I might meet the King, trek over a big mountain, get stranded on a deserted island—all of the what ifs and maybes will thwart your bag packing for your next big holiday. Reality is a bitch, as are luggage size and weight restrictions for those who want to take everything but their kitchen sink on a holiday with them.

Packing a bag that’s light and still contains enough for a couple of weeks of blissful adventure is an art form. The ‘what if’ characters of the world arrive back home with stretched arms and cranky tales caused by pulling that wheelie bag stuffed with unused items and clothes that they didn’t need to pack in the first place. Their grouchy stories abound: taking too long at customs as the officers check every nook and cranny of the bulging bag, collecting one bag at the luggage carousel but having to wait another half an hour for the second bag, not being able to walk quickly through an airport terminal dragging ten tons, causing a ruckus trying to squish a bag into an already stuffed overhead locker, mean taxi drivers that don't help to put heavy luggage in the boot of the car—traveling is hard work for the 'what ifs.'

Instead, be as light as a fairy and skip around the globe with a grin on your face by following a few tips:

Overpacking? Nah, What If - The Wise Traveller - Guy packing a suitcase


Everyone tends to overpack clothes. Get real with your wardrobe and consider the number of days, the weather, the main activity of your holiday, the fact that hotels do laundry, and do you really need that one fantastic outfit for the off-chance (improbable) meeting with the King? Do you really expect to go to the hotel gym every morning, or are you packing your workout gear just in case you feel like it? Consider that if you are moving around on your holiday, no one will know that you may be wearing the same outfit as the day before or the day before that. Be diligent about washing your undies each night when you shower—unless you are into wearing them five different ways before they deserve a washing. Also, consider the fabric of the packed clothes—certain fabrics take up more space and take longer to dry if you need to wash them. And pack clothes that can be layered rather than stand-alone items for when the weather conditions change.


We all love shoes, but going on holiday is not the time to show off your fabulous shoe fetish. It's all about being practical with a capital P. Only pack hiking boots if you are going hiking for most of your holiday—better yet, wear them on the flight to save space in your luggage. Those high and sparkly Louboutin killer heels must stay home unless you plan on strutting your stuff on the Vogue World runway. Take classy sneakers that will carry you from meandering a city during the day to out at night, or boots if you are heading to a cold climate. You can always buy flip-flops wherever you are, and remember, a beach holiday is about barefoot indulgence. Never take more than 3 pairs of shoes; ensure you stuff them with small items to save space.


Wear it on the plane if it won’t fold or scrunch up to be put in your luggage—better yet, buy a hat at your destination.

Makeup and extra Toiletries

Females are notorious for taking too much makeup—only the basics should be packed, preferably in sample or travel size. Again, if you need something special or replenish what you have, buy it when you land. Females should check whether the country they are going to has a tampon tax. If this is the case, do take extra, as a menstrual cycle may cost you more than your accommodation!

Jewelry and Valuables

Keep it simple and leave your bling at home with your expensive camera unless you are a photography nut or it's your profession. You will only stand out in a crowd and attract opportunistic thieves to notice you.


Remember, for every gadget you take, there will be add-ons, such as its charger and cable, that all take up space. Limit the tech you need to survive as you are on holiday and should be in the moment, not head down, leering at a screen.

Overpacking? Nah, What If - The Wise Traveller - Packing Camera and Toiletries

A Pillow

Suck it up—hotels have pillow menus, planes/trains have complimentary pillows if asked for. It may not be your Hungarian Goose Down pillow at home, but do you really want the hassle of packing or carrying your pillow around like a thumb-sucking child.

Single Occasion Dressing

Unless you are meeting royalty at an invite-only function of VIPs and celebrities, forget it! If you have to glam-up for a particular destination event, ensure that the clothes you take can be worn more than at the event itself—unless you are a bride or groom.

The best part of packing light is that you have plenty of room to take home your splurge shopping items without paying excess baggage fees.

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.