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Get Packing: How to Pack Your Suitcase

Here are some handy COVID-safe tips on loading your luggage for your next sojourn

by Nora Cavaccini

I don’t know about you but when I travel, I carefully consider what to pack, especially if I am travelling by plane, where the luggage policy is stricter. 

I live in Berlin (but am from Rome) and when I travel back to Italy, I make sure I have enough space in my luggage to return with food (something everyone travelling to Italy should do)! That’s why it’s vital I pack smart. I have travelled so much around Europe over the years, that I have packing down to a science. The pandemic has taught me how to be even savvier about what I bring along. 

Here are my pandemic-approved tips and hacks to help you pack your suitcase for your next trip.

Choose the right clothing

Yes, we all want a variety of outfits and if you’re a fashionista, shoes are up on the list. But I have learned from the past that you should only take what you really need. Ask yourself some questions: Where am I going? How long will I stay? Is the weather changeable? What kinds of activities will I do? 

Less is more when it comes to clothing. If you are partial to dresses, they should work from day to night. Pack one, max two, special occasion outfits. That sexy, I-might-meet-a-celebrity cocktail dress? Leave it. 

Try to pack garments that go well together. If an item can’t be coordinated with your outfits, leave it at home. When choosing clothes, consider lighter, breathable fabrics that you can layer. You will have no problem if you are travelling in summer or to a warm destination yet you’ll have something if you run into inclement weather. Avoid fleece or bulky fabrics. Opt instead for a down anorak or slicker for rainier destinations. Polyester packs well but cotton is much more comfortable. 

Roll your clothing or fold it vertically 

Once you’ve selected your wardrobe, it’s time to pack. Fold dresses vertically in your bag, or better yet, roll them: this is not only a space saver, but it allows you to see everything at a glance. Wear your bulky or heavier items—jeans, fleece, boots—on the train, bus or flight. You’ll have more room in your bag.

Tip: to save extra space, tuck your socks into your shoes and your underwear into bra cups.

Separate your toiletries for each day 

Yes, toiletries are necessary (I wish everyone would remember to bring their deodorant) but you don’t have to bring everything in your bathroom. I usually want to bring it all—makeup, hair accessories—but I have learned to curb that impulse. 

Leave the curling iron and hairdryer at home and only pack what you absolutely need. That means, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash and most important, sunscreen!  

Big bottles take space so separate each item into small, reusable travel-sized containers and make sure you only have enough for each day away. Airport security regulations mean they must be small and you have to put them in clear plastic bags so make sure to have a few handy. 

Tip: If you’re eco-conscious, common items in your home could be used to store toiletries. Contact lens cases or Kinder Surprise capsules can be used to store some of your liquid products. You can also use a straw, filling it with your shampoo, for example, and then using a lighter to seal off both ends. Just make sure to write the contents on Scotch tape so you don’t mix your shampoo with your hair gel.

Want to avoid the liquid regulations? Replace liquids with solids. Nowadays, you can easily find almost anything in a bar. Talk about eco-friendly!

Optimise your carry-on bag

Today, many people opt for a carry-on instead of bulky luggage because they are free to bring on planes. So choose a backpack or bag that is easily foldable to fit underneath an aeroplane seat. I prefer ones with different compartments so it’s easy to organise my belongings and separates liquids from my other items. Naturally, regardless of how you travel, you should never place your wallet, passport, travel and visa documents or important medications in your luggage. Keep these in your carry on so they are easily accessible and don’t get lost by the airline. 

TIP: Prepare a personalised travel kit. I always carry headphones to listen to music, a book (here are some recommendations!), a snack and an eco-friendly, compressible water bottle.

Life in the time of COVID: Extra essential items

Regardless of how the pandemic plays out, items exist that are now indispensable. 

First off: face masks. I suggest travelling with a medical mask and carry a few spares as well. Accidents happen, such as lanyards breaking, and it is always good to have extras on hand. Store your mask in a ziplock bag, when not in use, to keep it clean. You can further protect yourself by wearing glasses over the mask. If you already wear them, great, otherwise you can use a pair of sunglasses. 

Bring your own hand sanitiser to stay safe and keep it on a lanyard for easy access. Bring disinfecting wipes to wipe down surfaces, such as tray tables, chairs, handles, etc. Add a thermometer to your kit. You can keep track of your temperature right away if you are in contact with someone with the virus. 

Carabiner clips are not just for rock climbers anymore. I use them to hang my bags in places such as airport bathrooms.

Tip: Some countries require special documents for entry. Remember to fill them out beforehand and have them on hand. If you’re one of those people who forgets their pen and asks a stranger: stop that now! Bringing your own pen reduces person-to-person contact and mitigates the spread of COVID or other viruses. 

Get Packing: How to Pack Your Suitcase
Clean hands are critical to controlling the spread of COVID and a hand sanitiser bottle is a good option if washing your hands is impossible. Credit: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Last but not least, don’t forget the Omio app! It provides access to all your mobile tickets and contactless payment options. You can check our “Security” tab to get all the Covid-19 travel updates directly on your phone. 

COVID certainly adds additional challenges to travel, but Omio is here with travel advisories and precautions to keep everyone safe. 

So, where to next?