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The Art Of Packing

Posted: December 16, 2011
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Packing is an integral part of travel – one that can potentially make or break your trip! Some tips to ease your load.

By Shivya Nath

We Indians are notorious when it comes to packing for a vacation. I remember all the family holidays that started with dragging heavy suitcases out of the house, bargaining with porters at the railway station, asking burly men for a hand to get the luggage up the luggage shelf of the train, and keeping track of all our many belongings. It didn’t matter whether the vacation lasted a weekend or a week; my mom had to pack what she had to pack. I’m glad I didn’t inherit her packing skills.

Advantages of efficient packing

Over four years of travelling independently, my rule of thumb has evolved to carrying one backpack for a trip shorter than a week, and a haversack for up to a month. That might not be everyone’s travel style, but there are enough reasons for us women to travel light; assurance that our luggage isn’t manhandled, independence from relying on men for help, money and time saved by carry-on luggage in the absence of escalators and while checking in to a flight, and of course, the drastically reduced chances of losing our precious belongings.

Packing light is a little like a cook experimenting with the perfect ingredients for his signature dish – you may not get it exactly right the first few times, but you’ll get there eventually. A few pointers to keep in mind:

Size matters

Obvious as it might sound, the bigger your bag, the more you’ll stuff in it and the heavier it will become. Choose an average sized bag or a wheeled suitcase, and stick to only what fits in it. Don’t overstuff it, especially if you like to buy souvenirs or shop where you go. Choose your smallest cases for toiletries and cosmetics.

Pack smart

Pick clothes that are easy to mix and match. If ethnic is your style, carry a pair of black jeans or churidaars that can be reused with different colours. If you’re heading somewhere cold, pack layers that can easily be added or removed depending on the weather, and that can be shuffled to change the look. Load up on accessories; they take minimal space and can deck up any outfit.

Comfort comes first

We often try to put looks before comfort, but on long trips, few things can make us look (and feel) more miserable than the lack of comfort. Forget those fancy heels at home, they are neither worth the space nor the way they’ll torture your feet on long walks.

Research over anticipation

Many of us anticipate the weather and pack for summer, winter and monsoon for just a single weekend away from home. Ask Google, rely on weather forecasts, and for unexpected showers, carry a foldable poncho rather than bulky umbrellas and a waterproof jacket. Instead of anticipating everything that could go wrong on a trip, go with an open mind and treat any detours from the original plan as an adventure.

Go local

We love our food and we hate to leave home without it, but it’s also the most space-hogging and attention-seeking part of our luggage. Try to limit the food you carry to small snacks, and experiment with the food available at the destination you’re travelling to. After all, food constitutes a large part of experiencing a new culture, and you might just find a new cuisine or recipe to please your taste buds.

The next time you pack, remember the traveller’s motto, ‘It’s better to bring half of what you think you need, and twice as much money.’ 

Photo credit: mcarvalho

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10 Comments


  1. I so agree with not relying on men to handle one’s heavy luggage. The elderly or ill do need help but young people – even women – need to be able to manage their own luggage and pack accordingly.

    Also agree with comfort with style. Learnt this the hard way on a trip to Europe – you will get more out of the city in a pair of sneakers even if you do look like a tourist.

  2. Aparna

    ooh, I so, so agree on the comfort over style bit. Like the bride, I also learnt this the hard way in Europe – when wearing a fashionable short, tight skirt – my thighs began chafing after walking around streets and museums, and we actually had to interrupt our day to get back to the guesthouse so I could change. Never again!

  3. I go on trip every year with my hubby and kids and I know packing the clothes and all the necessary items is not an easy task all. If you go on a family trip or go outside with your friends for few days you have do to packing for that and its really tough to pack all the items properly.You have to take all the item like clothes, food and all the necessary stuff with you so the packing should be done in a smart way, only take that clothes away with you which you are actually going to wear. How about the short skirts and denim jeans, I think all these clothes are really comfortable and easy to wear and also give a smart look.

  4. i travelled to Europe for a 2 weeks trip during winter and brought with me the essential with clothes that can be layered as enough for 2 weeks.Although it’s bulky in terms of the outer coat(1 pc only), the others i’m able to stuff in one luggage & a sling bag for daily walking.

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