8 Essential Packing And Luggage Tips: The MOST Comprehensive guide

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Hello…

And welcome to guide 5 of our travel planning series, everything you need to know about packing and luggage for all your travels. If you are new here, check out our Travel series summary showing you all the guides in this series.

The time has come, will you be dusting off your old luggage or investing in some new ones? What is the best way to pack? How much does your baggage weigh? With so much to think about packing can easily become a chore. In this post, we help you answer these questions and more. With a little planning and organizing, packing can become a fun part of your trip countdown.

What we have covered

A few points in this post are specific to the UK but they can be used to guide you wherever you call home. All the links we have included are from sources that we use and highly recommend. They are reliable, up to date, and in our view awesome.

So here we go, let us help you !

Baggage allowance

You will need to take your luggage and baggage to the baggage check in desk at the airport.


Baggage allowances play a huge role in the packing and luggage process when traveling by airplane. As it decides how much you can take away with you. Check your airline baggage allowances before you book. Limits are different depending on the airline, flight time, origin, destination, and class.

Your baggage allowance usually depends on the ticket you purchase. It might be included in the price or you may have to buy it separately. If so, it is better to buy at the time of booking your ticket as it usually costs a lot more on the day of your flight. If you want to take extra baggage you can for a cost, again it is best to buy this when you book your flight.

Make a note of the weight and size of your checked and carry-on limits at the time of your booking. Then you can get to these numbers quickly when you come to packing. Allowances are normally listed in kilograms (kg) and centimeters (cm). If your baggage is too heavy or too big it is classed as “excess baggage” and you will get charged extra at the airport.

If you have booked more than one flight for your journey, make a note of the limits of each flight and airline and pack accordingly.

Luggage or baggage

Luggage or baggage, checked or hold, hand, carry-on or cabin? Being easily confused, we came up with the following to try get our head around it.

  • Luggage: is a suitcase or bag.
  • Baggage: is luggage with your stuff packed into it.
  • Checked: is your main baggage that has been “checked-in” and stored in the plane’s “hold”.
  • Carry-on: is baggage taken by hand into the cabin and stored in the overhead.
  • The personal item: for example, a handbag or small laptop. Usually, these can be taken into the cabin, for free, but must be small enough to fit under the seat. And again, rules will be different with each airline.

Luggage


From suitcases to bags and backpacks, with or without wheels, hard-sided or soft-sided, we are spoilt for choice when choosing luggage. We want luggage that is efficient, good value, durable, easy to use, and suitable for all types of trips as luggage plays a big part. Our wish list is below. You may have more ideas, please do share.

Type

  • Medium/large suitcases for checked baggage x 2
  • Small suitcases for carry-on baggage x 2
  • Small backpacks/day packs as personal items to fit under seat x 2

Hard or soft sided

We like the idea of hard-sided suitcases for are luggage when packing as they are easier to clean and less likely to be damaged so could last longer.

Colour

Although we prefer greys and blacks, we are open to something bolder. This has the added benefit of standing out when waiting at baggage collection. And less chance of going off with someone else’s bag, yes, we have done this.

Size

Dimensions (length, height, width) come into play for carry-on and personal items. Personal items need to be small enough to fit under the seat, 36 inches, and carry-on is 45 inches. This is the maximum total dimension (the sum of all three dimensions above).

Check the airline’s limits, as annoyingly they change regularly. Worst possible case, excuse the pun, your carry-on and personal item are too big, the airline will then charge you to put in the hold. If you can, make your personal item small enough so that it can fit into your carry-on if needed.   

Wheels

For ease we like the idea of 4 wheels as they do not need to be tilted to move with you. And, they usually spin, and that is just fun.

Handles

Telescopic all the way. The handle extends meaning you can pull the case with minimal effort.

Warranty

Most reputable brands offer a warranty that cover any fault caused by defective workmanship or material, which is a bonus.

Find your luggage

Go to a reputable retailer’s website and filter options by your wish list. And read the customers reviews to find the best luggage for you.

Value

Luggage can often be an expensive but worthwhile investment. To get the best price available search your chosen luggage in google to see where you can find it cheapest.

If you are buying directly from the brand, they often have voucher codes available if you sign up for their newsletter. Or you can check sites like Voucher Codes for any live deals. And cashback sites like TopCashback can offer you cashback on your purchase.

Sometimes your luggage may be cheaper with other retailers than buying direct from the brand. If so, you can look for voucher codes and cashback deals for that retailer too.

Using these tips could save you anywhere between 5% to 20% off the price, possibly more when buying over sales events such as Black Friday. Often you can also find free delivery codes too. All this is extra money for you to put in the savings pot for your travels.

What to pack

Think about everything you will need to pack as this will determine what type of luggage you need.

You have your luggage and you know your baggage allowances. It is now time to start packing. Before you end up as packing haters the following packing and luggage tips may help.

Weather

Living in the UK it can often be tricky working out what to wear. You might start the day in shorts and flip flops and end it in your coat and boots. Luckily, this is not always the case at our favorite travel destinations. Although it is worth a check. What is the weather like at your destination? What is the forecast when you are there? You can usually and quite accurately, check 2 weeks before you leave. Check out the Met Office for predicted weather at your destination.

The weather may affect the type of clothes you pack and how much your luggage will weigh. If the forecast has given warm weather for your trip you might be able to pack light items. But if the weather looks mixed then you will have to pack for all eventualities. Some bulkier items may be needed. 

We always pack a warm jumper and fluffy socks no matter where we go. Just in case, if not for the air con alone. If you are taking bulkier items such as a coat, or a jumper, wear it on the plane. Not only will it free up some space and reduce the weight of your checked baggage, but it will work as an extra way of keeping warm on the flight.

Activities

What kind of activities will you be doing? If you plan on spending most of your time by the beach you might get away with packing less. But if you plan on doing activities such as fishing or hiking, you may need more comfortable clothes. And ones that you can get dirty and wet. Though packing some active wear may come in handy for those spontaneous activities.

Minimise

Another great tip for packing and luggage is to look to minimize your packing. Plan and think about what items you need. Think about ways to double up on items. Sandles you can wear at the beach and for a meal. And do you need a smartphone, tablet, kindle, and laptop? Minimizing not only simplifies packing but will save you time and space in your baggage. And it is less to wash and iron when you come home, result.

Spares

To contradict the minimising point above, packing a few spares cannot hurt. Think underwear, socks, and a spare t-shirt though. Not another jacket or an extra pair of high heels.

Tote bags

Packing a few tote bags will come in handy. Whether that is for any souvenir shopping, to store your dirty clothes at your accommodation, or to separate dirty clothes from clean in your luggage. They are small and weigh practically nothing and can be packed in your personal items. Useful for airport shopping too.

Toiletries

When travelling we use clear toiletry bags. These are great as they are waterproof which stop spillages and being see through makes it easier to find your stuff.

Make a packing list

Once you have taken the above into consideration write your packing list. Good for insurance purposes and for you when you forget what you packed. And remember less is more.

Taking a picture

Take a picture of all your stuff before you pack it in your luggage for travel insurance purposes.


Another great tip with your packing and luggage is when getting all your things together to pack take a photo. Lay all the items on your bed, or floor, from your shoes to your phone, and take a picture of it all. By doing this you have a physical log of every item you are taking with you. This is useful if anything gets lost or damaged and you need to claim on your travel insurance.

Take separate pictures of any valuables and store their receipts away before you leave, make copies, and save them. If you are ever in the unfortunate situation where you need to make an insurance claim, you will then have all receipts to hand. This makes the whole process a lot easier. Also, check with your insurance that any single item limit covers the valuables you are wanting to take. If not, you may need to buy more insurance for those items. See our Ultimate guide to travel essentials for more details.

Saving space

A few tips to help you save space in your luggage:

  • Packing socks and underwear inside your shoes
  • Use travel-sized bottles for toiletries
  • Buy larger toiletries at your destination
  • Use a glasses case to store small items

Packing cubes

Packing cubes have become increasingly popular. Not only can they maximize space, but they are great for organizing your clothes. They even make them for shoes. They make getting to your clothes easier and faster. Removing the need to dig through your luggage. You can even pack whole outfits into them. Handy if you are moving to different destinations on your trip.

The Ranger Roll

Another great space-saving tip is the Ranger Roll. We do this and it helps maximize the space you have. It even helps to keep your clothes wrinkle-free. It does take a bit of practice but is worth the time. If you’re interested in learning this technique check out this 4-minute video on YouTube here.

Heathrow airport has a useful video too with advice on packing from cabin crew. This can been viewed on YouTube here.

What to pack where

There are the airlines rules to think about too. Check with your airline before you pack. For UK government advice on what you can pack and where to pack it see here.

Final checks

Weighing your luggage

When your luggage is packed you can weigh it at home using luggage scales. This way you know that you will not be over your baggage allowance when you check in at the airport.

Security

Security is key, pun intended. Most suitcases now come with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved anti-theft safety locks. If not, you can buy TSA approved locks that clip easily onto zips. These locks help keep your things safe acting as deterrents. They are also good when using your luggage to store larger valuables at your accommodation.           

There are other small precautions you can take to give yourself that extra level of security:

  • Always keep your baggage insight
  • Keep all valuables and important documents in your personal item or carry-on. There is a range of travel holders available that keep your documents safe and easily accessible.
  • A luggage tag can come in handy. As it will make it easier for someone to contact you if anything goes wrong. 

Souvenirs

Post souvenirs home if you can't fit them in your luggage.

This packing and luggage tip can be super helpful If you plan on making some larger purchases, you can post it home. Some shops may do this for you. If not, or if you have a few souvenirs to send, you can do so in one package. Your accommodation should be able to advise you about this. If you send it by sea it will normally take longer, but it will be cheaper than by air.

Sending your souvenirs by post may be better value than paying the extra airline baggage fees too. And you will not have to lug it around with you throughout your trip.

Unpacking

Make sure you unpack your luggage straight away when you get home.

On your trip

When you arrive at your accommodation will you be able to unpack completely? Or, will you be moving to different destinations on your trip? If you are staying in one place get unpacked as soon as possible and get settled in. If you will be on the move pack strategically using packing cubes. Or, pack outfits into separate bags or sections for each leg of your trip. This will save you time and energy when on the go.

If you can, pack all your worn clothes in a bag separate to any clean clothes you have left. That way when you get home you can put all your clean clothes away and your dirty ones straight in the wash.

At home

Once home unpack as soon as possible. Unpacking is a big fat chore but the longer it is left to linger the harder it becomes to face. Taking the 20 minutes or so to do it straight away will make you feel so much better. If you are like us and order a takeaway when you get home, maybe you can do it while you wait for your tea. Plus, if you have been organized and minimalist in your packing, unpacking becomes a lot easier.

Serendipitous Tip

After arriving at a destination and our bags not ending up in the same airport as us, or even in the same country, we use this tip religiously.

A great packing and luggage tip is to pack a couple of spare outfits along with nightwear inside your carry-on or in your personal item. And if wanted some toiletries too, in keeping with airline rules. If your checked baggage gets sent to another airport you will have some clean clothes with you, until the airline can locate and return your baggage. If you have checked in more than one bag you can also split your clothes equally between them.

Next steps

So there it is all of our best packing and luggage tips tricks and more. Now you know all about packing, luggage, and baggage. The next steps in our Travel planning series are our 11 Things You Need To Know Before Your Next Travel.

For all our guides in the series see our Travel planning series summary.

Thank you for reading

We hope you found it valuable. Our site and its content are for you our readers, and as such your comments are welcomed and appreciated. If you have any suggestions for future topics and content, please do share them with us.

#Travel with Serendipity

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