How to travel light: Packing tips from a master packer

As I am preparing for my flight to Poland tomorrow, I wanted to talk about my least favourite aspect of travelling – packing.

We all know the struggle. The classic mistake? We pack too much and end up wearing only a few of the clothes we took. I am as guilty as everyone else, I used to travel with a suitcase full of clothes that didn’t even match, but were there because I took them “just in case”. As you can imagine, the unexpected never happened.

I had my eye-opening moment when I spent 10 weeks at a girls’ summer camp in Vermont five years ago and had a very limited selection of clothes. Not only did I manage to survive but I also gained a lot of compliments on my styling talents.

After nearly four years of frequent flying, I feel much more confident at preparing my luggage, even though I wouldn’t call myself an expert. However, I happen to know someone who could as well be a professional packer.

My best friend, Maja, has had a travel bug since I can only remember. She has already visited about half of Europe, lived in Australia for nearly three months and backpacked through Asia for another two months.

Maja in Barbados, Carribean (2015) Photo: Private

She is an awesome planner and one of the most organised people I know. She is also one of those amazing people who never get lost in a new city which makes her the perfect travel companion for someone like me who can get lost on the hotel floor.  #truestory

I asked Maja to share a few of her packing tricks and we came up with the following tips.

How to pack?

Backpacking South America (2015) Photo: Private

1. Do your research. Whether you are going for a proper expedition or planning a weekend getaway, check the weather forecast and plan your travel wardrobe accordingly. Luckily, there are a lot of helpful blogs and websites that offer packing lists and advise.

2. Bring that one sweater with you. Even if you are going somewhere warm, air conditioning is not always your friend. An extra sweater or a scarf won’t take too much space but will definitely save you from catching a cold.

3. Make a list. You can never be too organised. No matter how long you normally spend packing, a list will definitely save you a lot of stress. I would actually recommend keeping a basic list of the items you always need, such us phone chargers and medicines, I usually use Evernote so I can access my lists everywhere I go.

4. Wear the heaviest (and most comfortable) shoes on the plane. This way, you will avoid carrying extra weight and getting blisters at the same time! Pick a pair that matches all of your clothes. The same rule applies to your outerwear. If you only feel comfortable, it’s best to try and wear your heaviest clothes so that you will be able to fit more clothes into your luggage.

5. Pack a pair of ballet flats. They don’t take too much space and will be perfect for any occasion that requires you to dress a bit smarter. These would be a perfectly light option.

6. Be practical about choosing your outfits. The best idea is to mix and match, so make sure you don’t pack too many clothes with clashing patterns (unless that’s your style). Think of the activities you are planning on doing and imagine what you would feel most comfortable in.

7. Be careful with jewellery. Again, you may love jewellery and wear lots of it, but your luggage will be much lighter if you leave those chunky necklaces  at home.

8. Don’t take too many valuable items. Okay, we all travel with our laptops, phones and photo cameras, a lot of us need them to work on the go. However, think twice before packing all of your precious possessions into the check-in luggage. I usually keep my jewellery and valuables in my hand luggage.

9. Choose breathable fabrics that don’t need ironing. Unless you are 100 per cent sure you will have access to an iron, be practical and wear things that look good when you take them out of your luggage.

10. Don’t take too much. We’ve all been on that trip when we took too many clothes and wore only a third of them. I am sure in most places you will be able to buy that shower gel or an extra t-shirt for a very low price.

11. Be clever with your toiletries. Take make-up removing wipes instead of your regular remover, you can buy these pads instead of the nail polish remover, 2-in-1 hair shampoo and conditioner should also do the trick.

12. Learn how to pack more efficiently. It is never too late to learn a new skill or try new tricks. I usually just roll all my clothes, but I am tempted to try the bundle wrapping technique.  A few months ago, Maja also sent me this mind-blowing video.


Selarón Staircase (Escadaria Selarón) – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2015) Photo: Private


Additional must-have items:

  • Inflatable travel pillows. As I have already mentioned in my previous post, they are simply the best. They take hardly any space in your luggage and you can use them literally everywhere.
  • Portable phone charger. Another fantastic invention, it has saved my phone’s battery from dying countless times.
  • Dry shampoo. I usually use this one, but there are a lot of products from other brands that bring similar results.
  • Flip-flops. Even if there’s no beach in the area, bring a pair with you to use in the shower, choose the lightest option available.
  • Water bottle. If only the water from the tap is okay to drink, you will save both money and environment if you cut down on buying plastic water bottles.
  • Travel Spork, what a cute and perfect way for eating on the go.
  • Tote Bag, you never know when you may need one.


Maja in Bagan, Mandalay, Burma (2014)  Photo: Private