Getting to Malcolm Island is half the fun! Whether you choose to travel by seaplane or catch a car ferry to Vancouver Island, you’re in for an exciting start to your vacation.

A seaplane ride is a great chance to get an aerial view of Malcolm Island and the stunning landscapes of coastal British Columbia from above. It’s also the fastest way to get to Sointula. However, it does come with one unique challenge; the need to pack light. Seaplanes offer limited baggage allowance for guests compared to regular commercial flights. So you might find yourself needing to pare down your usual packing. 

You might have plenty of space in your vehicle if you opt for the car ferry route. But you’ll still want to get smart about what you bring to ensure you have everything you need during your stay without bogging yourself down with too many bags.

No matter how you’ll get here, if you’re planning a visit to Malcolm Island this season, keep reading. We’re breaking down some simple packing tips to help you make the most of your space.

Start with a List

Are you someone who always waits until the last possible moment to pack your bags for a getaway? If so, you know this often leads to cramming anything within reach into your suitcase before rushing to the airport — only to find upon arriving at your destination that you’re missing at least a few essentials.

But even starting your packing weeks before your trip won’t solve this problem if you don’t have a plan. Before you ever start putting clothing and toiletries in your suitcase, it’s a good idea to make a packing list.

Go through your expected itinerary for your trip. Consider the activities you’ll be enjoying. Also, think about the kinds of gear and clothing you’ll need to stay safe, warm, and comfortable. Spending a lot of time outdoors? You may need an additional change of clothes for later in the day. Don’t just stop at clothes. Think about the other gear you’ll need. This includes things like your camera, batteries, charging cables, and toiletries.

Make a list of everything you’ll need on your trip. That way when you do start packing, you can easily go through the list and check off each item as it goes in your suitcase.

Double-Check All Airline Baggage Restrictions

Whether you choose to road trip and take a ferry, fly, or enjoy the most popular option, a seaplane ride, you’ll get a taste of the incredible landscapes and breathtaking adventures that await you on Malcolm Island.

However, with several different legs of travel to think about, it’s important to make sure that you’re checking any baggage restrictions that you might face. Different airlines have different restrictions on the size and weight that checked and carry-on luggage can be. Some may also restrict how many bags each person can carry, or may impose additional fees for bringing more bags.

If you’ll be taking a commercial flight to Seattle before transferring to Lake Washington to hop a seaplane, you’ll need to make sure that your luggage fits the requirements for both your first commercial flight and your Kenmore Air flight

Choose Items That Perform Multiple Functions

Soaring over the Inside Passage on a seaplane is an incredible experience that will only add to the fun and excitement of your visit to Malcolm Island. But with a maximum baggage allowance of just 25 pounds per person, including all luggage and carry-ons, you’ll need to put a little extra work into your packing.

One easy way to do this is by choosing items that can be layered or that perform multiple functions. For instance, a warm jacket that’s also waterproof makes a great outer layer that can replace a separate raincoat. Lightweight, moisture-wicking base layers act as both thermals for staying warm and can be worn on their own if temperatures rise in the middle of the day.

If your Malcolm Island accommodation is a fishing lodge, like Sointula Lodge, you might be worried that you’ll need to toss out clothes to bring home your fresh-caught salmon. Don’t be! Many lodges have an arrangement with local seaplane airlines that ensures you’ll be able to carry home all of your fish, carefully packaged in wax boxes, in addition to your regular luggage.

Choose Your Bag Wisely

Packing more items into fewer or smaller bags can go a long way towards lowering your luggage costs on most airlines without sacrificing anything that you might need. Larger suitcases also contribute to the weight of your luggage. 

A standard suitcase can easily weigh 15 pounds or more. If you’re flying with Kenmore Airlines, or any airlines with strict weight restrictions, that heavy bag can take up a large portion of your allotment.

Choose a smaller suitcase or one that is designed to be lightweight. A duffel bag or backpack is also a great lightweight solution.

To make the most of your space in a smaller bag, roll your clothing items rather than folding them. This will also help keep them from wrinkling on your journey.

Invest in Packing Cubes

Another great way to get more space in your bag and keep your belongings organized in a backpack or duffel bag is to use packing cubes. These lightweight, inexpensive solutions allow you to separate different types of clothing. That way when you get to your Malcolm Island accommodation, you can simply place the packing cubes in a drawer and easily grab whatever you need each day. Packing cubes also further compress your clothes to make it easier to fit more in your bag.

Always Carry On Your Essentials

More than 24 million pieces of luggage are lost by airlines around the world each year. Losing your suitcase before a vacation can be stressful and disappointing. But if you’ve packed your essentials in a carry-on, you can likely replace clothing and other gear with a quick stop at a store on your way to your destination.

Make sure that any medications, tough-to-buy toiletries, contact lenses and/or glasses, expensive gear like your down coat, and your electronics, including tablets, laptops, and cameras are packed in your carry-on bag or personal item. It’s also a good idea to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case.

Mastering Your Packing for Your Next Malcolm Island Adventure

Smarter packing can help you make the most of strict weight requirements, maximize your space in smaller bags, and ensure that you’re not missing anything that you might need when you arrive on Malcolm Island.

Ready to start planning your next adventure? Check out our lodging guide to find the perfect Malcolm Island accommodation for your next stay.