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How to pack lightly

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Whether you're travelling with kids to a hotel for the first time or backpacking the globe, our tips on how to pack lightly will help you enjoy hassle-free holidays.

How do I stop myself taking my whole wardrobe?

Don’t pack for every freakish eventuality, pack with your destination in mind. If you're heading where the summers are always dry, don’t take a rain jacket – if it does rain, you can always buy a cheap one when you’re there.

What’s the best way to make a list?

Make your list without thinking about the actual items you’ll take. Decide how many tops you need, not that you must take ‘that black top with the sequins’. Then pick your favourites, and don’t try to squeeze in any extras.

How do I choose which clothes to take?

Choose a color scheme so you can mix and match staples. Non-crease, versatile clothing that dries quickly is ideal. Be selective - choose just one perfume and favourite pair of shoes and leave the rest behind. Think about what you’ll really be doing on the trip. If you'll be exploring a city on foot, pack flat shoes not heels.

It it worth washing clothes as I go along?

If your hotel doesn’t do laundry, take a little washing powder to hand-wash quick-drying items like bikinis and underwear. Then you can pack fewer in the first place.

How can I cut down on toiletries?

Mini, refillable plastic bottles are handy for toiletries – that way you only take just the amount you need for your trip. Put them in a ziplock bag to prevent leakage.

What are the essentials?

Any medications you'll need as well as hard-to-find items like digital camera batteries, an adaptor plug with the correct wattage and high-quality sunglasses.

And what can I leave behind?

Check your hotel room facilities before you leave, as many hotels supply electrical equipment like irons, hairdryers and alarm clocks. If you're travelling on business, decide whether you need your laptop or can check email on a hotel computer – you can take any important files on a memory stick. 

What sort of suitcase should I take?

Hard-shell suitcases look great but weigh you down. Opt for a durable fabric suitcase that is rectangular, as curves lose precious space and make it harder to fold clothes neatly. Remember to use all available suitcase space - shoes are ideal for storing small items. 

How should I pack for a backpacking gap year?

Invest in high-quality, lightweight clothing to suit different climates, such as zip-off trousers, a fleece, waterproof jacket and a sarong that can double as a towel or blanket. Roll clothing and separate using stuff sacks, placing the heaviest items in the bottom of your pack. Aim for a maximum weight of 12kg - your back will thank you for it. 

Any tips for travelling light with kids?

Families with babies should consider a baby sling instead of a pushchair. Give kids their own backpack to carry a favourite toy or book. Inflatables are best bought on holiday, as they take up a lot of space and puncture easily. 

My bag is still over the airline’s limit. How can I cut back?

Lighten your load by travelling in your heaviest clothing, like a winter coat and walking boots – even if it’s sunny when you leave. Remember to leave some space to bring gifts home, so if your maximum luggage weight allowance is 20kg, aim for 15kg