Packing tips for messy travellers that might actually work

2019-12-05 18:00 - Anje Rautenbach
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Packing cubes are the holy grail of packing tips for travellers; they say it will change the way you travel, that it will tame your luggage and revolutionise the way you pack.

But what if you are one of those I-live-in-an-organised-mess type of people, will it tame you?

Mostly like not.

I’m a messy packer - or rather - let’s call it a ‘creative packer’; I don’t have a packing system and I know I can’t be the only one.

My problem with packing cubes is that it all works great pre-trip; you colour-code this and that, pack it into your cube, zip it up and voilà, off you go on your adventure with a few bags inside another bag. But as soon as you arrive at your destination the cubes fly in all directions (you will possibly lose one and only find it 163 days later) and you just gooi everything in again when it is time to leave. Colour coordination of this goes here and that goes there flies out of the door.

A cube doesn’t change a thing if you usually don’t do things in a very neat matter (let’s blame it on creativity).

One of the packing tips you often hear is that you should find a packing system and stick to it and that everything has its place. Yes, everything has its place - in a perfect world - but not in the hands of someone who is uses the words: “but this is an organised mess.”

READ: Is social media creating unrealistic travel goals?

Packing Tips for Messy Travellers

Here are a few packing tips that will help you to manage your mess instead of changing your mess into something you are not. Because less face it, once a messy person always a messy person.

  • Messiness begins at home

Every now and then I do a thorough mess-check; I throw useless things away, make a donation and re-organise drawers or a closet. Unfortunately it takes anything from 2 to 6 days before the mess is back in full force. If you can relate to this, do a mess-check a few days before departure, it makes packing easier.

  • Pre-packing

Don’t just start packing; there is no way that you’ll remember what items already went into your bag. Lay it all out on your bed and only take the necessary items. Emphasis on necessary. If you know that you haven’t used a certain item on your previous trip, chances are good you won’t use it again on your next trip.

  • Rock n roll n stuff

Rolling your clothes will work pre-departure, and yes, it is a smart move and somehow helps you to fit more things into your bag but if you are in a hurry (especially once the trip is over and you don’t care about wrinkles anymore), there is no time for rolling. You can do a fold-n-stuff. Stuffing your clothes into your bag will then be your best bet; start by putting it into corners and just jam the rest in with force to eliminate any wasted space, sleeves do not necessarily have to travel together and they can go into different corners.   

Take note: Don’t do this if you are prone to wear clothes with a brand name.

  • Screw the cubes or organisers, grab something else

If you find the insides of your closet often on the floor then cubes are not for you. And packing organisers (like one of those hanging shoe organisers) are also a myth. Take a reusable and washable bag (or pillow case) with you for your dirty laundry. You will most likely not be able to handle anything more than one or two extra bags within your bag.

Take note: If you are a budget traveller I firmly believe that packing cubes is a waste of money. Use what you have to double as a packing cubes (pillow cases etc.) if the idea of packing cubes piques your interest.

READ: 11 Unusual travel words to inspire wanderlust... kind of

  • Masking tape is your travel buddy

A shampoo or toothpaste explosion is a possibility and it is an inside job.  Instead of just carelessly tossing your liquids into a Ziploc bag rather tape up the caps securely with masking tape.

Take note: If you are prone to having ‘oops-oh-no’ moments, this tip is for you.

  • Thread and Needle (another friend)

Seams of pants and other things can unravel an item of clothing into a useless piece of material; instead of abandoning your clothes, just fix it.

Take note: If you are a traveller with a bit of bad luck from time to time, pack a needle and some thread (especially if you go away for a long period).

  • Pack a scarf/sarong or two

A scarf can cover up a stain on your shirt (you’re messy, remember?), double as a towel, a bed sheet, an item of clothing or even – with some clever knot tying – a bag.

READ: Tips to save money when your travelling feet and passport trump your savings plan

  • Electronics

Welcome to your nightmare of entangled cords. Good luck and have a safe trip.

You know those perfectly curated flat lay photos travellers often take of their gear before departure? Ja, that’s not you. As a messy traveller, the best thing you can do to keep your electronics safe, secure and all in one place is to have a dedicated drawer or cupboard or something for it at home – it eliminates the where-is-this-where-is-that breakdowns whilst packing.

Take note: Always keep your electronics and all its pieces – from cables to chargers – in your carry-on while flying.

  • How to pack underwear

There is no how to. Just pack it.

  • Bless the mess

If you are visiting a country that is notorious for opening bags at airport security or border control, a mess might put a security officer off from rummaging heavily through your bags. But even if he/she does some major digging, it will still be a mess. Win-win?

  • Master your mess

Or not. Who are you kidding?

Anje Rautenbach is the writer behind the blog Going Somewhere Slowly, find her Facebook,Twitter  or on Instagram!