Packing for a holiday can be stressful. How nice would it be to transport your world and your wardrobe with the click of a finger to your sunny destination – eliminating the need to make any decisions about what to pack?! If you find it tricky to know what to wear each day, then forward planning for a holiday will certainly be a challenge and your suitcase is likely to be bursting at the seams. It definitely takes experience to streamline the perfect holiday wardrobe so that you’re not lugging your whole wardrobe around with you whenever you travel, and experience of travel and packing is something in which I have multiple-suitcase experience! Here are a few tips for travelling that will help ease the luggage load so that next time you travel you can pack like a pro!
Pack based on the length of your trip – resist the temptation to force your entire summer wardrobe into your suitcase just for a two-week holiday. Select clothing based on potential outfits you could wear – don’t pack any separates that you haven’t already planned how you would wear – if they haven’t got the perfect partner at home they’re not going to find it on holiday!
Try and pick pieces from a complementary colour palette so that you can mix and match separates as much as possible, creating maximum outfit options from minimum garments.
“Finsbury” Embroidered Top, Hush
Denim Shorts, Oasis
Navy “Alicia” Trousers, Boden
Keep neutral with the accessories – tan/metallic/beige/white will go with most summer outfits. Resist packing crazy colours unless they complement the rest of your clothing.
Gold Flat Sandals, Steve Madden
Nude Laser-cut Espadrilles, Dune London
The weight allowance for hand luggage is the same as the hold luggage on most airlines, so if you really want to pack that extra pair of shoes then invest in a great cabin bag for luggage overflow! The Cosmolite Spinner cabin bag by Samsonite is super light at 1.7kg and has a 36 litre capacity.
Zipped travel laundry bags like these ones from Ted Baker are really good for keeping small things together (e.g. underwear, swimwear) and separated from the rest of your suitcase contents. It makes it easier to find things when you don’t have stray undies jumbled up inside your case. I really find they make a lot of difference to how organised I feel when packing. Similarly, if you have a lot of chargers or plug adapters, pack these in a transparent zip-lock bag to keep them together within the case.
I’m rubbish at judging distances and weights, so I really have no idea whether my suitcase weighs 20 kilos or 30 kilos! I’ve been hit with an excess-baggage charge at the airport that was more than the cost of the flight itself – once that has happened, you never want it to happen again! I always weigh my case at home, just to be sure. This handy digital scale is available at Sainsbury’s. Different airlines vary with their charges and some will charge an excess fee per kilo of extra weight.
No-one wants to do ironing on holiday, but even with my top packing tips, it’s likely that some of your floaty summer frocks will be a bit creased on arrival. A portable steamer is great for eliminating creases quickly and effortlessly. I know you’re probably thinking that the last thing you want to do on holiday is anything resembling laundry, but it’s easier than drying your hair, I promise! Steaming will also kill bacteria, eliminate odours and freshen up your clothing, delaying the need for regular washing. I have one by Philips which weighs 0.72kg, so it won’t add to the weight of your case too much, and it’s worth it if you have a lot of crease-prone holiday clothes and don’t want to pay for the hotel laundry service. A good budget alternative is ProBreeze which is very compact and travel friendly (0.65kg) and comes with a handy travel pouch for storage.
Toiletries can really add to the weight of your suitcase. I never pack full-size toiletries of anything except sun lotion; I streamline the rest of my products. There are so many miniature versions available for most beauty/bath products these days so it’s much better to pack these to lighten your washbag. I really like transparent hanging washbags for travel: Victoria Green has a great new one available now from Marks & Spencer. They’ve clearly done their research into what people want from a washbag and the importance of organisation when travelling. I like the ease of being able to hang up the bag so that I can easily view the contents and not have to unpack everything inside – it makes it much easier if you travel frequently or are hopping from one destination to another. (When you’ve visited 13 different countries and 22 cities in the space of three months like I have, then unpacking your toiletry bag is no longer on the agenda!). The bag is constructed with a 3-in-1 system which allows you to use it as a hanging organiser, but you can also detach the larger bag at the bottom and the transparent middle pocket so that you can personalise your beauty packing for each trip – great for both shorter trips and more extended vacations.
Travelling light is not easy even for the most seasoned of travellers. Even the Lady’s Maid herself has been caught out at the airport with an extra charge for a heavy suitcase. One area where you can lighten the load of your belongings to avoid this happening is with your travel toiletries and make-up. These can really add to the weight of your suitcase, so if you want to free up space for that extra pair of shoes you might wear on holiday, take note of the Lady’s Maids top tips for toiletry packing.
Pack miniatures not full-size bottles. Besides sun protection, the Lady’s Maid would recommend packing only miniatures of your essential daily toiletries. Full-size bottles of anything will seriously add to the weight of your suitcase. Boots and Superdrug have a much larger range of mini toiletries these days. Department stores such as John Lewis also sell a good range of miniatures.
Many brands also do ready-made travel sets complete with zipped transparent bags, which are great as they are permitted in hand luggage. Only buy these if you’re actually going to use all of the products though, or remove the ones you won’t use – there’s no point in adding unnecessary weight to your bag.
If you are loyal to a particular brand and can’t do without it, then decant a small amount into empty miniature bottles – you can purchase these in most chemists. Muji also sell a wide range of empty mini pumpable, squeezable and sprayable bottles.
Stream-line your skincare routine. Pack only the products you actually use on a daily basis. Most hotels will have a decent shower gel, if not more, so you could forgo your usual shower gel.
Pack full-size sun protection for face, body and hair and mosquito repellant. These are the only products that you’re likely to want to use a lot, so you won’t want to run out.
Pack your toiletries in a transparent bag so that you can easily see what you have and if any items are missing. These ones from M&S are great value.
Be selective with make-up. If you are holidaying in a hot climate, you are probably not going to want to wear your usual make-up, especially in the day-time when your skin is exposed to the sun. The Lady’s Maid has only six items in her holiday make-up bag:
Bourjois CC cream
Lanolips tinted lip cream with SPF
Chanel cream blush stick
MAC bright moisturising lipstick
Use a make-up bag that makes it easy to locate items. The Lady’s Maid travels with a frame make-up bag from Cath Kidston. The sturdy metal frame keeps it open so that the contents are easy to find.
“I get ideas about what’s essential when packing my suitcase.”
– Diane von Furstenberg.
The Lady’s Maid is a seasoned pro when it comes to packing – she has been known to pack 10 suitcases in the time it takes for her Ladyship to have breakfast, whilst also being afflicted with jet lag and recovering from the after effects of a mild electric shock in Bangkok. But if the thought of packing sends you into a cold sweat, worry not: follow the Lady’s Maid’s practical packing advice below to ease pre-travel stress and ensure that your clothes are kept in tip-top condition in transit and on arrival at your destination.
Don’t overpack. You might be going on holiday, going away for the weekend, or on a business trip – you’re not moving home, so be selective when packing clothing for trips. Think about what you’re going to be doing on the trip and what the weather will be like and pack accordingly. Plan outfits in advance – bring a selection of clothing out of your wardrobe and think about what will work together for the trip. Separates that can be mixed and matched are a good idea in order to maximise outfit opportunities. Avoid too many brightly coloured or patterned “statement” pieces that will be harder to wear multiple times.
If you are packing delicate, beaded or crease-prone garments, use acid-free tissue paper (available from Hangerworld) to protect the fabric and minimise the risk of creasing. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the case (shoes, bags) and lighter clothing items at the top.
Try to fold garments along natural seam lines as much as possible to minimise creasing. Avoid vertical folds as these do not fall out as naturally.
Pack trousers by folding the trouser leg half in the case and half out and then continue to pack clothing before folding the outer part of the trouser in once the case is full. This will prevent you from having to fold the trouser leg on itself which would create a crease.
Dustbags for shoes and bags are also worth using to protect the contents and the surrounding clothes. More expensive shoes usually come with a dust bag but you can buy them separately like this one from Cath Kidston or you could even make your own.
If you travel regularly, it is well worth keeping a travel toiletry bag separate from your main home toiletries so that you don’t have the extra bother of having to constantly pack these every time you travel. Pack liquids in zip-lock bags before placing in toiletry bags for added security – if there is any leakage your clothing will be protected. Travel hanging toiletry bags with transparent pockets for makeup are also great for travel as you can hang them straight up and easily locate their contents.
Try to streamline your skincare and beauty routine when on holiday as toiletries will really weigh down your suitcase. Most chemists and skincare brands offer a large range of mini toiletries these days, or you can decant your favourite products into empty plastic bottles – Muji has a good range of mini pumpable, sprayable and squeezable empty bottles.
Portable steamers are great for quickly eliminating any creasing in your clothing when travelling – they’re really easy to use on dresses and blouses and will save you the effort of having to get out the ironing board or fork out a fortune for hotel laundry services.
Even The Lady’s Maid has been caught out with a hefty fee for an overweight suitcase. Check the weight of your bag before leaving for the airport with a hand held weighing scale – find out the weight limits of your airline to ensure that you won’t be lumbered with an excess baggage fee when you get to the airport.