Some ideas…

So, how do you go about wisepacking?

Think about your last few trips. 

How much stuff did you take with on your travels? 

Did everything get used or worn? 

Did you need to take all of those toiletries or could you buy them locally?  

Did you need the smartphone/tablet/laptop/DSLR camera? 

The snacks/tea bags/Marmite/Branston Pickle or Hob Nobs? 

The towels from home, all of those tops and did you really need all of those pairs of shoes? 

Was it easy to get the zips or the lid of your bag/holdall/suitcase done up? 

Or was it problematical?

Take a pen and a notepad, think about your usual packing list and then write it all down. 

Was it a short list, long list or excessive? If it’s long or excessive, then think of ways that you could cut down on what you take with you. 

Some decisions regarding what you take with you may be forced upon you if you’re taking hold luggage and the airline has a 15kg allowance rather than a 20kg allowance. 

Or if the charge for a bag in the hold is higher than the cost of the flight on a low-cost airline.

Myself and partner Caroline have refined our packing over a number of years. We’ve checked into five star hotels carrying a briefcase style bag for our overnight and still adhered to the hotel’s dress code. 

Our main holiday last year used a mix of guest houses, hotels, Pousadas, a youth hostel and a night in Lisbon airport, yet our packing coped with everything apart from the lack of comfy chairs in Lisbon airport…

Although TAP gave us a hold luggage option for nowt, we flew hand luggage only using a brace of Osprey Farpoint 40 travel packs that we’d bought earlier in the year. 

The clothes chosen for the trip reflected the weather predictions and the accommodation mix and whilst there was an element of wash and wear involved, we travelled with bags that weighed in at 6kg or thereabouts.

Yes, we started off with a pile of clothes, footwear and tech when we began to pack, but as the packing went on, the process was refined and clothing and oddments were left behind. 

We flew out wearing the heaviest clothing and footwear, so that the bags contained a few t-shirts, spare trousers in my case, capri pants and dress in Caroline’s plus respective socks/underwear, travel wash, a small amount of toiletries (shower gel, body sprays and razors were bought in-country), beach shoes/sandals and a little tech. Oh and my post-stroke meds too.

Tech items were kept to a minimum – we both took our Kindles and our digital compact cameras plus respective chargers. Caroline took her smartphone along and I left mine at home. And that was it… 

Email was checked out on the lobby computers in a couple of hotels, but we didn’t miss daily computer checks. Caroline received a couple of texts from her son and whilst we tried to use the phone once or twice, it didn’t work out there so we ended up using a hotel phone and talking to people instead… 

The one last minute addition to my bag was the paper Lonely Planet guide. Surprised? I’d tried using a couple of eBook guides on my Kindle before setting off and wasn’t too happy with the experience, so I packed the book instead. It was much easier to use when needed and didn’t rely upon being charged up or needing wi-fi to work either.

I did however notice one lady carrying sections of a cannibalised LP guide in Tavira Tourist Information and others with photocopied sections of the LP or other guidebooks. The way forward? Quite possibly…

Did we use everything we packed? Yes.

Did we pack anything that was surplus to requirements? No.

Were we a bit smug at times? Er, we might have been…

Did we get around easier than those sporting big wheelie bags? Yes.

Did we pay for any luggage going in the boot of a taxi? No.

Did we use any taxis apart from the one into Lisbon from the airport? No – we walked and saved the money for a cold beer or an espresso instead.

So what did we take with us? That’s where the next few posts come in!

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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