Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile

by Heddi Cundle / Sep 29, 2011 / 0 comments

This title is a full name of a famous World War 1 song, published in 1915 and a great tradition in England to sing…at any time a trip is being planned. So now we’re going to utilize this song in a different fashion when it comes to the heavy topic of overflowing suitcases for a trip, and here’s a little true story to understand where I’m coming from:

My ex boss once was so busy racing to get to Estonia on business, he grabbed his suitcase, ran out the door, raced through the airport with his suitcase as hand luggage, threw his suitcase in the overhead cabin, galloped into a cab in Estonia, checked in at his hotel, slung his suitcase on the bed, opened it and realized….he’d not packed anything! The suitcase was empty as empty can be. In his rush to get overseas, he’d obviously achieved the ultimate in packing nothing.

We’ve all been there in one capacity or another – not the full extent of my ex boss’s story but either overloading on suitcases or forgetting important items. I spent most of 2009 hopping around Europe for personal and work trips to over 26 cities so by the third trip, I had packing down to a fine art. There were items I always needed like toiletries, which I kept in my suitcase, even when it was stored in my closet. These were duplicates of items I already had in my bathroom so that was an easy task. But the main other items…I had a strategy. Keep to the basics at all times. For a weekend away in Siena, I did NOT need 10 sweaters, 15 t-shirts and 4 ball gowns. It was unnecessary and ridiculous. I packed the least of everything instead: 5 t-shirts, 2 sweaters, 1 jacket, 2 pairs of trousers, a cute dress, 2 pairs of ‘good’ shoes, one pair of sneakers & 1 pair of flip-flops. From this, I then had room in my suitcase to a: carry it without male testosterone assistance and b: had room in my luggage to buy new items without needing to purchase an additional suitcase during my travels to accommodate impulse purchases and gifts. Gifts primarily were foreign treats for my dog. Yes, her gifts get first dibs on taking up space in my suitcase at all times. Everyone else can wait!

So before you start piling everything but the kitchen sink into your carry on for a business or social trip, take heed and remember that your shoulders maybe also need a break from lugging things around. The last thing you want to be doing is spending 45 minutes sat on your suitcase to realize that you’re about 7 minutes away from breaking the zipper and then spending 1 hour removing essential items so your 25 pairs of socks can fit in neatly. When’s the last time you actually needed 25 socks at home? Yes….never!

Also, when you’re packing, don’t fold items because they will crease and you’ll spend the whole trip ironing items to then bring them home, un-worn, because you exceeded on cotton. Just roll up each item into a rolling pin style and fit these in rows alongside the other items. You can then see them clearly when you unpack and they won’t crease. Trust me on that.

Always have some basics in your hand luggage like one piece of underwear, a toothbrush and mini toothpaste, essential toiletries and a sweater. Do this even if you are taking your suitcase as hand luggage because there are times, at hotels, I’ve seen people racing back to the airport because they left their hand luggage on the flight when they arrived. It happens to the best of us. Enjoy your travels and remember that buying local products also helps the country’s economy. From this, you have a light suitcase, all the essentials you need and the space to buy more items whilst giving back to the local industry. So stop packing your troubles and start packing smarter… you know it makes sense!


From Heddi at an online travel gift card where you gift, save, plan, share and book travels. You can do any or all this on myTab & it’s a whole new way to travel. BTW, set a reminder to check myTab’s new design upgrade 3rd week October. It’s fun, interactive & going to blow your mind away…maybe to another continent!

Heddi is the Social Butterfly Travel Editor for Wandering Educators