Jill Paider is travelling photographer, author and also now a packing expert.
Living out of a holdall bag, Paider has travelled 91 countries without ever checking a bag. It is an experience she has turned into a book, Carry-On Only: Confessions from 100 countries, which is – very efficiently – stuffed with tips and tales that could make you a better traveller.
The New Zealand Herald unpacked her top travel tips.
WHAT BAGS TO TAKE?
Paider always takes “a roll-aboard and an underseat bag, all packed to the gills”, she told Travel and Leisure.
While some airlines will insist on being able to pack carry-on into a single item of luggage, a tote bag or spare handbag can afford you extra space and help spread out your weight allowance.
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The important thing is to be able to comfortably carry your own belongings.
“It’s important, especially when travelling alone – which I often am – to have the ability to carry your own things.”
Carrying fewer things can free you up to get around by bike, bus or other transport, she said.
HOW DO YOU SHED EXCESS WEIGHT WHILE PACKING?
Paider always prints a “master checklist” to “be sure I have all the basics – vitamins, medications, toiletries, adaptors, chargers, etc.”
She has a three-step process. After first making sure the essentials from her checklist are all there, the second step is packing specifics for your destination.
“I think about what I’ll need based on climate, temperature, functions I’ll attend, and what I’ll be doing,” she said.
Eliminating items as she goes, the final step is to work out if there’s any spare allowance for nice-to-haves.
“I usually focus on bringing nicer outerwear, like a good jacket, because that’s what people see. Then I’ll add layers – T-shirts, tank tops, and shirts – that are lower density to pack,” she told Travel and Leisure.
ROLL OR FOLD?
Paider rolls everything. Rolling clothes tightly not only saves on space – it also avoids putting crease lines in your outwear. A top tip is to roll you clothes in advance to keep everything compact:
“I do it the night before so that all the air is out and I can squeeze the clothes into the bag. They are a bit more compact that way.”
SHOES: HOW MANY PAIRS ARE ENOUGH?
This depends on destination, but it’s important to have a good pair of “all-rounders” that you can fall back on in most situations.
“Finding the perfect all-purpose shoe is key,” she says. Paider’s fallback is a pair of solid boots “because you can walk in them all day and then wear them with a dress or leggings if you’re going out to dinner, and it’s still acceptable”.
THE ONE ITEM TO NEVER LEAVE WITHOUT
A scarf is Paider’s must-have travel item. Helping her “perk up” outfits – which is helpful when you’re on the road for 90 days – they are a great way to add warmth. Scarfs have the added bonus of taking up little room and can be worn while travelling.
UNPACK OR LIVE OUT OF A SUITCASE?
Paider says she always unpacks when she arrives at her accommodation “so I can see exactly what I have”. As well as staying on top of laundry and how many clean clothes you have left, it helps keep your belongings in order.
“It’s easier in the morning to get dressed when everything is organised,” she said.
THE ONE ITEM TO INVEST IN?
Having embarked on a challenging round-the-world trip in 2011-12 with only carry-on luggage, Paider found that a down jacket was the ultimate packable overlayer.
Taking in the Middle East, South East Asia, China and Japan, she needed a versatile item that would be easy to take anywhere.
“The weather changes made it difficult; some places were hot, some cold. But I still made it work,” she said.
“Now there are so many packable down jackets that are still warm and don’t take up very much space.”
TOP TIPS FOR OVER-PACKERS?
“Less is more,” is Paider’s compact answer. It’s a lot simpler to get rid of items before you go rather than jettisoning items on the road. “You’ll make it easier on yourself if you edit before you travel.”
Plan your outfits and use hotel laundry services as you go. There’s no point in lugging around more dirty clothing than you need to.
Lastly, Paider says comfortability should be your guiding packing principle.
“Don’t bring any shoes you can’t walk in comfortably,” she said.
WHY “CONFESSIONS FROM 100 COUNTRIES” INSTEAD OF 91?
The more astute of you will realise that Paider’s book is titled “confessions from 100 countries”, not the 91 she claims to have travelled on with carry-on only.
To this question Paider says that is accurate with regards to her travel. However, there are some trips that are too big to do with carry-on only.
As anyone who has had their luggage weighed by a budget airline will know, what is defined as a carry-on size is a moving goalpost. However, 91 per cent isn’t bad.
This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission