Once you've chosen a destination and booked a trip, the next big decision is about packing. There's so many different opinions out there about what's best. But you are the only one who knows what is right for you.
Here's a couple of the most common debates when it comes to packing, and some pros and cons for each option. Roll clothes or fold them? Suitcase or backpack? Read our handy guide and make your decision wisely...
Rolling clothes vs folding
By tightly rolling your clothes, it makes them more compact and easier to pack. It also cuts down on creases for many smaller items. Rolling is ideal for synthetic fabrics, such as nylon as these are less likely to wrinkle than natural fabrics, such as cotton. Rolling works well for shorts, socks, synthetic t-shirts and singlets, pajamas and tracksuit pants.
To roll your jeans, just fold them lengthways so that the legs are stacked on top of each other. Now, starting from the cuff, roll your way up. For t-shirts, place face down and fold the arms back. You should now have a long rectangle. Then fold this lengthways and roll up.
If you've got clothes that wrinkle easily, such as cotton shirts or pants, folding is the way to go. Folding items along the creases they are supposed to have, for example, along the creases of jeans or pants seems to work well, but unwanted creases can show up where the garment is folded in half.
For windcheaters and other tops that aren't t-shirts, the square fold is best. You should firstly do up all buttons and lay shirts face down on a bed or flat surface. Smooth away wrinkles. Fold material in at the shoulders and lay arms flat along the body so that you create about two-inches of overlap on both sides. Now fold up a third of the material from the bottom and overlap a third from the top. You should now have a tidy package that will fit neatly into any suitcase.
Suitcase vs backpack
A suitcase with wheels can be really handy when travelling, as you've got easy access to the contents and they are less likely to get caught in baggage conveyors/ Due to their size, suitcases are easier to store and they're great in airports and hotels when you can just roll them smoothly along behind you.
However, there are some disadvantages You can't carry most suitcases for more than a few minutes. So from the moment you decide to take a suitcase instead of a backpack you are essentially stuck taking taxis, cars and booking your hotels and hostels in advance. You lose freedom. This is the advantage of a backpack and for the independent traveller freedom is one of the most important features of the journey.
Backpacks were designed for people planning to travel by foot over considerable distances - explorers, hikers, soldiers etc. They allow the weight to be distributed evenly across the shoulders/hips so that they can be carried comfortably. The fact backpacks are really light makes a big difference, as suitcases can weigh a lot before they have even been filled. So there's less risk of going over the baggage allowance. And if you find yourself in a confined space, it is a lot easier to control your luggage when it's strapped to your back rather than dealing with a suitcase on wheels.
The bad news is, it can be quite tricky to locate all your items in a hurry. They can get quite squished, and often there's pockets and compartments that you need to dig around in. If your backpack is quite heavy, often it can be really difficult lifting it up and onto your back all the time. If you suffer from a back injury, it might be better to stick with a suitcase.
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