outside the Goyard Store in Paris


I have been meaning to write a packing- for- travel blog post for a very long time. Every year in January, and then again around July, my Instagram feed is full of people I follow all around the world bemoaning their lost luggage. I like to think that due to my extremely practical side, I have pretty much bullet proofed myself on this.

 Karl Lagerfield's luggage - he travels light


When once travelling home to Adelaide (from Melbourne where we lived at the time) to attend a Black Tie wedding in the country our luggage was lost by the airline. We had no carryon bags with us,  and the decidedly lackadaisical approach by the airport staff to finding our suitcase was worrying ("we'll send a message to Alice Springs where the other plane was heading as it might have gone there, hopefully they'll get back to us tomorrow, but the airport's closed now"). Fortunately our suitcase was returned about 20 minutes before we had to get in the car to drive the couple of hours to the country wedding the next day, so all was fine and we arrived correctly attired. But that incident, coupled with a view I once glimpsed of the lost luggage room in LA airport (it was vast, and filled with a sea of black suitcases, some tied with a red ribbon to distinguish them) I have worked a few things out.




My first travel tip is:

Buy a suitcase in any colour that is not black

If you want someone to pick up yours by mistake on the conveyor belt, then black is the colour to choose. It's also not very distinguishing when you are describing to lost luggage what your bag looks like. I remember watching former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer talking on a news program once about his suitcase, for which he was apparently teased by his staff. It was a bright yellow, ageing, hardcase Samsonite suitcase, which he hadn't upgraded as he said it was easy to pick on the conveyor belt. Unless you routinely fly by private plane, then this is a tip to make note of. Which leads me to my next tip...


Goyard lineup


Buy a durable suitcase

I like a hardcase, as if you travel through Asia you will sometimes find that a monsoonal rain event might sweep through the airport, just as they're about to load your luggage onto the plane. The staff will take cover during this time, but your luggage will be left sitting out. This means things can be rather soggy at the end of your trip. A hardcase will also protect your belongings to a greater extent than a soft side. Sure, you can't squish things in as easily when you've purchased a few extra bits and pieces at your destination, but it's the tradeoff I suppose. If you're buying an "investment" suitcase - say Globetrotter, or even Louis Vuitton or Goyard as pictured above, unless you get a private plane to go with them, they'll arrive very battered. Airport staff do not handle bags well, so whatever you buy will get scratched, marked, have ugly stickers put on it... you need to select a bag that suits your actual mode of travel, rather than the fantasy one. Keep the fancy brands for carry on where you can treat the case with more care.

my suitcase interior on a recent trip- this pleases my obsessional side


Packing Cubes will change your life

I cannot tell you how much I love a packing cube. My Mother in Law put me onto them first. She likes to pack outfits in a cube, which means you're more organised at the other end and can easily find things without having to rifle through your case. I now have 5 sets in different colours, one for each member of the family, so we are colour coded... I have a very particular method of packing for family travel, which I'll detail below, but I find it far easier to find my things in a packing cube than without. I bought sets of 6 packing cubes off eBay (extra large, medium, small - which fits shoes), but they're easily available in travel departments of large stores, or I've even seen them at my local pharmacy.


Packing for a family holiday

With children in tow, I've perfected packing to ensure that we have minimum disruption to a holiday if our suitcases go missing en route. It has struck me over the past few years of watching the unfolding lost suitcase sagas on Instagram that most people don't pack like this. So I thought I'd write it down, incase it helps anyone else out. Here's what I do: For our family of 5, we pack one or two suitcases depending on our length of travel (one for a few days, two for a trip longer than about 4 days), plus Mr AV and I take a carryon each.


In the carryon, I pack a full spare outfit for every member of family with two spare tops (because I have seen other parents with a vomiting child have to wear the Qantas Pj's off the plane after they have been vomited on). If we are travelling somewhere warm, I will pack a set of swimwear for each family member as it can take some time for luggage to be delivered to your room on arrival, and my kids are always desperate to go for a swim in the pool straight away. One set of PJs and spare underwear , and basic toiletries fill up the rest. If luggage is completely lost, then we can go for just over 24 hours with no real discomfit.


In the suitcases, I use the packing cubes, which are a different colour for different family members. I realise this sounds very pedantic, but there is a reason for the madness. I pack roughly half the clothes in rough outfits for each family member into one suitcase, and the other half into the other. If one suitcase is lost en route, then we all have clothes, rather than one person having no clothes, and everyone else having theirs. And when we arrive at our destination, I can pick the cubes out of the suitcases and take them to the correct rooms (we usually have to have two adjoining rooms, so don't share a dressing area). It takes only seconds at the destination, the organisation is before the trip.

During the time away I gradually repurpose the cubes so that some contain the dirty laundry, and again, once home it's easy to sort through the suitcase and unpack for each family member - laundry to the laundry, and each family member's cubes back to their rooms and unpacked.

Easy, and no danger of landing at a tropical island somewhere remote with only a very expensive hotel shop to stock up at and a wait of several days to find your suitcase. There is nothing more upsetting than finding yourself uncomfortable on a holiday washing underwear in a sink and wearing the same clothes while you wait for your case to arrive - it's disappointing after the anticipation of a wonderful holiday ahead.

Ziplock bags are very useful. Pack a couple of spares for wet items too (swimwear) or if you've struck a leak on the trip over and need to discard one.

In terms of other packing tips, my only other one is that I put anything with a cream base (toothpaste/ sunscreen/ skin creams/ deodorant) in ziplock bags in the suitcase as they seem to have a tendency to leak under cabin pressure. Having had bronzer go all through my toiletry bag and having had to spend a considerable amount of time wiping things down and ultimately throwing out the stained toiletry bag, this is a good precaution.  During my last trip my perfume leaked (fortunately in the ziplock), which could have been a pretty unpleasantly heady experience otherwise.

All the other things on packing for a holiday such as capsule wardrobes/ decanting toiletries into little bottles/ the necessity of shoe bags/ crossbody handbags with zips so you don't get robbed etc are far better written by others. I do try to work out a capsule wardrobe and do a bit of colour theming (particularly as when I go away with Mr AV without kids he bans suitcases and its carry-on only which keeps you disciplined), but as it varies so much from destination to destination, I'm not sure I'm going to give any groundbreaking information there.

So, I'll leave you with this final overpacking thought that made me laugh, and I will bid you Bon Voyage



Any packing tips you adhere to?
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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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