Packing a suitcase is like riding a bike: you never forget how to do it, no matter how long it’s been. Right..? If you’ve forgotten how, don’t worry. With domestic travel a possibility from 12 April, and international flights potentially from mid-May onwards, we thought you could use our 16 smart tips on how to pack your luggage like a pro.
Of course, non-essential travel is still not permitted in, to or from the UK. When it’s time to get back out there, always keep an eye on the government’s travel advice and the latest COVID-19 rules and regulations in your destination.
How to pack with peace of mind
1. Make sure your trip is safe and flexible
Things can change fast. That’s why at Skyscanner we’ve created some handy tools that can help you book your trip with confidence. While booking travel on our awarded app or website, make sure to filter for flexible flight tickets, airline safety ratings, free hotel cancellation and cleanliness ratings. You can also learn more about airline filters and airline cleaning and get informed on the types of COVID tests available right now.
That way, when it’s time to start thinking about the fun stuff, like how to pack your bags, you can do so with confidence.
2. Make a packing list (that includes COVID essentials)
Toothbrush? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Mask and travel-sized hand sanitiser? Check. And you might want to consider pre-printing your boarding pass or using your phone to ensure your boarding is as contactless as possible. It’s true that the pandemic has changed the way we think, and that includes the way we pack. To ensure you’ve got all the essentials covered for your safety, check out these 12 things you need to pack if you’re travelling right now.
And when you’re done with that, download our holiday packing list.
How to pack your clothes
3. Avoid stains
Ever packed light clothes and found a stain on them when you arrived? You never have to encounter this problem again. Firstly, always make sure your light-coloured clothes are packed inside out, and secondly, use disposable hotel shower caps to cover the soles of your shoes. Genius.
4. Roll and vacuum pack
Don’t arrive at your holiday destination and be faced with a pile of ironing. To save space and stop creasing, roll your clothes instead of folding them, then place them in vacuum compression bags. To use these bags, put your clothes in, seal the bag, then squeeze the air out. This will leave you with lots more space in your suitcase and prevent creases.
5. Cube your clothes
Another good packing solution is packing cubes: these help separate your items and find things more quickly once you get there. You can find packing cubes on Amazon and other online shops.
6. Fill dead space
When it comes to packing, make use of every inch of suitcase space. Roll tops, underwear, socks and other small items, and stuff them into your shoes to make sure every possible space is filled.
7. Stay fresh
It’s important to keep your clothes smelling fresh, especially if you’re on a long trip. By taking a small bag of potpourri, fabric conditioner sheets or scented drawer liners, you’ll keep your clothes smelling sweet throughout the trip.
How to pack gadgets
8. Get a stash of ziplock bags
How do you usually organise all of your electronics, cables, those fiddly bits that take you ages to dig out at security? Stuff them in like the rest of us? If you want to organise your packing, then get yourself a stash of ziplock bags. Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones: take extra plastic bags (the same ones you’d use for hand luggage liquids) and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket, and car keys), medication and other loose accessories.
And if you love a gadget, then you should check out our top travel accessories, too.
How to pack make-up
9. Use cotton wool
To prevent your pressed powder or eye shadow from cracking during your travels, place a flat cotton wool pad in between the pressed powder and the lid.
How to pack books
10. Actually, don’t
Even if at home you’re a paper-til-I-die sort, save the space and weight for your holiday. Whether it’s that steamy romance novel, thrilling sci-fi or a dog-eared travel guide, download the ebook before your trip. That way you also don’t have to count on wifi to jump back into the story from your perfectly positioned beach chair. Finally, if you’re using an e-reader that’s not your phone, make sure the device has a water-resistant cover.
How to pack valuables to keep them safe
11. In empty bottles and tubes
To avoid the worst case scenario of being robbed, it’s best to be inconspicuous: don’t flash cash or expensive jewellery. If you’re worried about valuable stuff in your hotel room, hide it in an empty sun tan lotion container. You could also use empty lip balm containers to hide rolled up notes. You could also consider getting travel insurance.
How to pack just enough to avoid extra baggage fees
12. Weigh your luggage
Invest in some luggage scales and make sure you weigh your bags on both legs of the journey to see how close you are to reaching the weight limit. If you’re close to the limit, consider wearing some of the heavier items or cutting down on what you pack in the first place.
13. Buy a lightweight suitcase
Don’t assume that buying the most expensive designer suitcase will get you an upgrade. Instead, it’s more likely to attract thieves at the airport and on your travels. It’s better to be inconspicuous and go for a lightweight option. If you’re using a hardshell suitcase, this can add up to four kilos of weight before you’ve even started packing, so expensive isn’t always best.
14. Know your limits
Baggage allowance varies from airline to airline (for example, you can read up all about Ryanair’s cabin baggage allowance here). Make sure you’re aware of your limits before you reach the airport. Some, but not all carriers will allow you to check in two bags, and the weight allowance can vary. Make sure you understand the hand luggage allowance and avoid costly charges at the gate. You might also want to read our hand luggage guide.
How to not lose your luggage
15. Spruce up your suitcase
Don’t be faced with an airport baggage carousel crisis where you’re searching for your luggage amid its identical neighbours. Label your suitcase with luggage tags and give it a bit of a makeover to help spot it in the crowd. Decorate it with ribbons, stickers or even colourful shoelaces so it’s instantly recognisable.
How to cope with lost luggage
16. Make the most out of your hand luggage
No matter how well we decorate our suitcase, sometimes the unthinkable happens. Bags can go missing. Make sure all your valuables are in your hand luggage and always pack a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage too, just in case the worst happens and your checked bag is lost or delayed. That way, you won’t have to rush to the shops as soon as you arrive to buy replacement clothing. But before you go shoving everything in your hand luggage, you might be surprised by some of these unusual items not allowed in your cabin bag.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.