Your guide to hassle-free travel packing

Boarding a plane to your dream holiday destination can often come with a catch: making sure you’ve packed everything first. Smart packing for your holiday means you can make the most of all your clothes and accessories – along with room to spare for any souvenirs you pick up along the way.

Travel packing

Our team of experts have lined up their top tips for travel packing, whether you’re jetting off for a week or for a year.

Before you pick up your passport, make sure your belongings are safe and sound at home. If you’re looking for somewhere to securely store your bits and bobs while you’re away, try our travel storage options, designed for flexibility if you decide to extend your time away.

Packing advice from our experts: the essentials

Plan ahead

Allow plenty of time to prepare for your holiday. Make a travel packing checklist of essentials well before your trip, including clothing ideas for any activities or special occasions you have planned: you don’t want to ransack your wardrobe the night before, only to find that your favourite jumper’s still in the wash.

Put the essentials somewhere safe

Always keep your non-negotiables in your hand luggage or a cross-body bag, so you’ve got them to hand while you’re on the move. Packing essentials for every type of holiday include;

  • Your passport and travel insurance documents
  • Boarding passes and tickets
  • Medication
  • Bank cards or prepaid travel cards
  • Phone and phone charger

Find the right bag for your travels

The packing process itself begins with your choice of luggage. For shorter trips, a carry-on will usually suffice, while a squashy holdall is a great option to throw in your car for a road trip. If you’ll be travelling from place to place, a comfy backpack will help you explore more easily, while a large suitcase that fits everyone’s clothing in one place is the best solution for long-haul family breaks.

Prep your liquids

It’s happened to all of us; you pack your toiletries in with the rest of your belongings and open your bag once you’ve arrived to find that your shampoo’s leaked everywhere. To stop this from happening, put your toiletries in sealable plastic bags, or pack a waterproof washbag to keep everything safely in one place.

Make sure your shoes can multitask

Save space in your luggage by choosing shoes that can move with you, whatever you choose to do while you’re on holiday. A failsafe option is to go for comfortable trainers or boots, that can take you from walking city streets to exploring more rural areas. If you need a pair of smarter shoes too, throw in a more versatile style that can be mixed and matched with multiple outfits.

Opt for versatile clothing

Similarly, try to pack versatile clothing that you can wear in different ways, to reduce the overall number of items you need to take. Choose thinner basics that can be layered up in case the weather changes. It’s a good idea to pack your go-to comfy clothes, too – long hours travelling will be much more doable if you’re wearing something comfortable.

Add in a reusable bag

Rather than packing multiple day bags, fold a tote into your luggage of choice. A foldable tote bag can come in handy for several reasons – from impromptu shopping to storing dirty clothes – while taking up hardly any space.

Medication and first aid kit

Pack any necessary medications, along with a basic first aid kit. This will ensure you’re well prepared for more common illnesses such as headaches, allergies, or minor injuries.

Use packing cubes

If you’re a frequent flyer or you’re heading on a longer trip, you may want to consider investing in some packing cubes – especially if you’re limited on how much you can take. These are perfect for categorising and compressing your belongings, keeping your luggage organised, and helping you find what you’re looking for more quickly.

Roll, don’t fold

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them saves on valuable packing space. No one wants to spend their holiday over the ironing board, either – this method also helps minimise wrinkles and harsh creases in your clothing once you reach your destination.

Choose lightweight materials

Strategic outfit packing and planning is your best friend when it comes to travel packing. Packing heavier items at the bottom of your bag and lighter, more delicate items on top helps prevent wrinkling and provides extra cushioning for your more fragile items. If you can, stick to travel-friendly materials like cotton, too – opting for lightweight materials will help you dry your clothes quickly, and mean you can roll them up without wrinkling them.

Travel packing for different destinations

Alongside the travel packing essentials necessary for every holidaymaker, you’ll need different options depending on what kind of trip you’re taking.

Packing for a summer backpacking

Prioritise the essentials

Place your essentials in easily accessible pockets, or at the top of your backpack. You’re more likely to need bits and pieces like a refillable water bottle, snacks, and high SPF suncream in easy reach while you’re travelling. Remember you’ll be carrying your backpack from place to place, too – so if you’re not sure how often you’ll use something, it’s best to leave it at home.

Secure small items

Use small pouches or zip lock bags for items such as your toiletries and cables. This prevents them from getting scattered and lost within your bag, as well as nice and dry if the weather turns.

Bring a carabiner

Planning on going swimming while you’re backpacking? A great option is to attach a carabiner clip to the outside of your rucksack that you can attach your wet clothes to and let them dry as you continue exploring.

Packing for a festival

Keep essentials in a smaller bag

Keep your must-haves (your ID, bank card and phone) in a secure bag that you can keep on you at all times. If it’s hands-free, even better.

Pack portable phone chargers

Whilst some festivals do have charging stations, they’re not always good for your timings or your budget. A portable charger can be a lifesaver during a long day at a festival.

Bring a reusable water bottle

Don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle – many can be folded up so you’re not using lots of space, too. Most festivals will have free water stations on tap, so having your own bottle reduces waste and saves you money.

Come prepared for all weather

This is particularly important if you’re heading to a festival in the UK, where the British weather can be unpredictable. Remember suncream, a cap, and a compact rain jacket so you’re prepared for whatever the weather throws at you.

Wear your heaviest shoes

Think boots, durable trainers or even wellies – wearing these on the way to your festival means you’ll save space in your bag, too. Remember, you will do a lot of walking at festivals so wearing your comfiest shoes will help keep your feet cosy from the get-go.

Packing for travelling with kids

Build a list of must-haves for each of your children

You may want to create a checklist of each child’s necessities – don’t forget that one cuddly toy your child just can’t live without. Tick off items as you pack to ensure nothing is forgotten.

Bring an on-the-go first aid kit

We all know how clumsy our little ones can be. Pack a small first aid kit with child-friendly essentials such as plasters, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medications.

Nail those tried-and-tested distraction techniques

No matter how you’re reaching your holiday destination, long journeys can feel endless when your little ones are left unoccupied. Pack books, colouring, games, or electronic devices with headphones to keep kids entertained on the journey.

Packing for a city break

Pack comfortable shoes

You’ll likely only need carry-on luggage for your city break, so save on suitcase space by taking shoes you can wear day or night. Opt for comfortable footwear that will see you through both exploring the city and dressing up at night.

Limit toiletries

Pack travel-sized toiletries or use reusable travel containers. Most hotels provide basic toiletries, so only bring your must-haves to save on space.

Digital documents

Instead of carrying physical documents, store travel documents, any reservations you have made, and maps on your phone. This minimizes the risk of losing important paperwork – or forgetting to bring it.

Packing for a ski holiday

Layered clothing

Pack layers for warmth, including thermal base layers, insulated mid-layers, and waterproof outer clothing. This allows you to adjust to changing weather conditions while you’re out and about.

Travel insurance documents

Whilst you should have travel insurance for every trip you embark on, it’s extra-important for adventure breaks like ski holidays. Ensure you have all your travel insurance documents to hand in case of any emergencies or accidents on the slopes.


Lastly, remember to bring suncream. It may sound unnecessary for a ski trip, but on sunny days on the mountains, those exposed areas like your cheeks are prone to sunburn.

Packing for a beach holiday

Consider microfibre towels

Almost all hotels provide free bathroom towels, but packing an option for the beach can help your rooms stay comfortably sand-free. Choose lightweight and quick-drying microfibre towels for the beach to save space and avoid dirtying your clean hotel towels.

Bring a mesh laundry bag

When you’re going from sea to sand, you’ll usually go through more clothes, more quickly. Pack a mesh laundry bag for your dirty clothes to keep them separated, and help you save on washing when you’re home.

Wherever you’re heading, planning your travel packing in advance will help your trip start smoothly. If you’re looking for more detailed packing advice from our experts, explore our comprehensive packing advice for moving home.