I've Already Flown 8 Times This Year—I Now Know to Avoid These Packing Mistakes

Having spent the last eight years flying back and forth between London and Scotland, where most of my family and friends resided, I’ve required the use for air-travel more than I care to admit—particularly given the planet’s current ecological climate. So much so, it was one of the mitigating factors that convinced to move back to my homeland. However, one upside of my former nomadic state of being is that I’ve become a bit of a dab-hand at packing; in fact, my inner circle refer to it as the Tetris technique. As I honed said technique, the size of my suitcase gradually became smaller. Now, I can pack everything I need for a four-day trip in a backpack—makeup and all. 

To do this, everything I pack has to fall into one of three categories. If it isn’t practical, versatile or essential, it isn’t coming along for the ride. I’ve also learnt to utilise my plane outfit to its full potential, too—get your travel attire right and it can save you ample packing space in the process. So whether you’re getting ready for a two-night break or are about to embark on a far-flung, multiweek getaway, follow my simple rules and you'll avoid making these packing mistakes. 

Don’t pack: Miscellaneous Items  
Instead pack: Planned Outfits

I always tend to shop in outfits and, as such, I pack in outfits, too. It might sound like a chore, but taking the time to try on every outfit you intend on wearing during your trip will allow you to eliminate the temptation to add things to your suitcase as you go. Not only will this make more room in your suitcase, but you’ll head off armed with the knowledge that you’re going to feel great in everything you wear. Here’s an example of the sort of outfit I’ll be packing:

Don’t Pack: Lots of Bags
Instead Pack: Key Bag Styles

Similarly with shoes, I’ve found I only really need three types of handbags with me on any trip. I usually use my biggest—likely a straw tote—to hold my hand luggage. Then, in my case, I ensure I have a chic shoulder bag for dinners out. Finally, I always take a handy net-bag when I travel, too—it’s perfect for lugging your towels around in, or for picking up strawberries and prosecco from the local supermarket. 

Don’t Pack: Bulky Jackets
Instead Pack: More Separates and Wear Your Jacket

I never understand why people arrive at the airport dressed like they’re already at their exotic destination. Planes can be notoriously cold, and, if you’re flying long-haul, you’ll likely want to snooze at some point. Instead of packing a jacket, which will take up vital space in your suitcase, I suggest wearing it on the plane, allowing it to double-up as a blanket, and using the room saved for more vital things. As for which jacket I recommend taking, it has to be a khaki green utility style. In my experience, I’ve found there’s nothing it won’t go with.

Don't Pack: One-Use Shoes
Instead Pack: Versatile Shoes

If you’re travelling in summer, I honestly believe that you only need three pairs of shoes to go with any outfit. I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way—once, I packed 12 pairs of shoes for a 14-night holiday in Mexico, only to be met with a hefty additional luggage charge when I got to the airport. Now, the shoes I ensure I pack are flat tan sandals, a pair of white canvas trainers, and some black mid-heel shoes. The black shoes will effortlessly dress up jeans, the plimsoles will give a cool spin to pretty dresses, and the tan sandals—well, they’ll go with everything. 

 

Don’t Pack: Excessive Denim
Instead Pack: Classic Jeans

If, like me, you live in jeans, then chances are you’ll be tempted to pack several pairs for your break. However, as they take up so much room in your suitcase, I suggest taking two pairs you know you love and will go with everything else you take with you. Depending on the length of the flight, you can even wear one of your pairs on the plane. Then, once they’ve inevitably been stretched out, you’ll have your back-ups on standby.

Don’t Pack: Full-Size Toiletries
Instead Pack: Travel-Size Versions

That full-sized hair serum and toothpaste tube may not look like much on their own, but when you end up packing more full-size toiletries, they start to take up a lot of space and also add up in weight. Not to mention the fact that, if you’re taking hand-luggage only, you’ll be restricted to 100ml an item. I recommend investing in the travel-size versions of the products you use regularly and then you’ll have them to hand every time you travel. Keep the packaging when they run out, too, so you can top them up from your full-size bottles and tubs. 

Don’t Pack: Back-Up Clothes
Instead Pack: Pyjamas and Workout Gear

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to take pyjamas with me when travelling; now I ensure I always have them with me instead of taking additional tops and dresses I know I just won’t wear. The same goes for workout clothes—if my hotel has a gym, I at least want the option of using (looking at) it…