Packing 101

Several friends and family members have been embarking on long haul international travel recently, and have asked for advice on the art of packing. So, here it is!

Firstly, you should have two bags to pack – a backpack for carryon, and a suitcase.


  1. Anything heavy or breakable should go in here, including guide books and laptops.

  2. Laptops need to be easily accessible, as you’ll need to take them out during security screening at the airport.

  3. You should have your mini toiletries in a clear pack – a zippy lock back works well, and also doubles as an easy way to protect the rest of your stuff in case of spillage under pressure.

  4. All your electronics cables go in a large zippy lock bag, so they don’t get squished in your suitcase (and you can still use them if your suitcase goes missing).

  5. Always have a spare change of clothes in your backpack when you fly, just in case.

  6. If you’ve ever received a travel blanket you were allowed to keep, this is a must on long haul flights.

  7. All your travel documents should go into a single travel wallet, or if you don’t have one, into an envelope per location.

  8. All medication that you take should be in your backpack, even if you’re not due to take it during transit.

  9. Regardless of the weather from your departure point, or the weather you anticipate in your destination, take a good jumper for the plane. A hoody works really well, and doubles as a way to help you sleep.

  10. If it’s a longhaul flight, you’ll also want either a blowup neck pillow or the beanbag style lightweight ones. If you have a good quality backpack, you can often tie your beanbag pillows to the outside of your bag, rathern than having it take up space on the inside.

  11. You MUST be able to lift your carry on bag over your head by yourself, to use the overhead bins on the plane.


  1. I’m going to start with the stuff to skip: hairdryers (most hotels will have one), hair straighteners (travelling isn’t about glamour), full sized toiletries (mini travel ones are lighter and easier to pack, and if you need refills, you’ll be able to buy them at your destination), and a full-sized umbrella (fold up ones are much better and more convenient, and if you really need one, you’ll be able to get it in your destination).

  2. Pick two or three pairs of shoes, and leave the rest at home. I try to wear the heaviest ones on the plane (normally my trainers), and then pack a pair of thongs/sandals and a pair of closed in/dressy shoes.

  3. Think through your your itineraries – what are you going to need? Walk your way through the day, collecting and putting in one spot all the things you need or making a list of them if you’ll still need them before you leave. Eg, “I wake up – I need pj’s. Go to the bathroom and get ready for the day – toothbrush/toothpaste, brush, spare hairties, BB cream.” etc. Make sure you don’t lose the list before you go! This stuff is usually super important!

  4. Try to pack clothes that are light and versatile, and also easy to wash/dry. If all your tops go with all your pants, you can mix-n-match. Even when going to a cool climate, think layers.

  5. We bought 4 cheap, light, drawstring bags from Kmart or Big W to use as our dirty clothes bags/laundry bags. They have a shoulder strap, for those times when you’re absolutely loaded up.

  6. Think about how often you can do your laundry. Do you need 10 pairs of socks if you’re going to wash every 4 days?

  7. Pack the heaviest things at the base of your bag, so it doesn’t tip over (especially for upright, wheely suitcases).

  8. Pack some spare zippy lock bags of different sizes – they’re great for keeping things together that you collect along the way or keep things separate from others, and super light.

  9. Liquids in your suitcase should ALWAYS be in a zippy lock bag to prevent spillage under pressure or breakage.

  10. When putting things in your bag, try to put similar things in the same spot, as in all shirts in a stack, all pants in a stack. It will save you rifling through your whole bag. This is also the reason I’m not an advocate for the ‘rolling’ method of packing, or travel space bags (also a fast track for overpacking and exceeding your weight limit).

  11. Pack your ‘list items’ the morning you leave.

Voilá!  Easy to use bags :)