I’ve been travelling around the Caribbean for the last month and it’s safe to say I know a lot more now than I did leaving Dublin. I should’ve been able to pack like a pro considering the amount of times I’ve done it in the past year. But I wanted to wait before publishing this post, so I could share as many practical packing tips as possible. I’ve learned many lessons in the last four weeks on the road, but I can’t say I’d necessarily pack differently (maybe just less!), because I’ve been in a lot of different scenarios. Watch this video I made in Mexico repacking to come home and more packing tips with links to buy. One little carry on doesn’t lend well to the weather leaving Dublin and travelling through London to the Caribbean in winter, all the tech gear a travel blogger lugs around, five star luxury private island resorts, a week of sailing on a 40 foot boat (grand in terms of yachts, tiny if you’re talking living space) and more airports, ferries, taxis, buses, golf carts, trains and planes than I can remember. Although I do recall that one bicycle in Jumby Bay though (evidence here).
So, my packing tips, from the top:
A sturdy and stylish, water resistant, wipe clean travel bag with zip. After a lot of consideration, I chose the Kinsale black leather Kane Weekender with tan straps (I’m obsessed with the Taupe too and they also sell the bags in Arnotts).
The leather smells absolutely divine and they’re handmade in Kinsale, in Ireland – a definite bonus. This one is really neat, fits my 13 inch Macbook Air and it’s unisex too, handy if you want yer fella to carry it!
The suitcase is from Penneys. A ‘four wheel drive’ suitcase, which is by no means the technical term, is a must for me. Choose something that is lightweight but robust.
2. Colour palette, creating a capsule wardrobe
I’ve managed to curate my wardrobe over the past year or two and stick to a simplified colour palette which makes mixing and matching easier. Classic colours like black, white and neutrals never go out of fashion. I mix it up with some flirty florals or prints so it doesn’t get boring. In terms of textures I go with leather, denim, jersey and cotton, nice and natural.
For any hot destination I’ll always pack; faded vintage Levi shorts, black/white/grey tshirts and vests, a white shirt, a few bikinis, a soft cotton grey sarong which can be used as a scarf or blanket on the plane, a black body con dress, a crochet cover up, and black jeans as my staples. For accessories, I go for tan leather like this fringed Fossil bag I picked up in the outlet at Kildare Village and the ‘Simple Sandal’ from Shop A Pair And A Spare (a birthday present this year from my fab pals), a straw hat (this one is from Topshop), Céline Catherine sunglasses and white plimsoles (Keds this time, but I usually get the €3 Penneys ones and chuck ’em after each trip).
I do the ‘one in one out’ rule if I want to buy something new while travelling. It means my suitcase won’t be overweight on the return journey and prevents me from buying crap I don’t need when I remember I’ll have to sacrifice something I already own. It makes more sense to stick with wearable classics that’ll serve you over a longer period than stuff that goes out of fashion really quickly and you’ll cringe at looking back on the holiday snaps.
More travel packing tips and tricks
- Roll don’t fold – simply because it makes it easier to find things in your suitcase, it’s a myth that rolling prevents creases
- Carry a spare foldable lightweight duffel bag. Mine is by a brand called ‘Travel Inspira’ and zips up into a tiny pouch. Handy if your case is overweight or you need to separate stuff for different parts of your trip. It’s all I brought sailing and left the big suitcase behind.
- Bring a few zip lock bags, they’ll come in handy for snacks, wet swimwear, likely-to-leak toiletries, you name it
- Separate essentials into soft fabric pouches such as clean/dirty underwear, electronics, sandy shoes etc
- Luggage tags, just in case. This one and the matching passport holder are both from Penneys
- Keep a spare set of underwear, a bikini, a sarong, a pair of sandals, your toothbrush and any meds in your hand luggage. If you’re stranded without your check-in case, you’ll manage for 24 hours.
- Check the baggage allowance and luggage restrictions each time you fly. Every airline has their own set of rules and they vary wildly, plus they’re prone to change a lot, so make sure you read the small print and aren’t lumped with an excess fee at the airport
- I think by now it goes without saying to pack liquids over 100ml in your check-in luggage, but time and time again I’m held up at security by someone trying to smuggle a mega deodorant can through. You can bring a razor in your hand luggage though. And a lighter, just FYI. More airport travel tips here.
- Carry an empty water bottle to fill up once you get through security to avoid crazy airport prices, you’ll find more money saving travel tips in this post.