What to Pack

14 Packing Tips for Girls

Up until recently, I used to treat going away like some kind of fashion show. Going to Berlin? Ok, I need a new jacket, new boots and a new bag. Going to Great Wall of China? What the f*** am I going to wear, I’m going to have to look at these photos for the rest of my life!! Going to Kenya? Better go on ASOS and order FOUR new bikinis for ONE week in Mombasa. (Yes, really.) These days I still do spend a bit of time worrying about what to pack. But not to that extent! When I did my big trip around Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka, I decided to streamline what I was taking into just one piece of hand luggage. 7 weeks into one tiny back pack! How would I ever manage that? I mean, I brought over 40kgs of luggage (that I considered to be basic essentials) to Korea- how was I going to manage this! Actually, it was much easier than it sounded! I want to share my best advice for packing light with you guys so that the next time you travel you can do so without being weighed down. If I can do it, so can you!

Clothes

  1. Where are you going? OK, so you already know what the weather’s going to be like where you’re going. The next most important thing to think about is the culture of that country. Are you going to India, The Middle East or Africa? Then, your denim hot pants and crop top that you wore around the Thai Islands isn’t going to cut it! If you’re going to be traveling mainly around conservative countries, I’d definitely pack 1 maxi/midi skirt, one pair of lightweight trousers and a scarf or pashmina. Just passing through somewhere? Then take a sarong that you can throw over your shorts and a cap sleeve t-shirt- no one will ever know that you’re not really a modest little angel!

    Crop tops are totally acceptable in India but knees and shoulders should be covered in a lot of areas. Research where you're going before you pack.

    Crop tops are totally acceptable in India but knees and shoulders should be covered in a lot of areas. Research where you’re going before you pack.

  2. Pack for 5 Days. Whether you’re traveling for 3 weeks or 6 months, you only really need to pack enough clothes for 5 days. Just pack some washing powder (not liquid, as that will take up too much space in your liquid allowance) and wash your clothes as you go along. Some hostels might have facilities for you to do it yourself. If not, then at the very least you’ll have a sink in your hotel room. Just remember that in humid places your clothes will take much longer to dry. For 5 days, the basics that you really need are:
  • 2 bottoms (could be skirts, shorts or long trousers)
  • 5 tops (or 4 tops + 1 sundress)
  • A dress for going out
  • 2 bras (sports bras take up less room and dry more easily than padded bras)
  • 5 pants (US Readers- that’s “panties” for you guys!)
  • 1 pair of pyjamas
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of trainers
  • 1 pair of socks for cold buses

Anything more is just more weight on your shoulders and space in your bag  that  could be used for souvenirs! Also, the more clothes you have, the more difficult it is to  plan what to wear every day and the less time you get to spend  exploring, which I guess is what you decided to go traveling for in the first place!

Everything I'm packing for 2 weeks in the Philippines!

Everything I’m packing for 2 weeks in the Philippines!

  1. Shoes-The one thing that is really going to add extra weight to your backpack is shoes. Trust me- you are going to find yourself kicking about in the same flip flops every day. If you are backpacking for a long time you do not need heels! Yes, even wedges. I like to bring a pair of plain black flip flops- not the most glamorous choice ever but I know they won’t clash with what I’m wearing and they’re not too noticeable if I wear them out at night. I doubt anyone will be looking at your feet anyway. My favourites are Havianas. Look into what kind of activities you might like to do before you go- do you need hiking boots? Chances are you can pick them up cheap when you get there but if you have a pair you like and have broken in then bring them along for sure! I tend to just bring trainers and wear them in the airport to save space in my bag.
  2. A Black Dress/Playsuit-Ok, I know that we are trying to streamline here, but just one wee black dress won’t take up too much space! And it’s nice to have in your bag for getting dressed up into/ feeling like a clean, civilised part of society again! I think that black is the perfect colour as you won’t get sick of it. If you bring a dress with a statement print, you’re limited to what you can do with accessories and you’re probably going to feel like you can’t wear it too many times. Yeah, maybe black isn’t the most summery colour, but it always looks good with a tan! And if you’re anything like me, chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time at markets haggling over loads of jewellery that you’ll never look at again when you get back home- pop on your black dress and make that the focus of your outfit.
  3. Yoga Pants– I find yoga pants to be so versatile when I’m traveling. Of course they’re great to have in your bag in case you come across any yoga studios on the road or want to do some other workout. But they’re also great for wearing to the airport, on long bus journeys and just lounging around in general. If you get ones that go below your knee then they can double up as something to wear visiting temples. I really like the range at Forever 21 – they have really cute colours and, of course, they’re reasonable in price which is always good!

Toiletries

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  1. Coconut Oil- This is my favourite all round product when I’m traveling! Everyone raves about the health benefits of adding coconut oil to your diet, I didn’t realise all the other things I could do with it. When I’m traveling I take a small bottle and use it as an after sun, eye make-up remover (I was really surprised to discover this) and a hair treatment. Definitely a must have in my toiletries bag!
  2. Lush- I love Lush! I can’t walk past it without going in for a wee sniff at everything! If you’re just taking hand luggage you’re restricted on what liquids you can take on board. Lush’s solid shampoos and conditioners are a god send for saving liquid space and they last for ages.lush products
  3. Make Up- So you’re trying to fit everything into 20×20 cm bag- the first thing to ditch is your primer, your highlighter and your extra 5 lipglosses. Keep it simple! If you’re in hot climates it’s not good for your skin to wear so much make up anyway. For me, I pack a BB Cream with a high SPF, bronzer, mascara, eyeliner and lipbalm. Work out what your basic is, and go with it. Don’t take more than you need, but don’t take less than you feel comfortable with either. It might be difficult for you to get things that suit your skin tone when you’re away so make sure you strike the right balance.

    All I need for my travels

    All I need for my travels

  4. Invest in a Good Sun Cream- If you are like me, and suffer from breakouts then there’s one liquid you should pack before you go- it’s a high factor sun cream that suits your skin type. It should be easy to get a big bottle for your body (and face if you’re lucky enough not to have sensitive skin) when you land, and probably for less than you would pay at home. But a bottle of oil free factor 50 might be more difficult to find. Do your research, look at reviews and buy a good one before you leave. For those of you in Korea, I recommend The Face Shop’s “Sebum Control” range if you have oily skin.
  5. Spot Cream- This is another one for those of you who suffer from breakouts. If you’re trying to save space, chances are you can’t fit all your skincare products in your toiletry bag. One thing not to leave at home is your spot cream. Your skin is probably going to go mental in the new climate so you’re going to need it! I find salicylic acid to be really quick and effective but it can cause photosensitivity so make sure you are wearing a high SPF if you decide to use it. For something more gentle and natural, try tea tree oil.

Electronics

  1. SD Card- Rather than carry around your kindle, Ipod and phone, why not get a large memory card for your phone. I recently got a 64GB memory card for my phone which is perfect for storing all my books and music on, meaning I only need to take my phone away with me! It’s also perfect for backing up pictures on the go!
  2. Ditch the Hairdryer- If you’re going somewhere hot, you’re really don’t need your hairdryer! But what if your hair goes mental in the humidity? This year I got a procedure done in Korea called “Magic Straight” and it was indeed magic! Magic Straight is basically chemical straightening. It lasts 6 months and my hair was poker straight every day without even blow drying it- even when it was humid. Few places offer this outside of Korea but other similar options are a keratin blow dry or a loose perm if you prefer a wavy look. Definitely worth 5 hours in the hairdresser’s chair for 6 months of good hair days!

And of course, don’t forget your passport and camera!

I hope these tips can encourage some of you to minimise your luggage! I definitely don’t think I could have coped with a huge backpack in the Indian heat and I really think I enjoyed my trip more because of my small bag. Obviously, you make some sacrifices but it really is eye opening to see how much you can live without! Next time you go away, leave your wedges, huge make up bag and million extra playsuits at home! See how it works out for you.

Do you try to pack light when you travel? What are your tips? Leave me a comment in the box below.

 

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. If you buy a product through my links I will earn a *tiny* amount of commission. These are products that I love, and I hope you do too!

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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Julia
    25th January 2016 at 8:41 am

    Love this guide. I am off to India/Thailand/Bali soon and these are all things on my list too. As for the Lush solid conditioners and shampoos – how do you store them as you travel – in a hard plastic case?

  • Reply
    Julia
    25th January 2016 at 8:48 am

    Love this. Off to India/Thailand/Bali soon too so hoping to minimise my packing, and these items have always been my priority.

    Just a question about the solid shampoos and conditioner – did you have a plastic case to carry them around in?
    Julia recently posted…Naked Tales from Marrakech: My Hammam ExperienceMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th February 2016 at 10:29 am

      Hey, thanks! Yeah, they actually sell metal cases in Lush which are the perfect sizes for the shampoos/conditioners 🙂

  • Reply
    Natasha
    28th January 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Well now I’m just going to scrap my packing list blog draft because I say pretty much all the same things as you! I’m addicted to Lush solid shampoos. I love the coconut one & it lathers great for a shaving cream as well. A friend of mine makes a natural deo that I swear by too (www.ohmygaia.com), I tossed 2 jars in the freezer before I got on a plane to Asia (so they’d be solid) and they went through in my carry-on just fine. I pretty much live in 4 dresses & 2 bikinis.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th January 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Great mind think alike! Lush shampoos are such a game changer, going to stock up before I do my big trip. Freezing carry on liquids is an amazing tip! Why did no one think of that sooner?? Will definitely look into the natural deos, always looking for new travel beauty products 🙂

    • Reply
      Stephanie
      28th January 2016 at 2:56 pm

      I never knew about the solid shampoos until this post. What a genius idea. I just used my first Lush bath fizz this weekend. I might be in love!
      Stephanie recently posted…My 5 Favorite Blizzard ActivitiesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    28th January 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Ah, light packing. A skill I once mastered, but now I am always in such a rush I either pack too much or end up forgetting something important. My tip is to pack in advance so you have time to thoroughly plan and make a list!!!! I brought two dresses that didn’t even fit on my last trip and no shirts aside from the one I was wearing.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    28th January 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I just used my first lush product! I loved it! I didn’t even consider it in terms of packing to reduce liquids. Fabulous idea!
    Stephanie recently posted…My 5 Favorite Blizzard ActivitiesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    28th January 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I love Lush products! Just used my first one this weekend. Had no idea about the solid shampoo and conditioner. What a great idea. Also, my number one packing tip is to make a list and pack in advance!! I can’t believe some of the disastrous last minute packing jobs I have done!!
    Stephanie recently posted…My 5 Favorite Blizzard ActivitiesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    28th January 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Excellent tips! I also wrote my packing list just last week! So funny to see we actually share the same attitude about a minimalist travelling style! Well done!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th January 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks Sabrina! So curious to check your article out now 🙂 Minimalist traveling is the way forward, I couldn’t imagine humphing a huge back pack around anymore!

  • Reply
    Toni
    28th January 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Great tips! I can’t pack too lightly these days, but some very good ideas on what we really dont need or ways to save room by packing certain items. Love it!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks Toni, glad you like it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah Harding
    28th January 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Great post with some really useful advice. I always pack one black maxi dress which is like my dressing up item, it has come in so handy and I wouldn’t go without it. Didn’t know coconut oil was so useful though, might have to invest in some!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks Sarah! I can’t go anywhere without a good old handy black dress- you never know when you might need it! Coconut oil is amazing, and also great for cooking with… an all round lifesaver really 🙂

  • Reply
    Cassie @ Cass Travels
    28th January 2016 at 7:35 pm

    This is so impressive – I cannot pack light to save my life. Case in point, I had a full roller bag for a weekend in Paris with SEVEN pairs of shoes 🙊🙈🙉

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Oh My God!! 7 pairs of shoes for one weekend, that is impressive! If there’s anywhere in the world worth packing 7 pairs of shoes for, I’d say it would definitely be Paris 🙂

  • Reply
    Karin
    28th January 2016 at 10:41 pm

    The coconut oil is the best thing ever! My skin is crazy so I love to use the one that is actually meant for cooking 😀 I also use cocoa butter – you can get it really cheap and pure in Colombia – for my lips, eyes, all kinds of irritations and it is wonderful.
    Karin recently posted…Banská Bystrica unveiled: a thrifty travel guideMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Great tip! Columbia is really high up on my travel bucket list so I’ll definitely invest in some cocoa butter when I’m there 🙂

  • Reply
    Angie
    28th January 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Excellent packing tips! I didn’t do much backpacking in my past travels but these tips would have been great. Now I’m married with 2 younger kids and when we travel we share suitcases. It keeps luggage costs down and less to haul around. We usually find a place to do our laundry. Thanks again for sharing!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks Angie 🙂 Sharing suitcases sounds like a great way to save on luggage costs space when your traveling!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    28th January 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Decision making is key factor whenever I pack. To choose what to let go and not. Haha. Luckily, you sum it up on these 14 points. 🙂
    Jessica recently posted…5 Reasons to Marry A Guy Who TravelsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th February 2016 at 10:30 am

      It’s always so difficult trying to decide what stays and what goes, what is insta worthy and what isn’t! Oh, the stresses!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    29th January 2016 at 1:25 am

    I just used a lush bath product for the first time!! I had no idea about the shampoo and conditioner in solid forms. Genius!!! Also, my number one packing tip is don’t do it drunk or hungover the morning of your flight!!!!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th February 2016 at 10:31 am

      Hahaha great tip!

  • Reply
    Orli
    29th January 2016 at 7:18 am

    Some really great tips 🙂 I have to say I pack a little less light than you – you won’t catch me without my hair dryer or primer no matter what the conditions of the climate are! I will be sure to add the coconut oil to my list. I had no idea it could do all that!
    Orli recently posted…All about Berlin part 1 – confusion and foodMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Orli! You should definitely jump on the coconut oil bandwagon… I find a new use for it everyday, love it 🙂

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    29th January 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know lush made solid conditioner and shampoo! Genius!
    Stephanie recently posted…My 5 Favorite Blizzard ActivitiesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th February 2016 at 10:31 am

      Yup, they are a game changer!

  • Reply
    Laura
    29th January 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I’m leaving for SE Asia next month and this post is my saving grace. I’ve already purchased the Lush bar but didn’t even think about bringing coconut oil! I use it for literally everything! Great post and thanks so much for sharing – will definitely be referring back!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      29th January 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Aw amazing, thanks Laura! Coconut oil is definitely a must have for me. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures in SE Asia 🙂

  • Reply
    Lottie Reeves
    29th January 2016 at 9:35 pm

    I love the tip ‘pack for 5 days’ Its so true! I always over pack because I pack for waaaaay more days than I need, convinced I need at least one outfit for EVERY day I am away 🙂 Thanks!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      1st February 2016 at 9:29 am

      It’s difficult to get into… especially with facebook shaming you all the time! x

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    29th January 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I love LUSH products! I’ve never tried the solid conditioner and shampoo, but now I must!!
    Stephanie recently posted…My 5 Favorite Blizzard ActivitiesMy Profile

  • Reply
    Related Website
    4th April 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Rather nice post. I merely stumbled upon your weblog and planned to point out that I’ve definitely enjoyed shopping your blog post articles skin care products for sensitive skin. In any case I am signing up to your supply with this particular wanting you’re all over again soon!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      5th April 2016 at 9:54 am

      Great, thanks!

  • Reply
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    Lauren
    2nd August 2016 at 5:38 am

    YESS! Coconut oil forever! I totally feel you on the whole treating a trip like a fashion show thing. After a few years, I eventually realized it’s better to focus on enjoying the trip instead of how I look in photos. Excellent list!

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      Nicole Louise
      2nd August 2016 at 10:59 am

      Hey fellow gypsy girl! Coconut oil is almost as essential as my passport! Love it 🙂

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