How to Pack Like a Pro
Now I do not claim to have any brag worthy skills but I can pack like a pro. This skill came from a place of necessity. First of all, when I travel, I tend to move around a lot and getting around is easier with less stuff. Secondly if there is a curse of the ‘missing hold luggage’ then I have been cursed for a long time! Also lots of airlines now charge you for hold luggage, even on long haul. So, over the years I have trained myself to pack for any destination and any length of time using only hand luggage. From a month in Indonesia, to back to back weeks of retreats and 8 weeks in Central America. And you can too! Even if your goal is not to go hand luggage but just to reduce the amount you travel with, we have you covered! Lets pack for our next adventure!
The correct bag
The bare bones of being able to pack like a pro. I have spent years switching between using a regular skate day pack (those front straps come in very handy!) and a hand luggage sized hard case. The trick is having the right bag for the destination. If you are going somewhere where you will be moving locations and using buses or trains, always take the back pack. There are amazing side loading packs now which are a lot easier to use than normal top loaders. Try not to get caught up in teh expensive ones being the best! Mine was £30 and has done the job for years and gone all over the place. Pick one that is not just spacious enough for your stuff but also comfy to carry. If you are hiking and going on day trips this then also becomes your day pack! If you are simply travelling from the airport to your destination and back again then take the hard case. Remember, not all airlines have weight restriction so always check before you pack!
Also remember you get to take a handbag sized carry on item as well as your larger bag so keep all of your essentials, documents or even your washbag in there!
For years I have watched people turn up to yoga retreats with HUGE bags and then only use 50% of what they packed. To keep it simple here are the top clothing tips…
- You really do not need a new yoga outfit for every day! I promise, you really don’t.
- Don’t pack randomly. Pack items that make multiple outfits not just one.
- Clothing that multi tasks. Chances are your yoga top can be used for during the day, leggings for hiking etc.
- Try not to pack bulky items unless you know it’s a must have piece.
- Pack like a pro and wear your bulkiest stuff to travel. Heavier weight trousers and jumpers don’t need to take up space in the bag if you just wear them to travel in.
- Shoes – the bulkiest pair to travel in (hiking boots, trainers) the lightest to pack.
- Use a compression pack. They work. They are wonderful.
- Do you NEED it, or do you WANT it? If space is getting tight, get brutal. My mantra with this is ‘ is it a must have or a nice to have?’
- The big one – know your destination. For example, I have taken multiple pairs of leggings to Costa Rica in the past and then once there the idea of putting them on in that heat is a big no. Long and loose is the way! If you know you are going to a country where it is custom to keep legs covered like in Morocco, chances are you won’t need multiple pairs of shorts. If you are going somewhere with mosquitoes, visiting temples, skiing, beach holidays whatever you are up to, find out a bit about what you need so you dont waste space.
The Big One
Of all the packing tips and hacks there is only really one that is the deal clencher. Your wash bag. Yes, I am sorry but the only way to really pack like a pro and make this work is to seriously rethink the quantity of toiletries you take away!
- Makeup – most people stop wearing makeup when they go away by about day three. The heat, activities, need for sunscreen and just stopping worrying about it all play a role. Treat your skin to some makeup free time or consider simplifying your routine.
- Decant into 100ml bottles if you know you want to have your usual products.
- Again, know your destination. Will there be shampoo and shower gel where you are staying?
- Ditch the boxes. Tooth paste, tampons, plasters, paracetamol sheets – take them all out of their boxes and save loads of washbag space.
- Buy it at the airport. Once that hand luggage bag is through security whatever you buy doesn’t need to fit in it. I always buy my sun screen, mosquito repellent and any other full sized bottles in duty free so there is no need to compromise on the bottle size or amount. Just always remember to have the bag sealed at the checkout if you know you are travelling in transit through another airport before your final destination. America and the Middle East (including Doha and now Dubai) will confiscate items in unsealed bags even if you have an airside receipt. I learnt that the hard way…
- Use soap and shampoo bars. They take up far less space than bottles of gels and are more eco friendly too!
This can be more personal than the rest. I now only travel with my mobile phone as it is my camera and my laptop all in one. If you can, leave your laptop at home as it is one less thing to worry about damaging and keeping secure plus, they take up precious bag space and weight one the chargers are in! Obviously if you find great joy in using a proper camera then take it. My one luxury item for long travels is the electric toothbrush – I can handle a week or two but any longer and it comes with me.
Packing the bag
Ironically, I tend to not have any real technique with the actual packing. To pack like a pro it really is more about the preperation. Generally, trousers go at the bottom, tops and pants go into the compressor bag and whatever else is just in there. The only things is keeping the washbag at the top (if it doesn’t go into your handbag) to go through security and have access to while you are travelling. Phone charger and adapter at easy access are also useful.
Give it a go! It’s not for everyone and for many, having some home comforts on holiday is what is needed. However, when you land and everyone else is queuing for their bags, getting nudged by trollies at the carousel you will be smugly smiling as you stroll past and straight outthat exit!
If you give it a go, share your victory (or attempt) with us! tag us using @adventureyogi #AYPACKLIKEAPRO