How To Pack Like A Pro

Updated: Dec 23, 2017

Do you come back from a trip without wearing half of the clothes you took with you? Here are my tips to turn you into a packing ninja!

I never thought it was something that special worth writing about, but on my latest trip to Boston I strolled up to the check in desk with my a carry on sized suitcase and my handbag for a week long business trip. I thought this was normal, but when I met the others joining me on the trip there was a huge difference in the amounts we were bringing with us. My checked in luggage weighed just 13kg, while one of the girls checked in 44kg of luggage!

Diane with her 44kg bags and Me with my little 13kg bag

They all wondered how I managed to squeeze everything in and told me I should write this post, so here it is. I hope you find it useful.

I have always tried to be as efficient as possible when packing. Now with reducing weight allowances on airlines and hand luggage being restricted on flights, forcing more of us to pay extra charges, I see this as a 'fun' challenge to take as little as possible but still have everything I need, and avoid the extra charges!! This is also handy when travelling solo with kids cause your hands will be full enough as it is!

It can be a juggle to be prepared for every kind of weather, with different shoes, outfits and not to mention toiletries and hair equipment!

Check the weather forecast

I live in Scotland, so I don’t pay much attention to weather forecasts and it is normal for us to have all 4 seasons in 1 day, so I’m normally prepared with an umbrella, sunglasses, scarf and gloves in my handbag on most days. But having a rough idea of what to expect can mean that you don’t pack heavy jumpers unnecessarily.

Make the most of your hand luggage

I put valuables and everything I need immediately during or after the flight, in my hand luggage in case my hold luggage goes missing. I also take items that will make a long haul flight in economy as comfortable and luxurious as possible!

My hand luggage essentials:


  • Laptop

  • Mobile Phone

  • Headphones (if your fussy about personal hygiene don’t use the ones on the plane, it is likely they have been recycled.)

  • Chargers

Toiletries to help you freshen up after a long flight:

These all fitted into the small see-through plastic Ziploc bag, which I prepare at home so I don’t waste time sorting it out at security to find their bag wont close properly and get something confiscated!

  • Travel sized hand cream and face cream

  • Lip balm (the air cabin can really dry out your skin)

  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste (which I saved from a previous trip)

  • Concealer

  • Lip-gloss

  • Mascara

  • Hairbrush

  • Deodorant (after 14 hours of travelling you’ll wish you had it with you!)

  • Perfume (my favourite is Jo Malone, it makes me feel like I’m in first class even though I’m in economy)

Get comfy:

  • Trtl travel pillow (this is my newest edition, and it allowed me to sleep for the first time EVER properly on a flight! I will not fly without it from now on!)

  • Eye mask

  • Big pashmina or scarf (acts like an extra blanket)

  • Fluffy Socks

  • Yoga pants/leggings

Don't forget these:

  • Wallet (get your currency before you go so you don’t get stung with high fees at the airport)

  • Passport, check you have your visa and everything is in date

  • Boarding Pass (lots of airlines now have an app for this, but some airports don’t have the tech yet so check if you need a printed one)

  • Keys (put in a zipped pocket so you don’t loose them after not using them for awhile)

  • Umbrella

  • Sunglasses

Wear your heaviest items

Wear things like your coat, jeans and boots for travelling and then change into the yoga pants and fluffy socks once you’re on the plane to be more comfortable and save lots of space in your luggage!

Take a capsule wardrobe and use layers

Taking items that you can mix and match will mean you need fewer shoes and less accessories to go with them. Also choosing clothes that you can layer together will mean that if the weather changes you won’t get caught out as much.

My business capsule wardrobe:

3 pairs of shoes (2 smart 1 comfy) full disclosure - I didn’t wear one of the pairs as I had such sore feet after walking all day, I couldn’t face putting on my high-ish wedges despite my many blister plasters!!

2 jeggings 2 leggings (one is in hand luggage and one I am wearing)

1 smart dress

1 evening top

2 smart jackets (I wore one under my coat)

2 light-weight jumpers

7 tops (there were 2 I didn’t wear but were good as a back up)

3 vest tops for layering

3 bras (wearing 1)

7 underwear and 2 pairs of tights

1 set of PJ’s

3 scarfs (wearing 1)

3 necklaces

1 coat (wearing to and from airport)

Pack your shoes near the wheels in the corners of the suitcase to stop them squashing your clothes and roll your underwear in them so they keep their shape and save space.

Toiletries and medicines:


Having some emergency supplies for basic things like blister plasters, colds, headaches and tummy problems, to last for a few days is always a good practice. When you’re feeling rubbish in a foreign country, the last thing you want to do is try to:

1. try to find a pharmacy and

2. try to communicate in a different language what your aliment is and what medicine you need! Even when going to a country that speaks your language the brands are all different and it is stressful and time-consuming figuring out what you should get.

Make Up:

Yes my husband is rolling his eyes about the amount of make up I have! I use travelling as a good excuse to clear out my make up bag of empty containers and old mascara. I have double-ended brushes which saves some space. I love bare minerals make up and you can get a travel set at most airports which comes with a handy travel case. Also I love the Lancôme travel compact that you can only get at airports (duty free is great for stocking up on make up!).


Straighteners/curling iron (remember your travel adapter!), hairspray/dry shampoo, travel shampoo and conditioner (the ones in the hotels are usually not great unless you’re in a really fancy place!)

Take an extra foldable tote bag in your suitcase, because for some reason every time I'm packing to go home, my luggage always weighs more than when I left! Also you might want to buy some souvenirs or do a little shopping.

Things I wished I didn’t take:

My work diary – seriously what was I thinking?

The extra pair of smart high shoes, I wished I had another pair of comfy flats instead!

Things I wished I did take:

My gym shoes and yoga outfit – I didn’t have enough space in my room to do my regular yoga routine, but there were classes in a yoga studio across the road, which I wished I could have gone to. Doing exercise when you travel makes you feel much better and helps with jet lag, especially when you are going to be in meetings and conference rooms for work most of the week!

Have a great flight!

RelocateGuru is an app where you can save and share all the best tips you discover on your travels, so everyone can feel like a local wherever your adventures take you. Download it today!

Have I missed anything? What are your essential travel items? I would love to hear them in the comments below.

#travel #worldtravelling #packingtips

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