How To Pack the Luggage

It's less than two months til I pack my bags and say goodbye to my favourite motherland again. In the midst of all these studying for the finals, I decided to cheer up and do happy stuff, namely, write my packing list. Unfortunately, happy stuff also included a lot of things like foolscap paper and notebooks and reading materials for class. And ethernet cable. I thought I was going to Europe, but the paper said that the hostel room does not provide wifi, only internet through LAN, and also, cable not included o.o

I am currently rather clueless about the people I will be spending my two months with, except for a girl I spoke to on fb. It felt kind of reassuring that she seems to spend money on travel the way I do, and in fact she seems to have grander plans than me, so hopefully she stays like that during the trip as well. Then I'll have someone who won't judge the way I swipe my card. Otherwise, I'll have to be sensitive to strangers and their spending habits so I won't appear too rude.

Anw, while thinking about what to put in my luggage I remembered the times when I was in USA with amanda and France with the girls from NUS, and all the advice I'd given them on how to pack their luggage properly. Family trips don't count cos my parents were the ones who taught these to me, so they probably do it better than any one of us.

photo: randomly found on my harddisk

Here's a quick roundup, also as a note-to-self.

Position Items Strategically
Always always put the heaviest items where the wheels are, so that when the luggage is standing, it stands. If the heavy stuff are at the top where the handle is, then gravity is going to have the luggage fall over. This generally leads to those people who cannot let go of their luggage when they are trying to buy a bus or train ticket to get to their hotel from the airport. Each time they put their hands to their wallet, the luggage topples. And then I roll my eyes while they find some place they can lean their luggage on.

Also, always always put the disposable stuff where it is easiest to reach when opening the luggage. By disposable I mean stuff like tissue paper, soap, shampoo, sanitary napkins etc. Things that can be bought anywhere and everywhere, of course unless it's like my precious sparkly conditioner I bought in France that I have to use every ounce of it before I will throw the bottle away. That means it's not disposable. This is especially impt on the return trip, so that when the staff at the airport counter says the luggage is overweight, just reach for these stuff and throw them away. And don't hold up the queue by looking for disposable items all over the luggage. Also, to prevent unnecessary peering by 色伯伯s.

And if the luggage still does not meet the cut off weight, pull out the heaviest stuff that is allowed on board the plane. It's easy to find, just right at the bottom of the luggage. Then hand carry that thing.

Create Space
I have absolute faith in my shopping skills. On the first day in Taiwan I alr bought myself a shirt. So I need to be able to create space in my luggage to bring home all these new finds. Solution? Get rid of the old finds.

Always always pack to throw. Not everything, but as much as possible. Usually I wear something on the first few days of a trip to get rid of it. So if you see it on my travel pictures, it probably means you'll never see it again. Saves me the laundry too.

Talking about the laundry, I usually wear things that I plan to throw nearing the end of a leg of the trip. For example, the last night in New York before I head off to Buffalo. Cos the other stuff would have been washed alr, but there would be no time to wash the clothes on the last day of that leg, so it's better to throw clothes on days like that. Prevents the luggage from stinking too. But then if the luggage looks a little too full to pack, then I won't wait for the last days of a leg of the trip, I'll just wear and throw immediately. It frees up space quite substantially.

Another thing to throw will be travel packs. Throughout the year I'm always collecting samples and travel-sized soap and shampoos from hotels, so that I can bring them on trips, especially when I'm staying in places that don't provide these stuff. It's good to use so that I throw one pack away every few days, rather than carrying an entire bottle that becomes too big for the volume of its contents after a while. Worse still, is that if I don't finish using it on the trip, then I'd have to carry the bottle home. Which once again boils down to the fundamental problem of limited luggage space.

This doesn't apply to the stuff I put on my face though. I love my face too much that I'll gladly carry those big bottles of cleanser, moisturiser and sunblock everywhere. I don't want to risk a breakout from using over-the-counter stuff.

Also about the soaps, shampoos, cleansers, moisturisers. Keep all liquid items in a waterproof bag. That can mean a plastic bag, ziplock bag or anything that doesn't allow water to flow to the other side. In case the bottle can't take the change in air pressure of the plane and bursts, at least everything else is protected from having to take a bath. Especially the camera charger, phone charger and other electronics there may be.

Be Resourceful
I know some people who are afraid to buy fragile items because they would break in their luggage, or else they'd ask the hotel counter for newspaper or bubble wrap or something to protect their stuff. Firstly, newspaper is going stain everything else in its surrounding with print. Secondly, it's an absolute waste of space to be adding things into the luggage that's alr bursting at the seams. Just use clothes and towels to wrap them securely. And don't place them next to the luggage wall. Put them in between more clothes and towels so that they won't accidentally hit something when the luggage handlers mishandle the luggage.

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I won't discuss contents of the luggage, cos it's really a personal choice, though my luggage generally hovers around the 12-15kg for trips that are five days or up to three months. It doesn't differ cos I usually only bring clothes enough for up to seven days. Past that, I either do my laundry there, or I put my trust in my shopping skills to get me new clothes. The weight of the luggage on the return trip is the one that varies by duration of stay.

Of course, then there is amanda who travels ten days with 10kg, and an unnamed someone who left Singapore for a month with 25kg, which basically gives her no space for shopping because the overload is 50lbs (26kg). Really, unless it's a trip to a village in the most backward of places, I don't think there is a need to worry about not being able to purchase shampoo or soap or tissue paper. Just bring enough to last without taking into account emergencies, and in case things vanish too quickly, then replenish while there. No need to contingent for things like what if I throw up and don't have enough tissue paper? If you bring just enough for the whole trip, then there'll be enough to tide you across the situation until you get to a convenience store for more.

I know it seems like I have too many rules just to pack my luggage, but I think it's been ingrained in me since I was young such that I don't need to consciously remind myself of these pointers while packing. It just comes naturally.