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How often have you packed for a vacation only to find that you have taken far too much clothing and came back with wrinkled clothes that you never even wore? Consider what you take carefully and pack items that you will need, and if you should forget one, will be an inconvenience.

The words of Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect and writer 1867-1959

To know what to leave out and what to put in; just where and just how, ah, that is to have been educated in the knowledge of simplicity.

I believe that these words have something to do with architecture but prove very true when packing your bags for a vacation.

What to leave out:

Don’t be persuaded by the niggling question, “What if …?” to pack or purchase things that you might not need. Solve the problem when you are faced with it and enjoy the challenge to find a solution.

I know travellers that prefer packing older clothes so that they can toss them to make space for new purchases, or in case the bag gets lost. Rather take clothes that you enjoy, feel comfortable and fabulous in, because that is what vacations are about.

What to put in:

Use a packing list. There are many lists available on the internet, but in the end you will have to put one together that suits you. Whatever you take, depends on your destination.

Some general tips:

  • Consider colours carefully, this will maximise the number of combinations the clothing can be worn. (3 bottoms,4 tops for 7days)
  • Choose fabrics that are easy to maintain, lightweight, don’t crease or wrinkle and dry quickly.
  • Rather layer your clothes than taking too many bulky items, e.g. thermal underwear instead of heavy jackets and pants.
  • Dressy jacket / Cardigan / Sweater / Jewellery.
  • Cover-up, long-T or sarong.
  • Activity clothing, swim wear / ski suite.
  • At least 3 pairs of socks and underwear.
  • Minimize the number of shoes you take. Pack them, in shoe bags, soles out, heels at opposite ends and use the inside spaces for fragile items. (One pair of dressy shoes, one for walking, sandals). Don’t forget the belt.
  • Hat / cap / glasses / sunglasses.
  • Extras: luggage locks / cable ties, sewing kit, safety pins, Ziploc®) plastic bags, address book, phrase books, pen, inflatable travel pillow, hair dryer.
  • Medication – copy of prescription, first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, and antibacterial wipes.
  • Reading material, games.
  • Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, soap / face cleanser, deodorant, hand / body lotion, lip balm, personal-hygiene items, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, comb / brush, razors and shaving gel, nail care kit. Make up bag. Liquid detergent for laundry. Repack liquids in smaller plastic bottles; pack in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Carry on your body: travel tickets, passport, visas, vaccination certificates, (international) driver’s license, health insurance information, ATM cards, cash, traveller’s cheques, printouts of reservations, copies of important documents in a different bag,
  • Specialty Items: Camera, battery, charger, adapter, binoculars, cellular phone, charger, I-pod, gifts.
  • Accessories in line with your activities, i.e. Field glasses for bird watching or towels for swimming


Pack in any bag that is comfortable for you to lug around. There is no right or wrong. But do consider your fellow passengers when taking luggage on board.

Day bag: beach bag, tog bag, backpack, shoulder bag for excursions.


  • The most common practise is that items of clothing are folded and stacked, leaving the clothes creased and wrinkled. Pack a travel iron to iron it out.
  • Rolling of clothes reduce folds but increase wrinkling if not done carefully.
  • Bundling or wrapping of clothes around an object in the centre. The centre can either be bulky items like your shoes or a flat organising pouch with your toiletries and first aid kit . Organise your belongings into categories in different pouches this makes smaller items easier to find. Start the bundle with you heaviest and biggest items in opposite directions, on a flat surface, ending with your underwear and socks closest to the centre. Carefully wrap every item around the core to eliminate folds. Place the bundle in your suitcase. Strap down with internal straps. The disadvantage is that you have to unpack everything to get to the centre at each new location.

Evening chore:

Doing laundry can become an expensive exercise and in some third world countries there is no such luxury as finding a laundry. Before going to bed quickly do the laundry. Rinse socks, underwear or anything that you would like to wear again. Use hair conditioner as a final rinsing agent. Roll wet clothes in a towel, wring lightly. Hang to dry. Iron, whatever needs ironing.

Remember: To leave a copy of your passport, air ticket, ID, Credit Cards and Travellers cheque numbers with a responsible person who can deal with any crisis in the event of losing your bag or luggage, accident, illness or death.

Wishing you, happy light travels, and a wonderful vacation!

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser

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