The first time I met my friend Ute was on a trip overseas. One of the first thing she told me was "I usually have the smallest suitcase" and that she felt a little triumph about that. I can't ever profess to have the smallest suitcase; mine was once dubbed "the mothership" and topped out at 28kgs but I was away for a month. Still, packing and luggage is always the bane of the traveller. And as it's coming up to the big holiday travelling time I thought I'd share and ask you for your best packing tips! Oh and Dear Reader, I always pack the night before. Because once I didn't and I completely forgot to bring shoes...
1. Non crumpling dress
I'll admit that my one non crumple dress does crumple slightly but since it is dark navy, I convince myself that nobody can tell. Or at least they can but aren't rude enough to say so.
**2. Other Clothing **
Leggings and stockings: The weather being as it is is changeable and I loathe being cold. Leggings are good for an extra layer or if you are visiting a mosque or similarly conservative places.
Belts and box of jewelery: I bring a small box or pouch of costume statement rings and bracelets. Also I don't tend to wear them on the flight as you'll inevitably set off the alarm and that's embarrassing.
Shoes: flats are a must and I have to confess I wear thongs or flip flops because when your feet and legs swell from walking and travel, these are more forgiving. But I always pack high heels, usually black heels or metallic heels as they're both versatile and necessary if you are going out to somewhere fancy.
Pashmima: Fancy word for wrap. Like a threwwww for your cooouch but for your shhhhoulllderrrs (that was a Kath & Kim joke, please tell me someone got it :P).
I think everyone tends to carry headache tablets and ibuprofin etc but during the flight, I find it helpful to combat the conditions of inside an aircraft. Flights are still going to dry you out and make you look as though you've been dragged backwards through a bush (I pinched that from Lisa Vanderpump). On flights I don't drink alcohol - maybe just a sip of champagne if I'm lucky enough to be travelling business class. But otherwise it's a Virgin Mary for me and lots of liquids. But lips and skin also need moisturising as do your nasal passages.
I always carry a spray pump of nasal spray (the Fuss one with aloe vera seems to do the trick, I was advised against getting the regular one without aloe vera). It also stops you getting colds and infections. If you do have a blocked nose or sinus due to the Arctic conditions during the flight, Sudafed nasal spray helps too. I'm not being paid to advertise either but they are indispensable when your head feels like it will explode and you are 30,000 feet in the air.
I'm not sure why the hotel name brands are that strange sort of unisex fragrance that ends up smelling like men's after shave or why the body lotion is as thick as water but if there is a brand that I like, then they are worth taking with you just in case you are faced with the dreaded 2 in 1 shampoo combo elsewhere. I know 2 in 1s are definitely a first world problem but my hair won't listen to reason. I've tried talking to it to no avail.
I know it sounds vain but after a long haul flight and I had given myself a good fright by looking at myself under the fluorescent plane lights, I can see my skin dehydrating in front of me like a True Blood faery having the life drained out of it. On the first evening when I land, I use a cleanser, exfoliant and a masque and try and look human again. Same with slathering on a lot of hand cream and lip balm. Tip: the best lip balm is Laura Mercier's Lip Silk-it helps peel off dead layers of skin on the lips and if you have flakey bits of skin on your nose from blowing it, it stops them. Gross, but true.
5. Ear plugs & noise cancelling headphones
I am a terribly light sleeper (I worry about being strangled while I sleep) and ear plugs are a must for me every night but especially when travelling. Hotels are noisy, you may have noisy neighbours and your room itself might be noisy as fridges and air conditioning systems can have that electric buzzing noise . Not to mention in flight - the last long haul flight I was on, I was sitting two rows behind a baby that emitted an ear piercing scream every 10 minutes for about 6 hours. Oh how I wished they have given out ear plugs...and on long flights over five hours, I bring noise cancelling headphones. I tested about 6 of them for a review and the ear bud ones were pretty much useless. You definitely want the ones that create a cushion seal around your ears.
Grab a few of these forms when you go in because it will speed up the queues at immigration.
8. Big Zip lock bags
Is this random? Zip lock bags are the greatest invention ever and not only do they keep everything separate (well yeah, it's a bag), you can double insure that any liquids that you have wrapped in socks, clothes etc won't leak on the rest of your clothes. I always stuff a half dozen of these in every trip after having a beautiful but sticky bottle of framboise spill all over our clothes. And if you buy as much food as I tend to, put them all in one or two zip locks near the top of your checked luggage so if customs stops you, you won't have to go through everything including your underwear collection which can prove just so unnecessarily embarrassing...
9. Underwear cloth bag
This was borne out of the above situation.
10. The heavy equipment...and the not so heavy stuff
Some people assume that my luggage is made up of makeup and clothes because I tend to wear a lot of make up. But really, a lot of the weight is made up with a laptop, phone, iPad and two cameras with 3 lenses and a tripod which weighs it down a lot. On the other end of the weight spectrum, the tiny Pentax Q camera (which was sent for review) is small and light enough to fit in a handbag. It goes to a 6400ISO, takes videos and has interchangeable lenses and I always carry this as a back up because it's light enough to carry everywhere. It's great for getting photos inside the cabin when doing airline reviews and it's so tiny that it even fits in one of the zip compartments in my luggage! Which is more than I can say for the massive DSLRs...
So tell me Dear Reader, what are you packing tips? What have I missed?