Dec 28, 2015

Traveller’s Guide to Practical Packing: Part 1 + free download

Written and illustrated by Emmi Ojala, originally published in Square1 Magazine. Check their website to find lots of interesting articles on sustainable style (mostly in Dutch)!

Most of us travel, some less, some more. Most of us have also sat, jump and performed acrobatics on top of our suitcases whilst trying to zip them up. Every time we travel, we tend to drag at least a few extra kilos with us, because we are not very conscious packers or just “can’t” know in advance what we might want to wear during our travels.

If packing your whole closet with you will make you happy, go ahead and do that! However, the chances are that the heavy bag will end up causing only less than cheerful feelings. Been there, done that! I used to fill my bag with multiple outfits, accompanied by multiple options for shoes and a few garments that had never fitted me nor my style, but in my mind had potential to fit the picturesque setting of my destination.

Those days are over now, as this year I was given the ultimate lesson in practical packing, a challenge called Five Weeks, One Bag, One Wedding, One Beach Vacation And Another One In The Chilly North. Basically, I had five weeks, during which I needed to be prepared for everything except snow. Having learned a thing or two from my previous packing disasters, I decided to pack as lightly as possible, bringing only the things that I would really need. To do that, I followed these steps:

1. Break your trip into parts according to locations and occasions.
In my case, the list looked like this: a summery holiday in the South, autumny vacation in the North and a wedding.

2. List the items you will definitely need for each part of your holiday.
For example, my list for a holiday in the South looked like this:
  • 1 bikini 
  • 1 pair of shorts 
  • 3 Tshirts 
  • 2 casual dresses; one that can handle sand, sweat and dust, another fancier one for dinners and such. 
  • flat shoes 
  • 1 medium bag that can fit sunscreen, water and a wallet. 
  • 1 big scarf for sun protection and chilly evenings 
  • 1 tank top 
  • 1 pair of jeans 
  • 1 pullover 
  • 1 cardigan 
  • 1 pair of sneakers 

3. Read through your list. If you come across an item that has already been mentioned, cross it out. Try to spot chances to replace two similar items with a one multifunctional garment that would fit both purposes.
I had three dresses on my list: one dress for the wedding and two casual dresses for the summery holiday (one that could handle sand, sweat and dust and another fancier one for evenings out). By choosing a dress that could be dressed up or down easily, I ended up using the same dress for the wedding and fancier occasions on the holiday.By following these steps, I survived through the whole five week journey with a bag that was two kilos lighter than my bag for a one week trip used to be. There were a few occasions when everything didn’t go according to plans and I had to face the pitfalls of travelling lightly, but I’ll tell you all about that in part 2!

Do you have some tips for packing lightly?
Download your own practical packing list here!