Going away on a holiday is one of those exciting events that people can spend months, or even years, planning for and dreaming about. What country will I go to? What cities will I visit? What day trips and activities are must-sees and must-dos?
Packing, however, is not something that is generally at the top of holiday maker’s lists. For me, it’s one of my favourite parts! Deciding what chic dress/shoe/bag combination I’ll wear while strolling down the Champs Elysee, or selecting the perfect swimsuit for a relaxing Amalfi getaway is all part of the holiday anticipation process. However for most, packing can often be left until the last minute.
Even if you are someone who packs in advance, it can be easy to fall into the trap of packing too much. Do you really need 5 dresses, 3 skirts, 6 tops and countless pairs of shoes for a one week getaway? No. Will you actually change your outfit three times a day to suit various occasions? Probably not. Instead, consider packing less items that are more versatile, allowing you to easily transition from day to night with a simple accessory change. The best part about doing this? Less items means more room in your suitcase for all the things that you will inevitably buy!
So, how do you pack for your holiday?
Write a list
Before starting any of the physical packing process, write a list. If it helps, add in what activities you will be doing and what climates you will be visiting and any specific clothing that needs to go with these. For example, a beach escape will require the obvious like at least one bathing suit, as well as sunscreen and a hat. Then, include all your key items (toiletries, underwear, outerwear, day clothes, night clothes, etc.) as well as listing things like cameras, chargers and your passport. No one wants to get to the airport to find that they’ve left their passport at home. For tips on what to include in your carry on, check out my downloadable PDF.
I’m a big fan of the pre-pack. This is the step I complete about a month before I actually go away. During this time, I get out all the clothes, shoes and accessories that I think I’ll want to wear during my vacation, factoring in weather conditions and activities, then tentatively place them in my bag. The benefit of doing this so far in advance is that it allows me to go back and look again at what I’ve packed, questioning every item and culling at least half. While on holidays, you’re not going to want a completely new outfit each day. It’s much more practical to pack items that you feel comfortable in, love the look of, and that easily mix and match. If I was to pack closer to the date of departure (say, the night before), this doesn’t leave any time to question my choices, and therefore I’m more likely to end up with pieces that I won’t wear.
Now the fun begins. How will you fit everything into your bag?
Strategically pack by rolling
Rolling your clothes takes up significantly less room than folding your clothes, so it’s definitely advisable to roll everything that you can. To take your packing to the next level, invest in some packing cubes. I used two and they’re seriously wonderful. By rolling your clothes and placing them in the packing cubes, you instantly have more room in your suitcase as the cubes compress your rolled clothes, giving you even more space.
It goes without saying, but pack heavy items at the base of your bag and items that you need to wear the soonest (think pyjamas) at the top. If you are short on space, socks can be stored inside shoes, and remember to take smaller portions of toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothpaste. Not only do you not need to stock up on these as 1) many hotels will give you toiletries for free and 2) you don't use as much as you think, but they can get incredibly heavy.
Pack your hand luggage
Also remember to thoughtfully pack your hand luggage. For help, download my carry on checklist. In my hand luggage, I always include my pyjamas, a change of clothes (including clean underwear), toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and moisturiser, a book/kindle/iPad, eye mask, neck pillow, headphones, iPhone charger, gum, my travel wallet with tickets, hotel details and passport, a pen and my travel diary. Wow. That might sound like a lot (which is does!) but these essentials not only make for a comfy plane/train/bus/boat ride, they also ensure that you're not caught out if your luggage goes missing.