Suitcase on the beach

Travel Smart: Woman Travel Essentials and Packing Hacks

How often have you come back home from a holiday realizing you only utilised half of the items you brought? This is a sign you need to pack in a smarter way. Not only that but if you have a long journey ahead, you have to think that you will need the lightest luggage ever to carry alone. You will probably also get on a few boats or travel by scooter, so you want to make sure you won’t regret your choices when it comes to packing! If you want to start improving your luggage weight today, read my easy guide on the latest women’s packing essentials and travel hacks for your solo holiday:

#1 Start Early and Plan Ahead

Travel Smart: Woman Travel Essentials and Packing Hacks. Digital nomads in the airport.

Embarking on a long journey or heading out on your first trip? Take it slow. Begin packing at least a week in advance. This gives you plenty of time to pick up any last-minute essentials that may have slipped your mind. Now, clothes and accessories aren’t the only things you need to think about. Even if you have no medical conditions, it’s always smart to have some basic medicines on hand. While I’m no doctor, I’ve found that carrying paracetamol, probiotics, and vitamins has always worked out well!

#2 The Art of Smart Packing: Less is more

Travel Smart: Woman Travel Essentials and Packing Hacks. Silvia trying on travel outfits.

Here’s a strategy for you. Write down a rough outline of your itinerary, similar to my example below. Add a column with your main activities planned for each day. For every activity, list out the clothes you plan to wear. Can you wear the same shorts for two different activities? Could your travel outfit double up for something else? Make sure your outfits are interchangeable and don’t bring outfits you can’t repurpose!

what to pack for solo holiday

If your holiday is more than a week, I would suggest bringing a small laundry soap with you (such as this one) and using a travelling steamer to iron your clothes (I couldn’t find mine but this is similar). Some hotels charge a lot for the laundry service, but if you are going to Southeast Asia don’t bother because the same service is a lot more affordable!

#3 Use Packing Cubes!

Travel Smart: Woman Travel Essentials and Packing Hacks. Suitcase packed using packing cubes.

So, you’ve nailed down exactly what to pack. Now, it’s time to pack smartly and organized. I highly recommend using packing cubes (I’ve been using these ones for 7 years!). They’re perfect for keeping everything neat and tidy. Plus, they save you from wasting precious holiday time rummaging through your suitcase for that one T-shirt! Cubes are also incredibly helpful when you need to pack again, move hotels and get dressed in the morning.

Ready to get started? Spread out all your items on your bed and sort them into categories.

For example, I would do one cube for dresses, one for quick daily outfits, one for bikinis and underwear and one for sportswear. Based on the size of each category, pick a packing cube. For instance, I use the smallest for underwear, socks, and bras. Then, I have a separate cube for sportswear, fancy dresses, and comfy two-piece outfits.

Silvia showing how to pack in a smart way by rolling-up clothes

Next, it’s time to roll up everything! Pick up all these elastic bands that come with vegetables from your weekly shopping. Go back to your rolled-up clothes and secure each one with the elastic band. This will keep everything more compact and organised.

Once you secure your items in the packing cubes, there should be some stripes within each cube that you can use to tighten up your clothes even more!

#4 What to Buy at the Airport After the Security Check

Things to buy at the airport.

As you probably know, there are strict limits on the amount of liquids you can carry in your hand luggage. That’s why buying liquids after the security check is a smart move. If you’re like me and have allergies, make sure to buy your SPF and body lotion before leaving the country. This ensures you have allergy-free creams even if you can’t find them on your trip. Other items worth purchasing post-security include bite/sting cream and eye drops for the flight (my eyes always dry out on long flights!).

The same goes if you have food allergies! I always get my favourite snacks after security in case they are liquid or take up too much space.

#5 Essentials to Pack in Your Flight Bag

Your plane bag is your lifeline, especially during long-haul flights! Here’s a practical list of essentials to bring with you on the plane:

Travel Smart: Woman Travel Essentials and Packing Hacks. Flight bag essentials list.

I bet you will spot something unexpected on this list. Yes, I’m talking about the outfit for the second or more flights. As a minimalist, be assured I wouldn’t recommend bringing extra things if not needed. If you are travelling for about 20 hours, you need to refresh and get changed this is just a fact! Most airports worldwide would have showers, they might be in your airline’s lounge but you can’t always access them if you are not a member. The good news is you can now pay to use a lounge (such as this one), so if your stopover is long enough, I would suggest doing it. The alternative would be to bring water wipes with you and refresh yourself before getting changed! If your stopover happens to be in Dubai, I have good news for you: they have free showers! I’ve written a blog post about this so you know exactly where to find it!

#6 Are you Heading Anywhere Cold? Read this!

If you need to bring some jumpers and warm clothes and wondering how you can still pack efficiently – I’ve got you!

All you need is roll-up travel bags! You know one of those that take the air out with the hover? Well, good news, you don’t need the hover anymore! You can just roll up the bags with your folded clothes inside and you save a lot of space in your suitcase! You’re welcome!

#7 Bring your Comfort Kit!

Last on the list of “women packing essentials” but definitely not the least, is the comfort kit. This could include anything from your favourite tea bags to a lightweight book or journal. The tea bags can be brought on the plane as well. You can then only order hot water and enjoy your comfortable hot drink on the plane! It’s all those little things that make unfamiliar places feel a bit more like home.


Don’t panic if you forget something! It’s okay to forget a few things; you can always buy a few things on the go. The most important thing is not carrying too much, especially if travelling solo! Check out this blog post if you need tips on women packing essentials for a tropical country 😉

Ciao for now,

Silvia x