Friday, January 14, 2011

How to travel light - 5 tips on how to lighten your load when travelling

photo by garryknight

With the recent big sale by British Airways, it’s a good time to get packing for that well deserved holiday again. I don’t know about you but I have lost count of the number of times I had to rush through the flight checkout counter and sprint to the gate before it shut.

I come to realise that the key thing (besides turning up at the airport earlier) is to pack as little as possible. If you can just squeeze everything into just one hand carry luggage, you can potentially check-in online, skip the luggage checking in queue and then head to the flight departure gate with less hassle.

Packing light comes with experience and this is when the time spent in army back home helps; you tend to pack as little as possible and then squeeze whatever that is essential into a manageable pack. Well, here’s five tips on how to travel and pack light.

Decide on the luggage size

You’ll be surprised how many people don’t actually do this. Many would in fact decide what to bring and then look for a good size bag. They will invariably bring along more than they need and can manage to carry along.

Try this the next time round: decide on which suitcase you’re going to bring along and lay it open on the open floor. Given a choice, I would stick to the largest possible size for onboard carry luggage. Note that you will be able to carry a laptop bag size and handbag as well, count those in too. You’ll need every cubic centimetre.

Lay out your items for inspection

Avoid placing items into luggage an item at a time. Before you know it, you’ll run out of space and then got to unload everything and start over. Instead, lay out everything that you plan to bring along. Take a quick glance at the open luggage beside you and chances are you’ll have to forgo that thick sweater or the extra pair of running shoes. Discard as many items as possible. You can always add them back in if there’s space after that.

Roll them up, pack them tight

This is the cardinal packing rule. Forget about folding your clothes, roll them up instead. Doing so will not only reduce air trapped in them, it’ll also prevent unsightly creases. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can squeeze into that bag of yours when every single garment has been rolled up.

Remove packaging and go light

It would be great if we could just transport our entire bathroom when we travel, wouldn’t it? That’s probably why some of us are tempted to lug along our facewash, shampoo, conditioner, shower cream and tons of other toiletries with us when we travel. Bring it if you must but leave all the packaging behind. Instead, bring along small transparent plastic bottles and pump just enough for your trip. These bottles, each just 100ml, can be reused and fall within the liquid safety guidelines to be brought onflight in a hand carry luggage. Some come with pumps and others with a simple screw cap, all of which can be bought from Boots.

Park your excess luggage

This is a problem we face when travelling to somewhere with a vastly different climate. For instance, the last time I fly back to Singapore during winter, I had to lug my heavy coat through the customs after touching down at Singapore's Changi airport. Hardly the way to start a vacation.

For those of us who drives, consider driving directly to the airport and store any excess luggage in the car boot before checking in. Of course, there’s the parking charges to contend with but great savings can be made by booking in advance. Simply check out Heathrow airport parking and Luton airport parking .

There you go, my 5 tips on how to travel light. Did I miss anything?

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William K Wallace said...

I must admit when I go on holiday, especially if it is for 3 weeks or more I like to take plenty of clothes with me. I can usually cope with a medium sized suitcase and a smallish carry on bag.

My trick is to always to head to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I always expect hold ups travelling to the airport and huge delays when I get there. I learned my lesson many years ago when I nearly missed a flight. I find getting there nice and early is always less hassle and pressure!

C K said...

Believe me, I did try to do that but it does take some discipline, doesn't it? I resort to skipping a meal and have it at the airport instead these days. Food's perhaps the only thing that'll get me to the airport on time.