Asking me to pack for a holiday is like instructing me to put an elephant into a locket. At any one time at home my clothes are distributed between my walk in wardrobe, my spare room (on the drying maiden), the washing pile and the washing machine.
When you put them all together (which is rare, because I’m never that on top of the laundry) I could probably fill 10-15 large suitcases despite the fact that I flogged a load on eBay and sent 6 black bin bags to the charity shop this year alone.
Having been on two three-week holidays in the last 2 years, I’ve had to learn to pack properly! This post contains my top tips for travel packing – based on my experiences and obsession with shoes, bags and shopping!
It’s simple really. You’re probably going to go shopping when you’re on holiday. If it’s a city break, there’s a good chance there will be daily shopping involved! Take New York. What right-minded fashion-loving individual would travel to new York with a full suitcase?
If you have one beach bag, a clutch bag, a backpack and a medium-sized-tote-bag already in your case then it’s suddenly much harder to justify buying that Marc Jacobs black number.
Another bonus to under-packing is the obvious benefit of being able to bring back more goodies. Just don’t fall foul of the baggage weight limit like I did when we came back from Barcelona last week, or you’ll have to find a way to get the 10kg additional baggage onto the plane without it going on the scales. Queue wearing all the jewellery you own and layering so many items of clothing that you can barely get through security.
DO Take Hold Luggage
I do understand why people take hand luggage only, but when you’re going away for a week and have to cram everything you own into a tiny suitcase for the sake of saving yourself a pocket-money-change amount, I question whether it’s really the best use of your energy. Dump the bags, pick up a cocktail and wait for your flight without heaving your belongings around the airport like a pack-horse.
Besides, if you think you’re getting one over on the airlines by foregoing your hairdryer, wearing your biggest heels to the airport and taking cabin baggage only for a week’s holiday, you’re wrong. As much as I like value for money (comes with territory when you work in finance), unless I’m only going away for a couple of nights my bag is getting checked into the hold!
DON’T Use Packing Lists Written by Backpackers
Unless you’re also going backpacking, travel packing lists are often not only irrelevant but tediously boring. “3 long sleeved tops and 3 vest tops for mix-and-match layering” will never be going in my suitcase, let alone on my body – It’s not 1992 and I’m not in a girl-band.
Yes, I pack sensible clothes (including sports clothes for trekking about in) but I draw the line at dressing like someone who’s been hitch-hiking for the last 35 years without making it to a shopping mall. Anyway, who goes away for 3 weeks and only expects to wear flip-flops and hiking boots?! That’s asking for blisters.
Do use a packing list written by someone like you who is going on a similar holiday. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure you’ll be either bringing back most of the case unworn or throwing it out to make space for your new purchases!
DO Pack Your Ludicrously High Heels
Holiday life isn’t the same as day-to-day life. If you can’t wear your most impractical stilettos in Vegas, where can you?
Pack for excitement and fun even if it means you can’t walk more than 100m without needing to sit down. Hell, treat yourself to a taxi – you are on holiday after all!
DON’T Sweat the Small Stuff
Unless you’re going to Siberia or the jungle you can probably buy most of what you need when you arrive at your destination, so there’s no need to have a hissy fit when you inevitably forget to pack a toothbrush.
The people of Hong Kong also need toothbrushes, so the corner shop will stock them and it’s not like shampoo is a rare commodity in a hotel.
DO Wet Your Swimsuit
How awkward is it when that bargain white and gold bikini that shows your tan so well also shows off your ass-crack and nipples as soon as it comes into contact with the sea?
I wouldn’t know, because I always check my swimsuits for see-through-ness – especially the cheap ones!
DO Pack a Darker Foundation
If you must wear foundation (personally I tend not to, especially on holiday) then make sure you account for the change in skin tone when you expose yourself to sunlight.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times where I’ve seen girls queuing up to get on the return flight looking like they bathed in gravy then dipped their face in flour. Not a good look, and easily avoided!
DO Carry on Valuables
Take your camera, best jewellery and posh handbags in your carry-on luggage. You don’t want to misshape your Mulberry in the hold or have your beloved Chanel* travelling around the world without you.
I know plenty of people who have had luggage delayed or lost, and although most of them eventually got them back they were often dirty, smelly, wet or torn.
If there’s something you can’t bear to lose but have to take with you on your trip, keep in close to you at all times!
If you must put bags in the hold (i.e. if you buy a few on holiday and need to get them home) then stuff them with clothes and put them back in the dust bag so they don’t lose their shape!
* If only… A girl can dream!
DO Pack Several Pairs of Sunglasses
Being mixed race, I tend to tan very easily, which means that when I return I typically have tanning stripes. As you can imagine, its also very easy for my to end up with terrible un-tanned areas around my eyes which looks ridiculous once you return to the less-than-sunny UK.
The effect of this is much worse if you’re a fan of big outrageous sunglasses like I am! Limit the damage by packing several different pairs and rotating throughout the holiday – the more different the shape the better!
DON’T Be Ignorant!
Always be mindful of differing fashion conventions and pack so you can observe cultural rules. High waisted denim Levi cut offs that show your underbum crease and a lace ‘bralette’ are probably not OK for a trip to the UAE.
DO Buy Quality Luggage
I don’t mean pretty luggages, or designer luggage or even the lightest ever luggage. Buy luggage which will last many miles of travelling, is flexible and expandable, water resistant and easy to live out of for weeks on end!
My luggage of choice is Eastpak – My Husband and I both have a backpack and a suitcase/holdall that my Dad bought us as wedding gifts before our honeymoon. Crap luggage is false economy, especially if you’re replacing them every few years! These bad boys have a 30 year guarantee, so it’s a worthwhile investment!
Overall, Just don’t stress!
You’ll probably forget something, but it probably won’t even matter once you’ve arrived at your designation and begun to get into ‘holiday mode’.