Rhiannon Batten, 32, is a freelance travel journalist. She has been writing for more than ten years and has travelled extensively, from backpacking in Chile to luxury breaks in Scandinavia. She has recently returned from researching a conservation project in Mozambique.

I don't think there is any great secret or key to packing, but I do think the main thing is not to pack too much - you really don't need to. These days you can buy pretty much anything anywhere, so there's no point taking things just in case.

I try to be really organised. Most of my trips now are fairly short, for work - a week or less. Backpacking is much easier, as you don't need as many smart clothes, and hot countries are easier too, as you need less gear.

I work out what I think I'm going to wear each day, and if I'm being really organised I try things on to make sure they work. When I've sorted that out, I try to jettison a few items, so I don't pack immediately. I always ask myself if I really need something and I try to double up, so if I take one pair of trousers I can wear them with three tops. I also pack a little bit of hand-washing liquid, so that I can wash things and wear them again.

Even if the worst happens, it's never that bad. Once my suitcase got lost on the way to India and I arrived from Scotland wearing a jumper and jeans. But I just went shopping and came back with the most beautiful sandals and the best bikini I've ever had.

I always take my kikoy - it's an East African cotton wrap somewhere between a scarf and a sarong. It's brilliant as you can use it as a towel, a blanket, a sarong or a shawl. For long-haul flights I always have a toothbrush and paste, moisturiser, lip balm and eye gel (I love Elizabeth Arden eight-hour cream) in my hand luggage.

I'm now very good at packing light - I hardly ever take more then one small suitcase. When I was younger I used to worry, but now I'm much more relaxed.

Gordon Rae, 24, from Glasgow is a cabin crew member with British Airways, operating on long-haul flights from Gatwick. He has worked for BA for six years, and has been flying for 18 months. He regularly flies to the Caribbean and Florida, having to pack at least four times a month.

It has taken me a bit of time to get good at packing. When I started flying I was taking too much stuff and was very disorganised. I've gradually got more organised, and learned to rationalise what I'm taking and cut it down. It's useful to try mixing and matching where possible - clothes that can be casual for the day and dressed up for the evening are essential. Try to get as much use out of each item as you can.

I can go away for anything between 48 hours and eight days. We get a couple of days off on long-haul jobs, so I have to take some smart clothes for going out to dinner.

I would normally pack two pairs of shorts, a pair of jeans (I always take my jeans, even to hot destinations), at least one T-shirt for each day and a couple of dress shirts, as well as underwear, socks and shoes.

Rolling your clothes tightly does work. Once you get to your destination, if there's no iron, just hang the clothes up on coat-hangers in the bathroom and put the shower on its hottest setting for 20 minutes - that should steam the creases out.

When I first started flying, I thought it would be a good idea to try to be healthy, so I packed a carton of orange juice in my luggage. Needless to say, by the time I arrived it had burst and my clothes were soaked. So wrap up anything that could leak, including toiletries. I always put my shoes in plastic bags, so any dirt doesn't get on to the clothes. I think I've got it down to a good routine.

I can't start packing without my lists - if you have three children, you've got to live by lists. I use the same lists every time we go away - if it works one year, it works the next. I just tick off what I've got. It's basically the same stuff each time - sunblock, sunglasses, T-shirts and shorts.

The hardest part is packing the carry-on luggage. You have to have enough games, food, milk, nappies, nappy sacks, wipes, a GameBoy for the middle one, something to keep the eldest busy, something to draw with, something to change into when they've spilled food all over themselves. That's the worst bit for me - and now the amount of hand luggage we're allowed to take has been reduced!

The boys hold hands and make sure they keep together. And, of course, when you get off the plane, you find they've not used any of the games or toys we packed - they're usually too busy popping up between the seats and making faces at the people sitting behind.

Although I use lists, I'm not especially efficient. One year I tried to pack a week in advance - washed, ironed and packed all the clothes - but I forgot that I'd need to get clothes out before we travelled, so by the time we were ready to set off, half the stuff was missing and what was there was all crushed.

No matter how hard I try to cut down on packing, when I get to the other end my bags are always marked 'heavy'. When I pack for myself, I do it the night before, otherwise I would just keep adding and adding. I have to take my hair straighteners with me, and the younger boys have knitted blankets made by their grandmother - they won't go to sleep without them. Now my priorities have changed - the children's luggage has to be organised before mine.

Fraser Clark, 32, is manager of STA Travel in Dundee. He has been backpacking since he was a student, and has covered California, south-east Asia and Egypt, as well as most of Europe. His last trip was to Mexico.

Usually I take one set of dress clothes, one set of casual clothes and a couple of pairs of shorts and T-shirts for day-to day dossing about in. T-shirts and shorts are items that you can always pick up cheaply and easily wherever you're going, so they're not as important as a good set of dress clothes for nights out. I find that cotton is the best all-round fabric. It's light, breathable and easy to wash.

I pack my bag the night before I travel, though everything is laid out ready before I start. I begin with the essentials - passport, money, tickets, insurance - and double check these before I finish.

For independent travel, it's important to take the right footwear - avoid new shoes unless you want blisters. I have a pair of all-terrain sandals from Nike that I wouldn't travel without.

Always pack a good moisturiser - Vaseline Intensive Care with aloe vera is my favourite - plus suncream and a basic first-aid kit (plasters, water purification tablets, antiseptic cream and strapping), as well as a phrase book or guidebook. It's very easy to offend if you don't know the local customs.

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