Packing tips from the Pros: Deni Verklan

Deni Verklan is a 22-year-old Canadian with a passion for travel, photography, writing and gluten-free & plant-based foods. She originally created The Full-Time Tourist blog to chronicle her time to explore Toronto while pursuing her university degree full-time. It has since become a hub for people like Deni who love to travel and want to find adventure in everyday life.

She first came up with the idea of The Full-Time Tourist when she moved across the country from Edmonton, Alberta to Toronto, Canada for her full-time journalism studies at Ryerson University. Before moving to Toronto, she had only flown out of Toronto and had never stepped foot inside her city. Her move-in day to residency on campus was actually her first time in the city! Since then, she has been a tourist in the city she calls home. The only factor keeping her from exploring the rest of the world is her full-time student status, which currently explains her blog name (The Full-Time Tourist) and will hopefully become her full-time career after she graduates. Currently, she shares her travel stories, city/neighbourhood guides, travel tips, lifestyle tips and gluten-free & plant-based recipes on the blog.

What's usually in your carry-on?

Nowadays, I tend to travel carry-on only. So I’ll usually bring two pairs of pants, about five shirts, one or two sweaters, underwear, two bras, socks and one or two pairs of shoes. I’ll also pack my shower and make-up essentials. Other necessities include my camera, for blogging, and my laptop, which was mainly for schoolwork. This will all go in my larger bag.

Photo Credit: @thefulltimetourist

For on-flight entertainment, I’ll download books from my local library onto my iPad and make sure the music and podcasts on my phone are up to date. I also bring a small purse that includes my ear buds, my wallet, blotting sheets, lip balm, pens and a passport. I have a full packing list (and video) on my blog about absolutely everything I brought to Vienna, Austria with me, which you can find here.

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

As I mostly travel carry-on only, I’ve learned to plan outfits for a trip. The key is to plan outfits that are easy to mix and match, so you aren’t stuck wearing the same outfits repeatedly during your trip. It’s also important to pack layers so you can add or subtract them easily as you’re exploring.

For example, in Vienna, I wore a tank top, a long sleeves shirt, a cardigan, a sweater and a cotton scarf under my waterproof spring coat. I also wore a pair of leggings under my jeans, two pairs of socks, and a blanket scarf, hat, and gloves.

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

I don’t remember who taught me that rolling is best for packing, but it’s by far the best tip! I’ve also recently come across the KonMari packing style from Lavendaire on YouTube, so I’m interested in giving it a try!

Also, packing cubes are so helpful to keep everything organized. This means less time in the morning trying to find that one shirt, and less time at the end of your trip re-packing!

What is the best thing about packing light/heavy?

The best thing about packing light is how mobile it is. No matter how hard I try with a large 22kg bag, I always find myself either at the top or bottom of a staircase. My long, strenuous trip up or down a flight of stairs reminds me that life would be a lot easier if I were just bringing a carry-on.

How does your packing for a travel routine look like?

This really depends on the trip. When I first moved to Toronto from Edmonton, Canada, I planned and packed for about a week before I flew out. However, that was mainly because I was moving there for the next four years. Now, I have a couple of sample packing lists in Microsoft Notebook that I use as references for winter, summer or fall/spring packing. This way I can check every item off the list, and I won’t forget anything. I generally pack the night before the flight in case I manage to forget something. But, when I was packing for my 6-week internship in London, UK, I packed the day-of, as I had the day off and I didn’t need to be at the airport until 6:30 pm for my 9:30 pm flight. 

How do you deal with "excess baggage" situations? Do you pay extra? Lessen your load? 

My trick for this is to plan for some shopping/gifts/extra weight before you leave home. I always make sure that I have a couple of kilograms of wiggle room so I can avoid this situation in the first place. If that doesn’t work, I have been known to repack in the airport and just bring more on the flight with me (if I’m putting a suitcase under for a longer trip) or put my carry-on as my luggage item (if I’m not already checking baggage).

What's your best-kept packing secret?

My best-kept packing secret is shampoo and conditioner bars, a non-liquid face wash and coconut oil, which can be used as a moisturizer, hair oil, and teeth whitener. All of these are solid, so you will never have to worry about going overboard on liquids (or have to take them out during security)!

Quick Qs

  • Favourite region? Europe
  • Favourite country? Ireland
  • Favourite city? London, UK
  • Favourite beach? Kama’ole Beach in Maui, Hawaii (USA)
  • Favourite food? Homemade, gluten- & dairy-free pierogis and cabbage rolls
  • Favourite mode of transportation? Car
  • Favourite book? The Opposite of Loneliness by Marine Keegan; anything by Sarah Dessen or Sloane Crosley
  • Window or aisle seat? Always window.
  • Carry-on or check-in? Carry-on only, please!
  • Hostel or hotel? The secret third option- AirBnB!
  • What's your favourite design from the Cabin Zero collection? Classic 44L Cabin Bag in Blue Karma

You can follow Deni’s adventures on her blog, The Full-Time Tourist


Deni answered all your questions about his best-kept packing tips, and now it’s your time to answer hers!

Deni asks: If you had to pick, would you chose: a mountain or a beach destination? Why?

Click this link to answer the question and get a chance to win a 28L Cabin bag!

The winner will be announced on Monday, the 26th of June on the linked post on our Facebook Timeline.  

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