Travel & Leisure

How to Pack Like a Savvy Traveller

Knowing what to expect can help you avoid having to learn from your mistakes

Photo: iStock/Ralf Geithe.

If you’ve never flown before or haven’t flown in a long time, you could probably use a few tips from more frequent fliers. Here are some ideas to help take some of the worry out of your travel preparations.

Expect the unexpected.
Luggage can get lost, so pack all your essentials in your carry-on. If your luggage does get lost, you’ll still have all your valuables and some clothes to wear. Include prescription medication, toiletries, and your swimsuit—you may not have time to go out and buy replacements before your bags turn up.

It’s also a good idea to take a small first aid kit on the plane with you. Flights can cause headaches, so include some pain medication. Chewing gum can help you deal with pressure changes during the flight. Include anti-nausea medication, just in case, and earplugs are essential.

To check bags or not to check bags?
Make sure you know how many bags luggage you’re allowed to bring so you can avoid extra fees if possible. If you’re not travelling for very long, see if you can manage to take only a carry-on bag so you won’t have to check in any luggage; it’ll save you time at the airport at both ends of your trip.

If you know you need to check a bag, pack as lightly as possible. If you leave extra space in your bag, you’ll have more room to bring souvenirs home with you afterwards.

Be careful with toiletries. Assume they will all leak and place them all in a large ziplock bag to avoid a mess in the future. Also keep in mind that you may not need as many toiletries as you think. If you can pick up toothpaste and shampoo after arriving, you can pack a lighter bag and avoid creating waste with those small, disposable travel-sized containers.

If you’re planning on a long stay and know you need to bring a lot, consider shipping some things in advance so you don’t have to take them through the airport and can pick them up after your arrival.

Make sure you’re ready to adapt when you land.
Find out whether you’ll need an electrical plug adapter for your electronics. Some countries use coins more than banknotes, so it can be a good idea to take a change purse. Make sure to chart the itinerary you’ll need to follow when you land, and check the weather ahead of time. It never hurts to pack a small raincoat or umbrella.