Solo travel is one of the most liberating experiences in the world. You can make your own schedule, you don’t have to worry if your travel partner is having a good time or not and you can indulge your every whim without judgement.
Packing efficiently for a solo trip can be harder than you expect. But, sometimes adding hold baggage can cost as much as the flight itself. As a result, more and more people are scaling down and taking hand luggage only, which makes sense if you’re only going away for a short trip. There’s no need to weigh yourself down with unnecessary items – and there is no better feeling than being able to stroll off the plane and head straight to the taxi queue, luggage in hand, while everyone else stares anxiously at the luggage carousel.
With ever increasing airline baggage restrictions (you should check with your airline before you fly), one of the more challenging aspects of travelling solo can be trying to narrow down exactly what you need. If you don’t have anybody to share a baggage allowance with, it can be tricky to scale down your wardrobe options and travelling with hand luggage only – presents its own set of problems thanks to the liquid restrictions and that little 20cm x 20cm transparent resealable bag. It’s not just about packing less, it’s about packing smarter and thinking strategically.
It’s important to remember that you will be completely responsible for your own luggage, with nobody to help you carry it up five flights of stairs, look after it while you go to the bathroom or hoist it into the overhead locker – that is why it is crucial to travel as small and light as possible. Here are some packing tips to get you organised for your next short trip.
Credit: Thomas Martinsen
10 Tips to be a Solo Packing Pro
1 Plan a mini capsule wardrobe with accessories in advance. Think about crease free outfits you can put together and colour coordinate everything instead of throwing random separates in your case. Think also, about the climate you are heading towards, what you are likely to be doing each day, to what will make the transition from dressing down to dressing up and vice versa, an easy one.
Choose clothes you are not wearing the week before you travel, so you are not rushing the night before to do a laundry wash. In the days leading up to your departure (be strict with yourself and ask if you really need to take everything you’ve chosen?!), wash, iron and do a final edit because chances you may be taking more than you need. The smart choice is to take the smallest bag or case you possibly can!
2 Take no more than 2 to 3 pairs of versatile shoes to match all your clothing – comfortable trainers for city exploring, sandals for leisurely strolls, flip flops (if travelling to a warm destination) and one pair of smart shoes for going out at night are all you need. Prioritise comfort over style – if your feet hurt, you can kiss goodbye to enjoying the rest of your trip. Wear one of your three carefully selected pair of shoes while you travel.
3 Roll your clothes instead of folding – this minimises creases and maximises space.
4 Check ahead of time with your accommodation – do they supply a hairdryer? Hair straighteners? This will save considerable weight and space in your luggage.
5 Use your resealable plastic bag for the important stuff – decant your expensive perfume, perfectly matched foundation and other hard-to-find beauty essentials into travel sized bottles. Then just buy travel size toiletries such as shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste at the airport, your destination or rely on what your hotel provides.
6 Save up sachet samples of body lotions, eye creams and moisturisers you find in magazines or with purchases from beauty counters – sometimes you can get up to 3 applications from these making them ideal for travelling.
7 Technology is essential for the solo traveller – a Kindle is an ideal replacement for weighty books and helps while away the hours in a pavement café. Laptop/iPads can be handy for Skyping friends and family or watching Netflix if rained off – and don’t forget a portable USB charger – nobody wants to spend a long flight delay staring at a 10% battery warning on their phone.
8 A light scarf is great for a variety of uses – keeping warm on the plane or covering up in the sun.
9 Put together a mini ‘first aid’ kit (painkillers, antihistamines, Imodium, Sudafed, plasters) – being ill when on holiday solo is bad enough but having to waste precious time tracking these items down could make or break the entire trip.
10 Take a supply of zip-lock bags – these are so handy for organising things like chargers and jewellery, storing a wet swimsuit and protecting your valuables from leakages.