Whether you’re planning to backpack and/or take a flight on your travels, the weight of your luggage can be of primary concern. You don’t want to be lugging a huge rucksack from place to place, and nor do you want to pay extra charges for exceeding your baggage allowance.
In the past, airline carriers used to turn a blind eye to a few extra kilos, but now they can charge up to £80 per bag. An additional problem is that the baggage allowance varies from airline to airline and can change at any time. They might specify according to the dimensions of the luggage, its weight, the number of bags or even a combination of all three. For this reason, it’s important that you check the airline carrier’s policy before you even start your packing.
If you know beforehand that your baggage will be overweight, remember that it’s always cheaper to pay for excess luggage charges in advance. Fees for oversized and/or overweight bags are always higher if you wait till you get to the airport.
Choosing the right travel bag
If they don’t have a metal framework, rucksacks tend to be lighter than suitcases. Whether to take a suitcase or rucksack is a matter of personal preference. The deciding factor is often your destination. If you’re going somewhere with few paved roads, then a backpack will be more convenient. If you opt for a suitcase, then try to use a wheeled one.
If you have older suitcases with a hard case exterior, then it might be worth your while purchasing the newer soft-shell types. Not only is their canvas exterior lighter but suitcase manufacturers now make them to airline size specifications.
As far as hand luggage is concerned, a smaller backpack is ideal. Nowadays, many travellers are using a laptop case instead. This is because it has all the pockets you need for you to conveniently store – and find – documents, tickets, money, etc.
What clothing should you pack for your travels?
You should always pack clothes for the type of activities you’ll be doing while away. For example, if you’re planning to laze by the beach, then formal ‘going-out’ clothes can be kept to a minimum. Don’t worry about wearing the same outfit more than once. People always overestimate how much attention others pay to their appearance anyway.
The key to choosing the right clothes to pack is to always research the climate of your destination (both day and night-time temperatures) and think about which fabrics will keep you warm/cool.
Lay out all the clothes that you intend to take with you on the bed. Don’t pack them in your luggage straightaway – it’s a fact that people are much more reluctant to leave clothes behind when they’ve already been packed. Make sure that separates go with each other – mixing and matching garments in this way can produce a whole new look and enable you to dress up or down according to the occasion.
Any heavier items/materials (such as denim, a jacket/coat, boots/trainers, etc.) should be worn on the journey instead of packed to reduce the weight of your luggage. Also, remember that outer garments like cardigans or jumpers, which aren’t worn close to the skin, can be worn more than once before being washed.
Handwashing or even visiting a launderette is also a possibility while you’re away from home. In warmer destinations, clothes washed in the evening will have dried by morning.
Packing other travel essentials
Of course, you want to look your best while you’re away but do you really need all those beauty accessories? It might be time to leave the hairdryer, hair straightener, etc. at home and embrace the natural look. Alternatively, if you’re travelling in a group, you could take one of each and share them.
Shower and beauty care products can also make your luggage much heavier. If you don’t want to purchase them at your travel destination, you could buy travel-sized bottles. A body spray is also much lighter than a bottle of perfume and could be left behind when you return home.
Books are another item which can make your luggage much heavier. Instead of taking a travel guide with you, you should download the E-version onto your mobile. You can also use your phone to keep abreast of current affairs and finance news in online newspapers.
Holidays are a relaxing time to catch up on all those bestsellers that you never get around to reading at home. It might be worth investing in a portable device so you can read everything digitally. If you prefer the physical sensation of holding a book, many popular resorts have second-hand book shops or hotels keep a bookcase of books left behind by previous guests. This means that you won’t need to pack more than a few paperbacks.
Packing your luggage
Once you have selected the essentials for your trip, clothes should be rolled rather than folded. These cylindrical shapes allow you to take advantage of every bit of space in your case. Don’t forget the old travellers’ tip of stuffing footwear with smaller items such as socks.
Always weigh your luggage beforehand and never go right up to your weight allowance. You never know how accurate your scales at home might be. Leaving a few kilos spare will also allow you to bring home a few souvenirs.
Once you have discarded any items you no longer need, your luggage should be lighter on your return journey – even allowing for your souvenir-hunting and/or duty-free.
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