Four days before:
Great holidays start with great preparation, so we suggest you start planning what to take on holiday four days before take-off. Otherwise, by the time you actually need to start packing, you’ll be astounded to find out that the aspirin which was always in your bedroom drawer isn’t there any more and that packet of plasters has been missing since last summer.
It may sound obvious, but the key to successful packing is to calculate your suitcase contents based on the amount of days and type of activities you’re planning. Define your journey by its purpose – beach, sightseeing, business, city break? – and allow items for that purpose 80% of your total suitcase space, leaving the remaining 20% for any additional clothes that will complement the core wardrobe.
Write a list of things required on the journey: start with essentials like medication, crèmes and other things your life would be incomplete without. Don’t skip ‘unimportant’ elements such as T-shirts and underwear – those will be the ones you’ll miss most if you leave them behind.
Four days in advance is a safe period to try on your summer clothes, allowing extra time to replace or correct sizes, shapes and forms. It is also advisable to lighten your diet, as your body will go through the stress of having to adjust to a different time zone, cuisine and, for many travellers, a different side of the world.
Two days before:
Do some simple maths: calculate how many times a day you’re anticipating changing clothes. Based on three changes per day, a woman requires a dress, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts/skirt and two T-shirts.
Combine them together and leave one out: the thoughtful wardrobe doesn’t have to be full. Take plenty of basics, like tops, plain jeans and jackets: you’ll thank yourself later for the ease of styling simple clothes.
Plan a number of going-out outfits, including a pair of shoes. The dress code for hotels, dinners and bars can be unpredictable.
One day before:
Decide whether you want to roll or fold: it’s generally suggested that rolling takes less space, but this depends on fabrics. Put the heaviest clothes in the bottom of the suitcase: pack your T-shirts, jeans and blouses in carrier bags, then gently press the air out of each package. This creates the effect of a vacuum-packed bag, making extra space.
Use space wisely: if you have a pair of fragile shoes, fill them with socks or make-up – this will keep the shoes in shape, as well as using the space within them.
Pack all potentially leaky make-up into a plastic-lined wash bag. If that takes up too much space, sort the liquids from solids and put the latter in the space between clothes. Wrap bottles in plastic or bags, seal them tightly and put in the corners of the suitcase.
Leave some extra space for shopping and souvenirs. The general rule of the universe is that dirty clothes take up more space, so plan your shopping ahead, and remember that there will always be some impulse purchases to fit in.
Don’t pack hats or any other headgear. It’s easier and cheaper to buy them locally in Australia: panamas, for example, are very fragile, so they are unlikely to reach your destination intact.
On the day:
Go the airport!