Packing perfectly isn’t just about picking the right suitcase or travel bag; it is an adventure on its own, and, packing it with the right contents is an art form. Get it correct, and your journey will be joyful. But, if you pack with no thought in it you will end up strained and bewildered.
I was just 13 years old when I was first asked to pack my own bag for the first time. Coming from a defence background travel was a part of life. Every two years we set off for a new place in India by road in our trusty Maruti Omni whom we lovingly called Paaru. She, along with us, explored different places, terrains, weather conditions and food across the country, from makki ki roti in the north to pongal in the south.
My first long trip as a young girl was Dehradun-Agra-Sagar-Nagpur-Secundrabad-Bangalore. Along these migrations, I picked up some valuable lessons from my parents that have helped me in most of my travels since then, and that I hope will help anyone struggling to pack for longer trips.
To begin, for any trip or journey, plan early and start filling up your suitcase as soon as possible, or you will end up in a last-minute flurry.
Any travel enthusiast will tell you to pack light, the reason being, as you carry your bags from one place to another, you will feel that your suitcase or a backpack is growing bigger and heavier.
The art of packing this way took me some time to master. My parents would make me and my siblings pack, unpack and repack a few times until we got it right. Repeatedly doing this helped us memorise where we put things in the bag, which would help you go through them easily. We were told to lay our belongings which we intended to carry out on our bed to help us organise in advance. This made us think through what we need and then pack things in a sequence as they would be required.
BACK PEDAL PACKING
For a logistically functional bag, we were told to pack in reverse order. The first things put are the last ones to be used. For example, you will need nightwear on the first night of your journey so make sure to keep that for last; while the extra pair of clothing you may not need goes first, that is at the bottom of the bag.
STRUCTURE THE WEIGHT OF YOUR LUGGAGE
Things that weigh a lot should be packed in the centre of your backpack or the bottom of your suitcase. This will make it easier for you to carry the bag, especially in a backpack that is close to your spine and evenly distributes the weight instead of pulling you down.
SORT YOUR THINGS WITH SMALLER BAGS
Organising all your stuff inside you suitcase with smaller bags makes them much easier to find. A separate bag for toiletries, medicines, electronic cords, and for any important documents will help separate all your belongings. An extra pouch or bag for used clothes will also be of help wherever you plan to travel.
CREATE A WALL WITH FOLD, ROLL AND TIE
The packing strategy is to visualise how to place things as bricks and mortar are used to construct a house. Use shoes and smaller bags or pouches as blocks. Tops, shirts, dresses, and pants can be folded in the same manner and placed accordingly as per the size of your bag or suitcase. Finally, roll the skirts, jackets and undergarments to fill in the spaces in between. This will ensure that things will be less prone to move during your journey.
THE RIGHT BAG FOR WHAT YOU NEED
Invest in (or borrow) the RIGHT bag of quality, and strong handles, to make sure your luggage doesn’t tear or give up on you. Fill your bag with only the essentials first; and later, if space permits, with other things.
Eventually, packing for travel is one of those things which became easier for me with practice. Read up on some more amazing packing tips here.
Army travel made farewells a part of our life, making us pros at saying goodbyes and moving on with newer stories, adventures and repacked bags. This is how my childhood went by being an Army Officer’s daughter full of new journeys, possibilities and believing.