My GIANT suitcase: 4 Packing Mistakes to avoid


After choosing the perfect destination, going through the stress of booking a flight and counting down the days until you go, there comes the dreaded task of packing. I come from a family of overly organised packers. My Mum starts at least two weeks before going away and takes up the entire spare bedroom. My Nan, I would say starts even earlier for her trips and places tissue paper between each item. Fortunately for me I have fought the urge to follow in their footsteps. However, this has led me to some packing mistakes along the way.  Below are a few tips that I hope will help you through the worst part of travelling.

Packing for 87 days in the US

Whilst it was easier to pack for one season… I was still guilty of over-packing. There are 6 pairs of sunglasses!

  1. Choosing the wrong bag

This is one mistake I have made more than once. You need to get your bag right and the rest will follow, but it’s not an easy decision to make.  My first solo trip was for one month to California. I was young and excited so chose to take a backpack. Not an awful choice you might think. However, I also took along a large sports bag with no wheels and that was the worst mistake. Whenever, I moved from one place to another I had to lug both around which proved to be difficult. I also found that, for me, backpacks were difficult to find things in without making a complete mess.

My next mistake when choosing a bag was more recent and one my family are still laughing at me for. Packing for a two-year trip was the most stressful of the trips I have done so far. It’s hard to bundle your entire life, from spring to winter, into one bag. So off I went to buy the biggest suitcase I could find. Not only did I pack more than I needed but I had to put up with comments from complete strangers noting ‘Gosh, that’s a big suitcase!’.


Kitty was very interested in the giant that blocked her heat from the fire

So, take time to consider the type of travelling you will be doing, are you unpacking frequently or staying in one place for a length or time? Will you need to pack for more than one season? And are you able to carry all your items at once without looking like Buck-a-roo?

  1. Overpacking

This leads me to my next mistake and one that you will all have been guilty of at some point. Matt will openly admit that this is one of my worst packing problems. I pack too many pairs of pants (you never know, right??), socks tend to overflow and why do I need twenty t-shirts when I only ever wear the same three?

Over-packing socks

Guilty of too many socks… this isn’t even all of them!

However, a few simple considerations can help you cut down on unnecessary items. I found it much easier to pack for a three-month summer trip than my two-year working holiday. If going on a longer trip, pick up some detergent and go to a local laundry. You won’t need to pack as much if you can clean regularly.

Pack pieces that can be worn over several seasons. I have a denim dress that looks great with tights and boots in the winter, great with leggings in spring and fall and is cool enough to wear with sandals during summer. Just add different accessories and voila!

  1. Don’t pack awkward to wash items

Before leaving the UK I worked for a company that specialised in organic cotton. My wardrobe was full of it. It washes at 30 degrees, not a problem. BUT it cannot be put in the dryer. This has been a problem when road-tripping as sometimes items would not dry in time. But, this was also an issue when we have been in one place for winter and clothes couldn’t be put on the washing line without turning into one big icicle.

Before you depart on your tip take the time to read the care labels on your clothes, you’d be surprised at how many require ‘special’ treatment. Why waste time doing chores when you could be out exploring?

  1. Attempting to use vacuum packs

Now, both me and Matt had a great time using the vacuum packs for the first time, they can squeeze bulky items, such as coats into more manageable sizes in an instant. I would recommend them if you are moving to a new country and are using one place as a base for your exploring.

However, if you are moving from one place to another, don’t be tempted. The main problem is once they are open without a vacuum to re-seal they are far less efficient, it’s not going to be easy to find a vacuum whilst camping in the mountains. Secondly, they tend to squish into awkward shapes making it difficult to fit into a suitcase. Thirdly, they are cheap and therefore don’t tend to last too long.

My advice would be to invest in packing cubes. Having been recommended to me by several people they are on my Christmas list this year for sure! Hint, hint!


Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and make packing for both short and long trips a little easier. Comment below with your packing horror stories and any tips you may have for fellow explorers.



26 thoughts on “My GIANT suitcase: 4 Packing Mistakes to avoid

  1. Hayley Bourne says:

    I’m constantly mocked for the size of my suitcase and unnecessary items. I once took a duffle coat on a tour of Italy – it was the hottest European Summer in recorded history with people jumping in fountains to avoid heat stroke! Not my finest pre-planning. I love this blog.


    • airmailadventures says:

      Glad you are enjoying, I was very nervous about starting it!! It was difficult packing for two years and I will definitely be going home with even more than I arrived with! I think be a planner makes packing even harder, as we like to plan for EVERY possibility, which always leads to taking too much.


  2. Eloise says:

    I am the worlds worse for packing too much! But I like a choice and if I’ve only got a number of outfits to match the number of days, then no choice. Better than I used to be but a long way to go! Eloise at


  3. detourswithoutcoffee says:

    As of recently, I rediscovered the traveler in myself and each trip, I made at least one of these packing mistakes. Some people may view them as minor, but I see it as an issue. Not packing properly could linger a negative feeling and that’s not what you need when traveling. Going forward, I will keep these useful tips in mind, especially Number 2! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leah says:

    Learning how and what to pack is a definite learning curve. For our trip to the UK, we had, between us, one carry-on suitcase, one larger one, and a small backpack each. We needed more clothes for the wet and cool conditions, but we quickly realized we had more than we needed.

    One of the advantages to the UK houses and B&Bs we stayed in was the radiators. Clothes dryers!!! We regularly had wet clothes draped all over the place.

    Last year, in Australia and New Zealand, we travelled carry on for 5 months. No problem! Then again, no need for long underwear, multiple layers, toques, scarves, and mittens in Oz and NZ!


    • airmailadventures says:

      I just got some for $20 (CAD) from amazon called bagail and they have worked fine. I didn’t want to spend too much on them in case they weren’t that useful… but they’ve been great. I’m a messy traveller, when I get somewhere everything comes out the bag as i try to find one thing at the bottom, packing cubes have helped with that too, which is great if you are moving around a lot. Hope this helps, thanks for reading 🙂


  5. Eric Gamble says:

    Darcee & I definitely struggle from time to time with packing. I am somewhat of a minimalist but Darcee likes to bring everything she owns. So I have been working on her to reduce it which she tries. We do use vacuum packs to help but we may start looking into the packing cubes.


    • airmailadventures says:

      My partner and I are the same, he is the ultimate minimalist packer and i want to take everything, just in case! Packing cubes have been useful for me particularly when getting to our destination as it makes it easy to find things. Thanks for reading 🙂


  6. Tif says:

    These Re great tips! My biggest issue traveling the first long trip was overpacking!’ I overpacked way too much, that the next trip my husband and I got smaller bags to make sure we didn’t over pack!! Now I can get 20 days worth of stuff in a single bag!


    • airmailadventures says:

      Its so tough packing for long journeys, packing for the different seasons in Canada proved just too hard hence my giant suitcase. But i have learnt from this… hopefully i can get down to one small bag like you one day! Thanks for reading 🙂


  7. Alexander Popkov says:

    Oh true. packing is almost like sience. Especially for me. My DSLR and lenses weight a lot, so every packing advice dances around them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bernie Jackson says:

    I think we’ve all been there. I get you entirely about the combo of two inappropriate bags – a backpack and a second backpack as my handbag wasn’t my brightest moment. Wearing one to the front and one to the back was fine, but my spatial awareness wasn’t quite up to the job!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cheerfultrails says:

    I have faced overpacking issue alot! During my last trip I bought some small packing pouches that may accomodate upto 10 clothes in them & then stuffed them into my travel bag! This has been really helpful for me! Thanks for sharing you ideas and experience!

    Liked by 1 person

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