Deciding what you will need for your trip, especially if you are going away for a while, and then managing to fit all your ‘essentials’ into your bag can be somewhat of a challenge. Add to this size and weight limitations with specific airlines and checked-baggage fees and you’ve got a big task on your hands.

Not to mention keeping your belongings safe and clean and your essentials on hand so you don’t have unpack your entire bag every time you need your charger. To make this process easier, we have put together a few tips and tricks on how to pack smarter for your next trip that we have learned along the road.

Make a list of your essentials (and then a separate list of extra items)

Before you even begin packing things in your bag, you need to make a list. In fact, you need to make two lists: one for your essentials and one for your extras.

On your essentials list, jot down everything you literally could not travel without. This might include your passport, sun screen, underwear, a couple of clothing items…you get the picture.

Then, jot down a list of extras. This could be anything from an extra pair of shoes you could live without or an extra outfit you will probably will never wear. Listing them from high to low priority will also help when it comes to deciding what stays and what goes.

Once you have packed all your essentials and you are happy they fit comfortably in your bag, then it’s time to move on to your essentials. Because you have listed them in order of priority, it should be easy to just start packing the items in your bag one by one until you have no more room left.

Top tip: Leave some extra wiggle room for if you make any spontaneous purchases while you are travelling or start your travels and realise you have left off a few essentials. This also leaves room for snacks and water when travelling overland.

Use waterproof luggage organisers

Luggage organisers literally changed the game when it comes to packing, especially if you have a back pack. Not only do they organise your things, they protect your items from getting wet, dirty, or damaged. You can even try compression bags which vacuum-pack your clothes into a tight bundle so they take up minimum space.

When taking a boat trip from the Gili Islands back to Bali, our two backpacks were thrown on the top of the boat. As the boat set sail the rain came down. And it doesn’t just rain in Bali, it POURS. The waves were covering the boat and everyone inside sat slightly (OK, VERY) anxious in their life jackets.

Thankfully, we returned to shore safe and sound, just a little shaken up and sea sick. Surprisingly, our bags remained on the top deck and despite an attempt by the sailers to cover the luggage with a waterproof sheet due to the storm that was brewing the sky prior to departure, we were thrown our soaking wet bags from the deck. As you can imagine everything inside was soaked too and that was our lesson learned – ALWAYS DOUBLE BAG YOUR BELONGINGS!

Have your liquids and electrical’s handy

Travelling through airports with your liquids and hand luggage can be somewhat of a headache at times. Having to unpack your bag and dig around in all your personal belongings while other travellers and the airport staff stand around clock-checking can be a little off-putting.

It can be really useful to have your bag of liquids and electric items in a separate bag so that you can simply pull the smaller bag out of your much larger bag and pop your bits and bobs in the trays. It helps if the bag you are using is lightweight, such as a cotton tote bag, because you can easily fold it up when it’s not in use. Plus, cotton tote bags double up as a beach bag or a shopping bag!

This can also be useful for when you get on the plane and you want to quickly grab your on-board entertainment essentials from your bag without holding up the queue of people trying to get to their seats. Pop all your bits and bobs such as headphones, books/e-readers, chargers, and snacks and water in a separate bag and simply pull it out of your larger bag when you get to your seat.

Keep your valuables to hand and separate from your main luggage

If you check in your baggage, there is a chance it could get lost in transit so you will want to make sure you have your valuables and essential items on you at all times. If you are travelling with electrical items such as your laptop and camera, keep them in a cabin bag together with your money, passport, jewellery, hotel and flight confirmation, phone and chargers, mini toiletry pack and anything else you can think of.

Even if all you are carrying is a cabin bag, which is usually the case when travelling with a backpack on short-haul flights, make sure you have a separate bag (similar trick as above) with your valuables in and keep it in sight at all times.