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How To Pack Smartly To Make Travel Easy

by Kate Gibbs
Posted: July 27, 2016

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** Open Colleges does not currently offer any Travel Courses**

The jet-setter lifestyle is of course fabulous. But there’s nothing like a forgotten item, a stolen essential or a badly packed bag to take the shine out of a trip, writes Kate Gibbs

In a round up of travel habits and hacks for savvy travellers, these tips on how to pack smartly will help prevent setbacks, bring style and make travel easy for just about any journey. 

1.    Make a packing pile

How to pack smartly to make travel easy

We’ve all done it, taken weeks and even months to plan a holiday only to pack the morning of the flight and arrive at the dream destination with a shocking shortage of knickers, a necessary swimming costume, or the phone charger. The trick is to do a pre-pack at least three days out. 

Go through the essentials, and check they’re all there (washed a ready to go). This organised version of travel involves gathering an unedited pile of destination-appropriate clothing, toiletries and accessories you might need, only to sharpen and fine tune closer to the day. 

2.    Write a last-minute list

The minimalist and the over-packer have one thing in common, they’ve both left one essential item behind when travelling. Often we neglect those items we use every day (and so which can’t be packed ahead) from the final pack.

The fix? Write a last-minute list to streamline the rush out the door on the day. A toothbrush, phone charger, make up, that tie you know will looking winning with a martini at cocktail hour: put them all on the list. 

3.    Pack these apps

Couple looking at travel apps

Not physical packing perhaps, but definitely on the must-stock-up list before you travel. A handful of genius and handy travel apps should be locked into your phone before you go, ensuring you’re on top of itinerary, flights, accommodation, language and things to do. 

  • Packing Pro is the Queen of all packing list apps, allowing you to create packing lists, filter items based on what you need to buy and find suggestions from other lists. 
  • DuoLingo will have you speaking Spanish, French, German, Portugese, Italian, Irish and Swedish before you arrive at your destination. Brush up on your merci and your grazie while you fly.  
  • Townske offers stunning city guides with gorgeous photography, plus you can find locals and check out their favourite places. This is not your typical user-generated content. 

4.    Back up your docs

Never one to use those ghastly flesh coloured body purses to squirrel away important documents and cash while I travel, I opt now for an added security measure should anything important go missing (I confess to things being snatched from my bag, leaving passports in a hotel’s safe, forgetting to check the seat pocket on the airplane, oops). 

Take photographs of your important documents such as passport, driver’s license, booking reference at the hotel, and save them in a secure app, or email them to yourself for safe keeping. Also on the admin safety nets, notify your bank if you plan to use your card overseas to avoid having your account frozen. 

5.    Never check in your valuables

Valuable watch, pipe, wallet, tie

Your most vital belongings shouldn’t leave your sight, after all, what will you do when that tone-perfect foundation makes its way in the wrong direction across the wrong ocean with the rest of your luggage? 

Medications, jewellery, your favourite watch, keep them all on you. 

6.    Pack a small pharmacy

Whether you’re travelling to Kuta or Kathmandu, a myriad of illnesses can crop up unexpectedly when you travel. 

There’s the requisite shots and necessary medications, but stock up on quick fixes to cure whatever ails you, from sea sickness to a headache, constipation, bug bites, jet lag and food poisoning.

7.    Always pack a scarf 

Handsome man wearing a cosy scarf

Whether the aim is to set out with the allure of Grace Kelly on tour, as it is with me, or simply to ensure access to a practical pillow-to-go at all times, a scarf is savvy traveller’s must-have item. 

Be prepared for any conservative dress codes, and drape a large scarf around your shoulders (or around your whole head if you’re one of those slack jawed or dribbling sleepers who’d rather not be seen mid-slumber), or roll it up and use it as a pillow on the plane. 

Pashminas work well, and for men, a light cashmere certainly beats one of those blow-up doughnut pillows in the style department. 

8.    Moisture, moisture, moisture

Even the most rugged traveller needs to take extra precautions while travelling regularly. Hand cream, a good face moisturizer, lip balm are air essentials that prevent cracked, chaffed, sore skin

Keep bottles under 100ml and go for slightly more intense moisture than you use on the ground. 

9.    Pack a covetable snack bounty

Avocado hummus healthy travel snack

When finding a delicious or nutritious snack at the airport seems like an impossibility, packing your own widens the horizon. That packet of peanuts isn’t going to lift your travel game, after all. 

Tapping into healthy snacks means you don’t face a post-flight slump, and it gives you an excuse to have a glass of bubbles (be it sparkling, Champagne or beer) without the guilt. Baby cucumbers, dried fruit, nuts, they’re great options no matter the mode of travel. 

Make DIY avocado hummus by pulsing one can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with a good glug each of extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lime juice and one avocado with a pinch of salt and ground cumin for a protein-packed snack to have with brown rice crackers mid-flight.

10.    Update your packing list after each trip

One for the pro travellers, or wannabe jetsetters: keep a thin notebook of packing lists in your luggage for the various trips you take regularly. 

Whether it’s a beach holiday, ski trip, weekend away, each trip has its own packing list, which you can update each time you travel. After each trip, cross off items you didn’t need, and add ones you wish you’d packed plus any must-have purchases from your trip. 

** Open Colleges does not currently offer any Travel Courses**


Kate Gibbs

Kate is a Sydney-based food writer, author, photographer and cook. She is known for her passionate stories about food, writing three cookbooks and hosting food events including Taste of Sydney, Regional Flavours Brisbane, and Tourism Australia’s recent food trade event.

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