How to pack like a pro

Expert advice on how to pack for the holidays. Tip: you can stuff more into a shoe than you think you can.

Now that summer holiday season is here, many readers will be planning to go on vacation to get away from the office, while others will be planning to go on vacation and stay in continual touch with the office, thanks to the marvel of modern technology. We truly live in a wondrous age.

That said, there is one constant of travel. No, it’s not spending the entire trip wondering if you remembered to lock that window, the one that is completely accessible from the back yard, all someone needs is a box to stand on and they can get in, I wish you’d listen to me and do something about it, you know the catch doesn’t always hold; it’s packing. In order to go somewhere, you need to take things with you, and I’m here to help.

Many of you will be setting out on your travels in a camper or motorhome. I’ve never owned one, so assume this means taking things from your cupboards and drawers and fitting them into vastly smaller cupboards and drawers, strewing whatever doesn’t fit around the interior (to give it a “homey, lived-in feel”), and calling it a day. For those who need to pack cases, here are a few tips.

Ask my mother. My mother can pack a suitcase like nobody’s business. I need say nothing more than that she has tissue paper, and is not afraid to use it to keep delicate fabrics from creasing. However, I understand that calling my mother is not a practical solution for most people.

Make use of unused spaces within your suitcase. You don’t know how much you can stuff into a shoe until you really try.

Lay out what you want to take, then remove half the items. This is sound advice, on the surface. However, you need to be selective when it comes to the “half”. It means “half of each type of clothing you have packed”, not just splitting the pile of clothes randomly in two, unless you really want to spend the first hours at your destination finding somewhere that sells underwear.

Be realistic. When looking at an item you’re tempted to pack, ask yourself when you last wore it. If the answer is “During the Reagan administration”, you’re probably safe leaving it behind.

Make your suitcase stand out. This is especially important if you are travelling by air, and want to make sure that the suitcase you pluck from the conveyor belt is actually yours (or that someone else doesn’t pick up your case by mistake). Plastering your suitcase with “Trump: Make America Great Again” stickers should do the trick: you’ll recognize it immediately, and no one else in their right mind will want to touch it.

Packing to come home. This seems easy enough: if it doesn’t belong to you, it doesn’t go in the suitcase. (If you’re staying in a hotel then of course you throw in all those toiletries that are so thoughtfully supplied, although exercise some judgement: there is probably a limit to how many shower caps, shoe buffing cloths, and sewing kits you need.) However, this is where holiday purchases rear their ugly head. That 1/100 scale model of Niagara Falls might have looked good on the gift shop shelf, but fitting it into the five square inches left in your case will be a challenge; and no, it won’t go inside a shoe. Have fun!