How to pack like a pro


You’ve booked your trip and the count-down is on. It’s never too early think about what you’ll be packing and what luggage works best. Whether you are headed to some undiscovered Shangri-La in mist topped mountains, a luxury all-inclusive destination, or taking to the skies on a high octane business trip to must see world capitals – you’ll need quality pack and carry solutions along with a bit of packing organisational savvy.

From city breaks to global adventures, luggage, holdalls and backpacks and are prone to rips, tears and abrasion.

Travelling the globe for work and pleasure has helped to educate me in choosing durable carry solutions that should last you a lifetime – just like the memories that you’re making.

Whether you are carrying every last thing you might need in a luxury backpack or packing treasured clothes and possessions in full size luggage – I’ve found that the same luggage requirements and packing methods apply.

Choosing the right carry solution

Choose options for maximum comfort that are the right size for you. If this is traditional luggage on wheels, check the handle height. If you are going for a carry-on backpack, look out for padding on the hips, shoulders and back.

Are there compartments and easily accessible areas for your toiletries? (remember the fluid restrictions for flights – with carry-on luggage and smaller backpacks you’ll need to access these easily before each security check.)

With larger bags, are there easy to access sections so you can quickly get your hands on chargers, toothbrush, nightwear etc if you’re arriving shattered and rolling straight into bed?

I would suggest ordering a couple of types of bags online, then see which one you prefer once you’ve tried packing a few things.

Whether you are off to a luxury resort or a quirky boutique place, all luggage is treated the same by baggage handlers, so be sure to choose carry solutions with durability in mind.

Read up on the science and testing behind the fabric used in the bag or pack. Question it. How has it been tested? What qualities does the fabric have? You’re going to need a lot of abrasion resistance and great tear strength. Nothing worse than seeing your belongings scattered on the luggage carousel. (Trust me, this is a real phenomenon!)

Check the obvious – is it waterproof? I learned this the hard way from watching my bag get drenched while sitting on the tarmac in Hawaii.

Do the zips look like they will withstand the usual last minute cramming in of soggy
swimwear and mementos?

Pro packing tips

Pack ahead – I find that if I pack at least a week before then this leaves more time to not only get excited about the trip, but plenty of time for buying the items that I’ve forgotten. I only seem to remember these must haves during the actual packing process! Packing the night before sends my mind into overdrive and I tend to have a bad night’s sleep before my trip.

Buy a luggage scale and pack it for your trip. You may have more luggage allowance for shopping than you realise once you have used up your larger toiletries!

Check and double check your luggage allowance. Airline policies change all the time. For a recent short trip I was caught out because I had gone over on baggage weight and had to repack / rebalance the load at the check in desk. Lesson learned – always bring an extra collapsible bag for those last minute must haves.

Become a rolling convert. Once you try rolling your clothes and gear there really is no going back! You will be surprised by how much space this frees up and how much easier it is to see exactly what you’ve packed. I’ve found that knitted clothing such as tee’s, dresses, and leggings are your travel friends for easy pack and go mobility. And provide wrinkle-free solution for when you have to go straight from airport to a special event.

Packing cubes are also great especially if you are packing for kids. They are really affordable and mean that the children can get involved in unpacking at the other end because the items are pre-sorted – a cube for underwear, one for dresses and so on.

Cut back and bulk up! Don’t forget that most luxury accommodation offers reasonably
priced laundry services. If you are going for two weeks, then try taking one week’s worth of clothes – I’ve never looked back after trying this. I also make sure that I wear my bulkiest items to travel in. Heavy-duty outdoor jackets and snow-boots are going to take up a lot of your luggage weight allowance and space.

Make a list for each type of trip and save it. I now have lists saved for ‘2 week beach holiday’, ‘winter city break’, and so on. I can call these up whenever I need them and often I’ve made a note of what I didn’t need. This can also be really great for encouraging independence with children – you can simply message the relevant list to them and begin giving them the independence to become pro travellers.

Always pack a lightweight bag such as a tote or fold away backpack in your main luggage; it’s sure to come in handy for all manner of uses from beach to hiking or climbing and beyond.

Ditch the ‘just in case’ items – there are shops in most parts of the planet these days, so if you really do decide you need it you can buy it.

Cindy McNaull is the Business Development Director for INVISTA’s CORDURA® brand fabric. CORDURA® fabric has a more than 50-year legacy of enabling the development of high-performance apparel and gear products.

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Comments (7)

  1. Dan Swan says:

    We’ve got both medium size cases and large cases too. Why is it that my wife always crams everything into the medium size case?

    She never accepts that she’ll buy souvenirs and presents along the way. We’ve just been to the United Arabia Emirates and on the 28th December she bought a present for her sister for next year.

    Luckily I persuaded her to take the large case, especially as she bought a wonderful desert print that would never have fitted in the medium case.

    For me the first rule of packing is so simple: you’ll want to bring more back than you took out. Make sure there’s room for it.

  2. Karen says:

    My packed case never looks anything like the one in the picture. I’m going to try rolling things as that should get rid of the problems of creasing. Though I’m not sure about using hotel laundry services, to me they look very expensive but that maybe just for us Brits as the pound is so weak.

  3. Jerry says:

    Staring as “older” travellers, it took a while to learn to travel light. Packing cubes, rolled up layers, and budget for laundry now feature strongly over large suitcases!

  4. Kiera Joslyn says:

    I love these kinds of life hacks. Despite always trying to pack as sensibly as possible it usually goes rather haywire. I also never used to give much thought to the bags or suitcases themselves either. As you say with learning the hard way with your bag getting soaked in Hawaii, I’ve had contents get wet inside and sides split open and all sorts. I now see the point in investing in a quality bag or case! Next time I’m going to try the rolling technique. I get fussy thinking rolling with cause more creases than folding but they always come out a mess anyway so I’ll try this way in future. Good tip on making lists too, especially if you have kids and can give them an idea of what they need so they can take on a little independence and responsibility themselves.

  5. Dick says:

    If only my case looked like that! To be honest my clothes aren’t that colourful either. That picture makes me realise that I’ve got too many bland beiges and greys and boring blues.

    Thinking of packing, life changed when the budget airlines introduced charges per case. How many couples have tried to share just one case for a trip? That must have started thousands of matrimonial tiffs.

  6. Rolling my clothes has always been the best packing advice if you want to travel hassle-free. It saves you so much space for the extra things. Thank you for sharing the amazing tips.

  7. Mika Robinson says:

    I know I should have mastered packing the right way for trips as of the moment. Unfortunately, I still struggle in fitting eveything in my suitcase. I managed to choose the right luggage during my biggest trip last year but I still had a problem in taking everything that I need with me. I think it really depends on the nature of the trip. Sometimes we tend to bring less things when we know what to expect on our destination, and bring more when we are unsure of what to expect. Packing smart is definitely the best advice I can get since I travel a lot, but I am having a hard time in sorting things out because I think that I will need some stuff along the way.

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