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Packing Tips from the Pros: Ciara Mc Nally

( travel light )

Packing Tips from the Pros: Ciara Mc Nally

Ciara Mc Nally is originally from Cork, in the south of Ireland but has lived in New Zealand, UK, Kenya (for a month!), Italy, and the US before returning to Dublin where she works as a primary school teacher. Her love of travel began as a teen when her family took trips to continental Europe and visited multiple countries in one holiday. A self confessed over packer, she admits she is trying to minimse her packing but finds it hard to shake the ‘pack extra, just in case!” mantra!

Her travel blog began a little over a year ago and has helped her document her travels to 11 new countries in 16 months. Being a teacher means that Ciara travels at peak times during school holidays. Her blog is aimed at travellers in similar situations. She wanted a way to showcase the destinations that were possible given the time off teachers have and offer hepful, practical advice and itineraries to make the most of these precious weekends and half term holidays.

She truly believes that, like Santa, the travel bug exists and once bitten you cannot fight the desire to fly away and see the world. Her carry on is always half packed with essentials so she is ready to go and a moment’s notice and claims that the window seat on an airplace is one of her happy places!

What's usually in your carry-on?

I’m all about just bringing carry on luggage because when I arrive at my destination I am just too impatient to wait at the baggage carousel! I have packing cubes with all the essentials in my bag. I do always have a little ziplock in my handbag with a change of top, undies and toothpaste just in case something should befall my bag. My book and camera are also not far behind!

Tell us about the usual type of clothes you bring when traveling?

I pack the night before a trip and try to pick outfits I can mix and match. Obviously my packing is weather dependent but I ear mark an outfit a day (for day and night) and a just in case top or two because if something can be spilled on me, I will spill it!

What's the best packing tip anyone has given you? Who gave it?

Nadia from @nadia_dailyself taught me about packing outfits into ziploc bags so that if your bag gets wet the clothes inside are safe! I always put shoes into plastic shower caps so they don’t dirty my clothes.

What is the best thing about packing light/heavy?

I am yet to conquer the packing light concept because I hate to not wear fresh clothes, even when travelling but sun holidays really help with light packing. Bikinis and shorts take up less room and so the moral of the story is go on more sun holidays!

How does your packing for a travel routine look like?

I think about packing a few days before the trip. I set up my case the day before and put the toilettries bag in first. Then items that I don’t need to use myself before the trip go in. I use packing cubes so I lay out the day, night and smalls cubes in my case and as the trip approaches I pop more things into them! I recently started to roll clothes and that is a space saver! I am a nerd and have a little bag for European destinations that includes a phone charger and travel adaptors so I just grab the bag for each zone. I have one for the USA too!

How do you deal with "excess baggage" situations? 

I try to keep under the weight restrictions but I am always over. I have been lucky in so far as kind, check in desk operators have let me go with being a few kilos over recently but I learned my lesson when I travelled with Ryanair and had to pay an excess fee that was more than the ticket for the flight! I’m not doing that again!

What's your best-kept packing secret?

If I know I am going to stay at a hotel on my trip I don’t bring shampoo as hotels always have that but they don’t always have conditioner so to save space in my liquids bag I bring just conditioner. I also soak make up remover pads in micellar water and pack those in a sealable baggie so that I don’t need to bring the entire bottle of make up remover!

Quick Qs:

Photo Credit: @mysuitcasediaries

  • Favourite region? Europe 
  • Favourite country? Italy
  • Favourite city? Seville
  • Favourite beach? Along the Costa Smerelda in Sardinia
  • Favourite food? Tacos
  • Favourite mode of transport? Air
  • Favourite book? The Night Circus
  • Window or aisle seat? WINDOW!
  • Carry-on or check-in? Carry on
  • Hostel or hotel? Hotel
  • What's your favourite design from the Cabin Zero collection? I love the classic ice grey bags but they are usually sold out!

Follow Ciara's adventures in her travel blog, My Suitcase Diaries.


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