How to pack for trips

People are usually surprised at the size of my travel bags be it for vacations or business trips. I mean surprised by how small my bags are. These are the only two bags which I carried on my 7-day trip to East Malaysia and they contained everything that I needed. Here, I would like to share with you how to efficiently use your bag space when you pack for trips.

This method of packing saves space and also prevents your clothes from getting crumpled.

When packing clothes, instead of folding them individually, lay them all out together. If you want them to be less crumpled, turn the clothes inside out. Clothes, like shirts, which you want to retain as least crumpled should be placed at the bottom of the pile. Clothes which you plan to sleep in should be placed at the top.

Next, roll the pile of clothes tightly. The tighter you roll them, the less crumpled they would be. Secure the roll with rubber bands, ribbons or strings.

I use this method of packing for my business clothes too. It saves me the trouble of having to re-iron them in the hotel.

Don't bring too many "spare" clothes. But if you are going on a beach or diving holiday, I recommend bringing 2 sets of swimwear just in case something happens to one set.

If you're a gal who wears bra, stuff your socks and panties into the cups of your bra to maintain the shape. Otherwise, pack your sock and panties last. Stuff them into empty spaces of your bag.

Cosmetics and toiletries
Pack your shampoo, facial cleanser and shower gel into small bottles. I use 30 to 50 ml bottles. I keep sample-sized bottles or sometimes I take bottle of moisturizer to use on the plane from hotels (that don't charge for taking bottles).

Bring a small tube of toothpaste. Small ones can be bought at People's Park for 50 cents. Bring a used toothbrush which you can discard at the end of the trip.

For facial moisturizers, I bring the free samples (usually about 5 ml) that are given out by cosmetic companies. I get perfume samples from time-to-time also.

I do bring my make-up along on vacations too. I would just bring an eye shadow set with 2 to 4 colours, eyelash curler, mascara, eyebrow pencil, lip balm and 1 or 2 lipsticks. I don't bring a blusher if I'm going to be outdoors alot.

Wear something comfortable on the plane. Keep in mind that you may need to queue at immigration so you don't want to be standing for hours in heels.

If you're bringing sports shoes, wear them and pack your slippers in your bag instead of the other way round. In case of emergencies, it's better to be wearing shoes with your toes covered (to protect your toes from cuts and people might step on your feet).

Try not to bring too many. This really takes up space.

Adaptors, chargers and electronics
Cushion them with clothes instead of placing them in air-bubbled bags. Bring a carry-on bag to hand-carry any precious electronic devices to prevent damage and loss.

First-aid and emergencies
Keep first-aid items like plasters, smelling oils, medication and diarrhea tablets easily accessible pockets of your bag. Your torch or handphone should be easily found in case of blackouts. Hang a personal alarm on your bag and keep it close to you when you sleep in the hotel.

It is best to leave some extra space in your bag to squeeze in last-minute items that you forgot to back. Also, you may buy things along the way and need to pack them in.


David said...


Very practical hints for tropical travel.

Impressively small amount of clothing.

You are correct about using sample sizes or what in the states is sold as travel size, cosmetics and personal care items.

Security in the U.S.A. strictly limits the amount of liquids one can carry on carry-on luggage.

The TSA allows Liquid and gel toiletries in 3-ounce containers or smaller are allowed if they are in a clear plastic, quart-size or smaller ziplock bag.

Larger containers that are half-full or rolled-up toothpaste tubes are not allowed. One ziplock bag per passenger.

Any amount of eye drops, saline solution, prescription and nonprescription medicine and personal lubricants are allowed.

Larger bottles of liquids and gels from outside -- including shampoo, suntan lotion, creams and toothpaste -- are allowed only in checked baggage.

Air travel sure is fun.
BTW, you would be challenged flying here where on can fly from the warm tropics into the northern hemisphere where outside today it a windy, rainy, and cool 12 C outside. Tonight 8-9C, and this is the first full week of autumn!

Good to read you home safely!


Anonymous said...

Hi there kym, thanks for sharing these useful tips!

Vick said...

Thanks for the good tips!
Shoes really take up a lot of space and if possible, I'll avoid bringing any extra. Normally I'll wear a pair of walking shoes.
I like to read books but they really take up space. So I normally use a 'hi-tech' solution (although it's not very ideal): I'll find some 'e-books' compatible with my handphone, install them, and read them when I need to do some reading during the trip.

Yu-Kym said...

Hi David, we adopted the US standards previously regarding the amount of liquids but don't it anymore now.
When I was in the US several years ago, I flew from hot Florida to chilly San Francisco. Fortunately I checked the weather and packed the right clothes :)

Vick, why isn't your hi-tech solution ideal? I think it's a great idea. Only bad thing is you can't turn it on during taking off and landing.

Lix2 said...

Good advice Kym! The idea of stuffing panties into the bra cups is great! Now I do not have to struggle wif my huge bag even for just a short get away :P

Philip said...

I pack my travelling stuff similir to yours...except that I don't need to bring a bra! I learnt to roll the clothings to save space more than 10 years ago from some one called Jill from Singapore. I revisited Mulu in March and a detailed account with many pictures were in the May entries.

Yu-Kym said...

Lix2, have fun on your holidays! :)

Philip, you are lucky you don't need to pack bra and cosmetics. Somehow guys' bags are still bigger than mine. Maybe it's cos their clothes are larger in size. I will probably visit Mulu next year when it's drier and when dive season in Miri re-opens.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
I use 1.5 litre cola bottles. First wash them with dish-washing detergent to get rid of the cola smell. Rinse & dry. Cut the bottom off with any paper cutter. That round opening makes it very easy to stuff clothes in. Roll clothes as shown in Y-K's photos, until they are slightly larger in diameter than the bottles bottom-opening. Slightly larger because you want the clothes to be packed tightly so that they wont fall out. Stuff the rolled clothes into the bottle. It helps the clothes to get in; if you rotate the roll of clothes as you push them in - same as the turning motion of a screw driver when you tighten a screw in. You can put underwear in one bottle, T-shirts in another. You can pack massive amounts of clothes this way.
Soiled clothes can also be kept separated from clean ones, by this method. If your Backpack gets drenched, your clothes are still nice and dry!
My family of 5 went on a month-long Switzerland & Paris trip with half empty suitcases each - leaving lots of space for the fantastically cheap & good Swiss chocolates to bring home! (cheapest place to buy chocs is at their supermarkets. 1 kg blocks of Merci chocs cost $25 only. BTW Switzerland is the cheapest place for a holiday because their currency is still in Swiss francs, not expensive Euros!). And no need for advance hotel bookings. At each railway terminal in the major cities, they have direct and free telephone calls to a host of hotels to enquire about room rates & availability.
Happy holidays everyone!

Yu-Kym said...

Interesting use of cola bottles. Only problem for me is - I don't soft drinks.
I didn't find Switzerland that cheap and language might be a problem. But their chocolates are great. I wish I could buy more chocolates then!

Anonymous said...

Most Swiss speak English. German is the default language cos around 80% of Swiss are German parentage.
90 Swiss francs for room with 2 double + 1 single beds. My 3 kids, wife, maid & I squeezed into one room. And breakfast is provided.
How much you would spent on breakfast for 5 persons. 60/70 francs? Nett room rate = 20/30 francs!
Travelling with family, the receptionist usually reveal they have kids too. I'll enquire about their ages & buy a book or chocs for their kids to show my gratitude-for giving us such low rates!
Be a good listener; you'll be suprised how expensive living can be - for a swiss working class family. 2 storey detached house within 50 km of city cost around 400k - 700k francs. Bank interest rates 6 to 8%.
The ordinary folks usually do not try to be self employed. It's becos labor costs are very high.
And they also have an ageing population but are resistant to immigration - thus the local Burger King is not very packed.
The Swiss country sides and ski resorts are beautiful.
The cold makes you really horny, so eat lots of red meats and fish while you are there.
The people are very civilised and their transport system are as dependable as clockwork.
Their ice-cream and chocs are the best in the world.
I can die happy, having seen the faces of pure pleasure, as my 2 young daughters slurp the wonderful swiss ice-cream; or have a snow-ball fight with their brother!

I hope everyone will have the same happy experience! Cheers!

Regards - Leo

Yu-Kym said...

I've been to Switzerland and it's great like you described! I was surprised to find out that it doesn't have to be 0 degrees for it to snow. After sledging downhill, I was afraid my ears would drop off!