The most useful travel hacks, from globetrotting Irish creatives

From stuffing your travel pillow to packing a reversible wardrobe, Sarah Magliocco picks up some useful travel hacks from three globetrotting Irish creatives.

From azure blue seas and snow capped mountain tops, there is nothing quite like travel to inspire us and broaden our horizons.

Whether it’s a solo venture around the rainforests of South America, or a Spanish sun holiday to make memories with family, new and meaningful experiences are often but a plane ride away. However, that plane ride can be a logistical nightmare thanks to baggage allowances and all the understandably extensive rules and regulations that come with air travel.

Packing is one of the pre-holiday chores many of us dread, and as a result an entire industry around packing hacks has sprung up around us, offering remedies to our stresses and promising an end to the act of kneeling on our suitcases, struggling in vain to get the zip closed all the way around.

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Alongside the struggle of how to get the clothes we want in our bags, the question of what clothes we should pack arises, and how to make the clothes and beauty bits we bring go the distance and create cohesive and hopefully crease-free looks throughout our trip.

Three Irish content creators who have made travel a cornerstone of their careers weigh in on getting the most out of your baggage allowance, as well as the other key tricks they have picked up along the way.

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Content Creator Clóda Scanlon is known for her travel and wellness content, which she films both in Ireland and abroad. A champion for exploring all life has to offer, from navigating the difficult waters of making friends as an adult to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, she has been organising meet-ups for people to come and make new pals for over a year now.

A recurrent pillar in her pursuit of living her life to the fullest is travel:

“Travel has been the best teacher I’ve ever had! It teaches me to never stop being curious about myself, about others, about the things that make the world go around. It’s one of the best ways to learn about who you are as a person and how you show up in the world, even more so if you experience solo travel – that’s the real boundary breaker,” she told RTÉ Lifestyle.

“I love that as people, we all come from different backgrounds, each of us have a different perspective and our own unique culture to bring to the world and I believe we should never stop learning about other cultures and traditions too. You never know what you could learn, where you might end up or who you might meet when you travel.

“Having the opportunity and privilege to travel throughout my life has enriched my life so much, every time I step on a plane, train or boat to somewhere new I still get butterflies. I’m a big believer in chasing those magical moments in life that make you feel alive!”

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Her Instagram is littered with snapshots of stylish, feminine outfits in various locations across Ireland and further afield, with tiered dresses, colour-pop coats and neutral knitwear all featuring on her feed.

One of her most popular travel hacks went viral recently, as she brought attention to an overlooked method of getting 10kg cabin hand luggage on Ryanair flights for cheaper: “There can be so many hidden charges these days on airlines, so every saving helps.”

Alongside carefully scouring airline websites for ways to make their services work smarter for her and her followers, Clóda’s methods to make the most of baggage allocation to fit all those outfits in are practical – though she uses one famous TikTok hack to help her along too.

“Check dimensions and max out your hand luggage as much as possible. I use a large backpack for my allocated free ‘small bag.’ I bought a specific travel backpack that had multiple zips and compartments and I’ve never fit as many things in my allocated baggage,” she said.

“Taking the cushioned filling out of a neck pillow and instead, stuffing the pillow cover with extra clothes that you can’t fit in your hand luggage saves on space, meaning you can bring extra clothes in your hand luggage, and they’re soft items so you’ll still have a comfy neck pillow to use!”

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Jennifer Crosbie (of Littlefoottravels on Instagram) also swears by the pillow-stuffing hack: “Stuffing your pillow with excess clothes avoids the weight allowance. I find I’m usually toeing the line with weight because I’m an over packer, so having my pillow with me ensures I can always shave off a kg or two to avoid the fees!”

The Kinsale native also swears by packing cubes to make her overpacking habits work: “They are essential, especially for long term travel, you can keep all your items in their allocated cube and makes packing and unpacking so much easier and neater. Make sure you get sturdy cubes with good zips so they don’t break.”

When it comes to what to avoid, she says that while vacuum packing makes sense in theory, it’s highly impractical in practice: “I’ve seen this as a solution to fit in more but it’s so impractical once you land in your destination and open the packets, you then have to fit it all in or try to find a vacuum.”

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She is also an advocate for spreading your clothing between your hand luggage and your checked baggage. “Expect the unexpected. Always pack spare underwear, bikini, shorts, tops, etc. in your hand luggage just in case your bag gets lost. It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit and being left with just the clothes you’ve travelled in is not fun! Leave the bulky stuff at home and leave space for all the beautiful things you can buy locally,” she said.

Jen has been documenting her travels since she first moved abroad to work at the age of 16, and has gone on to traverse the far corners of the globe all while logging her journeys on her social media. “Travelling has been my life for the last 10 plus years, it gave me a sense of purpose and identity and ultimately shaped the woman I am now” Jen explained, sharing why a life of travel has been so valuable to her.

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Another long-term wanderlust, Corkonian Stephanie Barry-Woods is a total pro when it comes to seeing the world, and with almost a decade of travel under her belt since she and her husband Tim left their jobs in 2016 to embark on full-time travelling or living abroad, she has some key tips for anyone looking to broaden their horizons by booking that flight.

“There is so much to learn about the world, and with every trip, I feel like I grow a little more and learn more. It’s my favourite thing to do, and my passion to travel gets stronger the more I do it,” she explained.

Packing has been perfected down to a numbers game, and making the most out of the pieces you bring is key in Steph’s eyes. Looking to the future, she sees reversible fashion as one of the biggest up and coming trailblazers for sustainable fashion fans and travelistas alike.

“I’ve seen more and more stylish reversible fashion recently – I think it’s going to become more popular with sustainable and travel-loving shoppers. This kind of clothing has been around for a long time, but the pieces weren’t very fashion focused [or] on trend.

“Recently I’ve seen a lot of brands coming out with fantastic reversible items that are perfect for a capsule wardrobe. Gaia Garments is a UK-based small business with some great options that I’m planning to buy, and even ASOS has brought out a reversible range of dresses. I think this will be a game-changer for packing.”

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Steph backs the idea of a travel capsule wardrobe – where you can make multiple outfits from the same couple of key items. “When you pack, focus on outfits and not individual pieces. This stops you from packing stuff you won’t wear or wear once. Lay out your clothes, accessories and shoes – and create different combinations. You want to be able to create five or six outfits from just two or three pieces of clothing.”

Like Jen, Steph also has a fondness for good quality packing cubes, and explains that when bringing your tech on holidays there are other opportunities to be space-economical.

“Compression packing cubes are excellent for saving space. They’re like regular packing cubes but with an extra zip that compresses them to make them smaller. I bought a pack from Travel Dude recently, and they’re a game-changer.”

“Be smart about cables, chargers and adaptors. Bring a plug board if you have to charge a lot of devices. You can buy ones with USB and USB-c ports, meaning you only need one adaptor, fewer plugs, and can charge up to eight devices in one go.”

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