It’s time to put all those hours of Tetris into action and assemble your suitcase like the masterpiece you know it can be. But where to start? Well, here’s a few pointers...
Maximise real estate
While stuffing everything in at random may save time, it means you waste tonnes of room – not to mention the creases (oh, the horror). Instead, roll as much up as you can into neat cylinders. This removes air pockets, meaning more room. Also, there are no folds, so your favourite t-shirt won’t get wrinkled. It works for trousers too – just roll up the legs right to the top and you’re all set.
Whether you’re on the bus, or up a mountain, you aren’t likely to have access to your large suitcase. This is where a well-prepared backpack can be a massive advantage. Bulkier items, like chargers (if you haven’t forgotten them) and jumpers should go at the bottom.
Snacks should stay at the top for easy access; when you want a Mars bar, you don’t want to be rummaging around for it. Plus, they melt at the bottom. Top layer snacks are the way to go.
Not just for looks
Some backpacks have these leather diamonds built into them. They’re actually designed so you can clip or tie things to them, which is super useful when your hiking boots are muddy, but you don’t want to get the inside of your bag dirty. Speaking of dirty bags…
I know plastic bags cost 5p now, but I guarantee you still have close to five million under your sink. Take a couple and put them inside each other to maximise on room. Then, roll up and wrap them around any toiletries that may spill. But wait, that’s just the start.
If you get any of your clothes damp, you can put them in plastic bags and hang the bag somewhere sensible for them to dry. You can put all your dirty washing in one.
When it comes to packing up, just tie the bags (there should be more space because you will have eaten your snacks) and put them at the bottom. This stops your nice clean clothes getting all sweaty just by being packed next to the t-shirt you wore when you were rock climbing.
All this and more just by packing a few old shopping bags, even if they are the Safeway ones from 1995.
Tag it up
You should have hopefully received an NCS luggage tag as part of your welcome pack. Make sure you add your name to it and attach it to your bag. It might be that someone else has the same bag as you, so it’s important you can identify which one is yours quickly.
Forget me not
To end, here is a final checklist of things you might not have thought of.
Sun cream: I know it’s Britain, but it doesn’t have to be that sunny for you to get burnt. Be especially cautious around bus windows, which can magnify the rays, and large bodies of water, like the ocean or a lake, which can reflect sun rays toward you, meaning you burn much faster.
Portable deodorant/antiperspirant: Something that will fit in your backpack. You are going to be active, meaning you’re going to sweat. More importantly, you may get wet several times in one day, so anything you put on in the morning will wash straight off. Therefore, to maintain personal hygiene, it’s useful to have a portable one you can put in your backpack.
Flip-flops: No, not for the beach. In some NCS facilities, the bathrooms and showers are down a corridor or on a different floor. Flip flops are great if you have to go in the middle of the night, and don’t want to wake the rest of your room trying to find your socks. They will stop your feet from getting cold and wet.
Slippers work too, but you can’t wear them in the shower, which might be slippy, so having the extra grip is useful. If you are feeling saucy, you could even bust out the crocs.
But most importantly, don’t forget to have fun.