Bon voyage: A home away from home this summer with everyday comforts

As we approach summer holiday season and jet off to foreign climes, a suitcase packing strategy and including everyday comforts can make it a home from home, writes Carol O’Callaghan.

The typical travel anxiety is watching as the airport baggage carousel belches out suitcases and fellow travellers hoist theirs off while you’re left standing, waiting, convinced yours is winging its way to an alternative destination.

Or what about this version? Yours is the last one to appear, minus the lid which, inexplicably, has been ripped off somewhere between the airports of departure and arrival.

That particular bête noir was my reality at Heathrow late one night, where the only thing which saved my belongings from being littered inside the bowels of a 737 was a last-minute decision to pack a towel which I laid over my clothes and tied with the internal suitcase straps.

It meant not a single item, including a slew of Christmas presents, was missing.

As a matter of course I now add a towel as a topping to my packing design if I know I’m checking in a bag, or in case a certain airline doesn’t like the size of my case at the departure gate and hikes it off to travel steerage.

It offers peace of mind if a little less space in the bag.

Having said that, until last year I could not pack a suitcase to save my life.

I could, however, create an Instagram-worthy picture of orderliness, but arriving to my holiday destination I’d find at least one-third of its contents were things I wouldn’t wear routinely, but for some reason believed I’d wear on holiday.

Through trial and error and with invaluable direction from a friend who has made packing a well-developed craft, I finally nailed it on a recent trip abroad with what is now my packing manifesto.

  • 1. Buy the lightest suitcase possible, in fabric so it expands, and with integrated wheels. Fashionable rigid ones rolling on castors means the all-important case is smaller, as the castors are included in the overall measurement of the case.
  • 2. Airlines weigh our luggage not ourselves, so remove the warm but bulky and heavy woolly jumper from the case and wear it travelling, freeing up space for other necessities.
  • 3. Do you really need the weighty and awkwardly shaped hairdryer? Hotel versions may not be super-hot and fast but the extra space in the case by leaving it out means fitting in a must-have pair of shoes.
  • 4. Lay everything out on a bed before packing and aim to take away a third. This proportion seems to be the magic amount by which we overpack. I’ll attest to that one.
  • 5. Rolling clothes rather than folding makes more space and helps minimise creases as a bonus.
  • 6. Utilising space insides shoes for rolls of socks, undies and small items is a revelation.

Now for the dreaded liquid restrictions if traveling with just hand luggage.

  • 1. Opt to buy sunscreen, shampoo, conditioners and shaving foam at your destination.
  • 2. Free up space in the obligatory plastic bag for liquids by taking powdered toothpaste instead of a tube. It now means you can have extra lipsticks or a travel size aftershave, while the powder toothpaste slots into a corner of your luggage.
  • 3. Think if it’s really necessary to include your entire palette of cosmetics. In a hot climate, you’re less likely to wear much make-up, and that stuff is weighty.

Finding space to take reminders of home makes such a difference to our well-being, especially if travelling regularly for work when we’d rather be at home.

  • 1. There’s a reason why hotels often provide towelling slippers. Pack your own and put them on as soon as you arrive in your room.
  • 2. Hang everything up and deposit your toiletries in the bathroom to create a lived-in feeling.
  • 3. Taking a scented candle can recreate the familiar atmosphere of home.
  • 4. A book is grounding and reconnects with your routine just by reading a few pages a night.
  • 5. Bring much-loved flavours with you. I won’t travel as near as Waterford without a flask of tea in the car, so it’s teabags to the ready for trips abroad. Bring your pillow if you’re driving to your destination or have a big enough case to accommodate it. Even the pillowcase for comfort and familiarity can help induce a better night’s sleep in a strange environment and is a winner with children unsettled by a day of travelling and feeling out of sorts.

Packing everything you need into a suitcase can be challenging when preparing for a trip, but with practice and dispensing with unnecessary items, it ensures success.

Bringing your own pillow if luggage space allows. It creates a connect with home and is particularly comforting for children unused to being away.

Restrictions with liquids when travelling with hand luggage only means considering alternatives to typical cosmetics and toiletries and reducing down quantities.

Unpacking necessities like toothbrush and facecloth on arrival at your destination creates a sense of being at home and makes the holiday accommodation feel like your own.

Take some favourite snacks and a quantity of your must-have beverage for early morning and late night rituals.


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