight option. If you’re using a hardshell suitcase, this can add up to 4 kilos of weight before you’ve even started packing, so expensive isn’t always best.
15) Have a little bag full of these random, but useful essentials
You never know when you’re going to get caught off guard on your travels. It’s a good idea to have a ziplock bag of the following essentials (they won’t take up much room and they could save the day): sticky tape, string, sewing kit, cable ties, spare luggage tags, padlocks, safety pins, pens, tissues, small sheet of bubble wrap (in case you buy any delicates), ear plugs, universal bath plug, pencil sharpener, mini LED torch, tweezers, mini scissors, mini calculator (ideal for bartering).
For more travel tips, check out these 10 common travel problems and how to deal with them.
*Updated December 2018. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.