Since flying with cheap airlines got very popular, packing became quite a challenge. Squeezing all necessary things into a hand luggage is not an easy thing. You can make it easier by applying a few rules which turned out to be very useful especially during my first trip to Mexico. Me and my friend managed to pack our stuff into one hand luggage. Read how we made it.
Luggage and the joy of buying a ticket
When finally me and my friend from Oxford, Karolina, managed to buy a ticket to Mexico for 250£, I could hardly believe it. I was as happy as a sandboy that in two weeks I would be able to meet my friends from Erasmus whom I hadn’t seen for 8 years. The closer my journey was, the harder I started to wonder how to pack especially that we planned to move around a lot. More or less a week before journey we decided to give up on paying an additional fee in the amount of 75£ for each registered piece of luggage. We decided to take one common suitcase weighing up to 15 kg and one small backpack each. Since that moment we started intense talks and trials how to make it works. Our flight was from London Gatwick so Karo had to take a bus from Oxford where she lived at that time. I had to fly with Ryanair from Warsaw.
Hand luggage so which suitcase take?
To lower the costs I could come only with my hand luggage and then eventually repack. The only thing is that besides my clothes I have to take a few souvenirs for my friends and the people from Couch Surfing who will eventually put us up for the night. Therefore, Karolina started thinking of buying a new suitcase. However, the closer the journey, the more unreal this idea seemed. All available suitcases were either only a bit bigger from the so called hand luggage or horribly expensive. Finally we decided to fly with my old hand luggage suitcase (55x35x20) with the possibility to enlarge. Thanks to it a suitcase capacity extended for 5 cm. While I’ll buy vodka at the airport. In this simple way we’ll avoid paying extra fee for registered luggage on the way Warsaw – London. Karo wasn’t convinced by this idea. We agreed I had time until Friday to do a test packing. We were going on Sunday so in case of a failure I would still have time to buy a new suitcase.
First stage of packing – mess
The next day I started my first preparation process, meaning I spread on my sofa all the things I wanted to take. By saying all I also mean each sock, hair band, passport, money, etc. If I haven’t listed currency yet, so I usually put a little piece of paper with the sign “money” as a little reminder. It’s very important while packing to have the whole picture of all the things you want to squeeze into a suitcase or a backpack. People often focus on the main luggage only. On the day of departure it turns out that you have to add twice as much stuff such as a pillow, charger, toothbrush, etc. This is where excess luggage comes from. Although I try to plan each packing carefully, I always take it cool. This time somebody else’s packing depends on my well packed suitcase. At the very beginning we both agreed on limiting our luggage to the minimum, meaning only necessary cosmetics in smaller versions, no jewellery (at most a small chain and earrings hidden in a stick deodorant in case of a party), no stilettos and generally speaking worn clothes. As a rule, we were to dress up in the so called Romanian style in order not to draw attention. Having learned my lesson after the trip to Morocco I knew perfectly well that even a small detail could make an impression of being rich and we didn’t want this at all. I remember my Mexican friends Suxy and Cata warning me that I should look average as robberies and abductions happen a lot.
Second stage of packing- list of needs
I get to the next stage. At the beginning I make the so called list of needs meaning that for each day of a week I write down what kind of clothes I will need most, for example summer casual outfit, warmer casual wear, beach wear, party dress, sports clothes, etc. In this way I know what type of clothes I’ll need most. I base it on the weather forecast. It was supposed to be hot at that time in Mexico (November/December) but we also planned caving, trekking or snorkelling. In Oxford, where I planned to stay for sightseeing for a few days, was Winter time like in Poland. I had to take it into consideration as well.
Third stage of packing – grouping
The next day I do clothes grouping, which is trying to group my pieces of clothes into ready sets, for instance, trousers + blouse + coloured panties + cardigan + sandals etc. Already at this stage of packing I try to minimalize the number of clothes choosing the ones that match the biggest number of other clothes, so instead of taking a cardigan with stripes I take a grey one which colour will practically suit all my blouses. The fact that I have to dress decently doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be tasteless. I usually manage to eliminate a few pieces of clothes at this stage.
Fourth stage of packing – final selection
I take a look at my sofa and I already see that there’s no way for me to pack it all. I go to the next stage which is further selection. This time I’ll try to get rid of or swap the clothes which in my opinion are too eye-catching, have some inscriptions or logos which may seem offensive or simply are too see-through or have too low a neckline. One of my rules for travelling is trying not to stand out and not to expose my femininity. Well, a few more pieces of clothing got the boot- too tight dress, a blouse with a very low neckline or a t-shirt with I’m crazy inscription. At the last stage I try to select clothes of light cotton fabrics. The lighter they are, the more I’ll be able to take. I often happen to take old shoes or worn clothes which I later leave. In this way I get some extra space for souvenirs. During this trip I got rid of 3 pairs of shoes and 2 blouses. This principle may seem a bit odd but I assume that during holiday one should rest and not promote oneself. Secondly, I like to refresh my wardrobe and restock it with things I wouldn’t be able to buy in Poland.
The first attempt to pack up
After three hours it seems that, theoretically, I’ve got all I need. Now I only need to put it into my suitcase and a backpack. I seldom happen to travel with a large suitcase so I try to make use of the available space to the maximum. For a start I roll my clothes and place them like sardines trying to fill each available space. In this way not only can you squeeze more clothes but you also protect them from getting crumpled. I organise my clothes according to colours, meaning colourful clothes go together and white ones go separately. Some selected pieces of clothing, especially those delicate ones, are wrapped in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet or coloured.
Around each suitcase there are enforcements and narrow openings. It’s the best place to put large cosmetics of more than 10 ml which we would like to carry in our hand luggage. While to my backpack I put my shoes and other heavy things or the ones that might get damaged e.g. a box of chocolates. I always pack a few t-shirts and panties in case my luggage gets lost. Small backpacks are practically never weighted (never happened to me) so instead of 5kg you can even squeeze up to 10kg. The best backpack is thin, light and without any enforcements. Its capaciousness is the best then.
The second attempt to pack up
Unfortunately, the pyramid in my suitcase is still too high. So, a few more things must still be thrown aside. I drop out my jeans and a sleeping bag. We’ll have to make do with a sheet. I managed. It seems my luggage is ready. I’ll only send a photo to Karo on Facebook – we’ll manage. She writes back with a smile- “great and there’s even quite a lot of space left for me. The suitcase loks like eating clothes”.
Have I already mentioned that we were flying to Mexico in the second half of November? Weather in Poland was cold at that time. Same weather was supposed to be in London and Oxford where we planned a few-day stay after our return. In practice it meant that we had to pack both for weather in Mexico (25 -30 degrees, but in some parts even 17) and in England (5 degrees). It’s obvious that a winter jacket always takes the most space. That’s why before our journey I bought in Decathlon store a down jacket Quechua X-light (for about 100 zł) which is very warm, light and you can roll it and hide into a small sack just like a sleeping bag. Then you can attach it to our backpack. We’ll do the same with a winter hat and a scarf. The biggest challenge, however, were the travelling shoes that would prove to be good both in a warm and a cold climate. I chose platform trainers with thick socks which lost their sole after a rainfall. So after my return from Mexico I needed some shopping in Prime Mark.