Leave the gun, take the cannoli. Whatever Godfather meant must have a ring of truth somewhere
May be there’s another way to step out without all those squats.
Try these methods the next time you find yourself staring at a pile of travel stuff and a ferocious-looking suitcase.
First things first, check out your scope and limits as per the mode of transport. How much can you carry? Anything that won’t be allowed? Can you save yourself the embarrassment and hassle of rummaging out unnecessary stuff from the pits of a well-packed suitcase because the airline does not allow you to carry it? Divide your clothes, necessary items and other incidentals smartly between check-in and carry-on luggage. Also, put an extra shirt or essential wear in your carry-on in the (not so improbable these days) event of your luggage getting caught in an airline goof-up and arriving two days after you land somewhere.
Things that seem essential are often otherwise and vice versa. You may feel handicapped without your DSLR or favourite jacket or perfume but that’s no excuse for forgetting to slip in a small bar of travel soap or a plastic spoon or a tooth brush or a pair of slippers. Tiny things can make you the most uncomfortable when they are absent. So don’t forget to leave that charger or hand towel behind.
Buy travel-friendly luggage the next time you have to. If it’s a hard-shell one, it will add to the travel weight even before the packing starts but it has to be reasonably sturdy too. It should align with the regular dimensions allowed inside airlines or trains, specially for cabin-luggage. If it has compartments, great. You can use them to segregate clothing from food or cosmetics.
It may look stylish but it also has to have wheels for ease of handling. Again, that does not mean that it should not have a rugged handle in case the wheels jam the last minute or simply fall off. You have no idea how many things can go wrong at the last minute when you are dashing breathlessly towards a flight gate or bumping into fellow travellers ascending and descending staircases on a train station.
Find out what might be available and required at your destination. Would you need woollens or an umbrella? Invest in portable versions of a tea kettle, a travel iron, first-aid box etc. in any case. Don’t assume that everything would be there just because the images on the website convey so.
Use hotel disposables like laundry bags, shower caps etc. to pack items like spare T-shirts or delicates or foot-wear. You can use tissue paper for delicate clothing items. Never stack shoes or documents one upon the other. Spread them out.
For clothing – pack your light clothes inside out to avoid stains; stick to rolling clothes as that saves space as well as saves you from tackling creases; tuck a small bar of soap or a pot pourri petal to keep them smelling fresh; bundle two items together for extra cushion and space (you can put half of a pair of trousers or shirt on top of the other and then fold the first on the bottom over another one which then rolls over on the top).
You may also try Judith Guilford’s bundle approach to make a bundle or pillow of all your clothes together starting with the most wrinkle-prone item at the first, and laying over other clothes one by one, putting a core in the centre and then folding the items over this core. This will result in a one-stack compact bundle without any crease risks.
Look at space with a smart X-ray eye. Pack in cubes, use every inch possible, roll small items inside that mug or glass or shoe that you have to carry anyway, avoid dead space at all costs.
For electronics and those miscellaneous liquids, invest in good zip lock bags. This small step will not only make them more easily accessible when needed but would also help you with speed during security checks. You may also want to spend an extra minute on cling-bags and tape to seal liquid bottles like shower gel or shampoo from spilling all over.
Just apply what works best as per your mindset, space available and the list of your essentials. That soft toy might be as much of an essential item for your kid as a laptop is for a business traveller.
No matter what you pack and how you pack, just do not forget to carry those tickets and that passport. And a smile.