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Packing for flying

One bag can do it all

Flying in the last couple of years has becoming steadily more limiting in terms of luggage. Once, a suitcase was free up to 32kg, then it became 23kg and now sometimes I see 20kg, and as for free... well, those days have long past. Once I had hard-case Samsonite suitcases, but these days their empty weight took up half the allowance so they went to the charity shop. Then in came a lightweight suitcase which helped for sure, but still when flying on a low cost airline (or any airline except lo-cost in the USA!) they charge.

So the next option for me has become what do I actually need to take with me when I travel? When I think about my normal outfits I wear day in and day out they tend to revolve around the same few items. Toiletries? Who needs them, I have never found a country where these are not available, and it can give a little adventure straight off the plane to have to go and purchase the few essential items required. I do pack my toothbrush and a tiny tube of toothpaste in case I will be arriving late, but remember virtually all hotels will give you free things if you ask, from tampons to shavers so my advice is do not worry about bathroom things. If you are going for a longer stay you can easily wash socks and underpants in the sink. My packing list was reduced to wearing the heavier items, like shoes and jeans, and then packing the following: Laptop and power supply for work - If you can get a ultraportable notebook, believe me, well worth the extra cost to save carrying an extra kilo.

One spare pair of shoes, a different colour to the ones you wear. I also make sure one pair is good for exercising in - nowadays it is simple to find trainers that can pass for casual shoes.

One spare pair of trousers, usually dressy or as part of a suit.
I wear my suit jacket, and ensure it is one I can wear casually too with my jeans.
2 shirts and 3 t-shirts.
Swim shorts which can double as exercise gear.
A few socks and underpants.
This should still leave space if required for some other bits and pieces applicable to the trip.

Now what kind of bag to use? If you know you are only going to places with no steps and smooth pavements feel free to take a wheeled bag, but the wheels add a lot to the weight and reduce the packing area, and in most of the world you may find wheels more of a hindrance.

The bag I chose is the Red Oxx Sky Train, which comes with built in shoulder straps to use as a rucksack if required. They do make a version without these straps which is cheaper and lighter. The bag is designed to be the maximum size permitted as a carry on and is surprisingly spacious. I managed to take all my required stuff and a pile of my partners clothes inside it.

For more bag info check out which looks at bags for the minimalist traveller and has a number of amusing stories.

Tags : airports

Written : 2011-05-16

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