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Image / Living / Travel

How to pack just hand luggage for a two week holiday


By Louise Slyth
11th Aug 2022
How to pack just hand luggage for a two week holiday

A two-week holiday with only hand luggage? Yes, you can!

I’m not normally a light packer. I generally live by the mantra “more is more”. But I’m also a control freak, and with reports of over 4000 lost bags sitting in Dublin airport, the thought of rolling the dice and waiting to see if my suitcase arrives with me doesn’t fill me with holiday glee. So, this year I will be attempting what was hitherto unthinkable: a fortnight away with just hand luggage. Here’s how…

The ultimate capsule wardrobe

What do you really need for a beach holiday? During the day you are likely to be running around in beachwear and shorts, which take up almost no space. Limit yourself to 2 bikinis (one to wear, one to wash). Then for day trips and evenings, add 3 or 4 dresses, loose trousers or a maxi skirt, 3 cute vests, a lightweight cardigan and a couple of silk tops. You can then create your very own day-to-night capsule wardrobe.

Normally I’m all about colour, but exceptional circumstances merit exceptional measures, so I’ll be sticking to monochrome and metallics. Why? Because it’s the ultimate capsule wardrobe – everything will go with everything else. Plus, only having a black and a white wash makes laundry so much easier. You can add some colour with vibrant accessories.

Shoes

For a beach holiday you only really need 3 pairs of shoes: runners (which you will wear), flip flops, and a pair of stylish flat sandals that will take you from day to night.

Accessories are your friend

Clever use of accessories can mean you get more bang for your buck from a black or white dress. Consider a bright scarf that can be used as a shawl or hair tie, or a pair of statement earrings that can take a simple dress from day to night. Metallics are versatile and universally flattering. Turquoise looks great with a tan and complements blue or orange. Again, try to limit yourself to a handful of hardworking items.

Think about laundry

A “hand-luggage holiday”, as I’m calling it, is only really feasible if you are staying in accommodation with laundry facilities. It also helps if you are visiting sunnier shores where laundry dries in hours, not days. That said, it’s still prudent to bring light fabrics like silk, that will dry quickly and take up less space in your case. I always pack travel wash and my holiday clothesline, which has been a life saver on several occasions.

Toiletries

I normally use a holiday as an excuse to indulge in a plethora of potions and lotions, but a tiny bag of 100ml items certainly focuses the mind. I’ll be bringing essentials only and will limit make-up as much as possible to multi-taskers like creams that can be used on cheeks and lips. I’ll be buying my sunscreen and shampoo when I arrive at my destination.

Say adios to…

Big floppy hats, inflatables, and anything you usually bring “just in case.” This is utility, not utopia, so sacrifices have to be made. Unless you’re going somewhere remote, you can pick up things like mosquito plugs and beach towels at your destination.

Tech

Do you really need a phone AND a laptop? Could you leave your hairdryer at home and create some beachy waves with a salt spray? If you can use the same charger for your phone and Kindle, then leave one behind.

Decide what packing tribe you fall into

Opinions are divided on whether to fold, roll or use packing boxes. I always try to pack items that don’t need to be ironed, so it doesn’t really matter. Fold anything that’s likely to crease in tissue paper and you can usually get away with it – the last thing you are likely to want to do on holiday is ironing!

Keep all the items you need to remove for security checks in one place

Do yourself (and those in the queue behind you) a favour and prepare for security. Put everything that you need to take out for screening into your smaller bag. That way, you can place your suitcase straight onto the scanner, and avoid your own personal version of packing Tetris when you need to replace everything. It’s much easier to repack toiletries or electricals into your handbag and breeze effortlessly through security like the travel pro that you are.

Plan your travel outfit carefully

Anything heavy, like jeans or trainers, should be worn on the journey. I always wear flats when travelling, to avoid the hassle of removing heels at security, or in the event I need to run for the plane. A linen blazer is comfortable, effortlessly chic and will complement your minimalist holiday wardrobe.

You don’t have to forgo holiday shopping

There is nothing I love more than a little (or a large) holiday memento. I normally leave a little space in my suitcase for this eventuality. Travelling light means you need to think carefully before you splurge, but it doesn’t necessarily mean an enforced shopping embargo. Focus on small items like scarves or jewellery, and if you do fall in love with something bigger, you can always post it home. Just don’t skimp on the insurance (just in case). I’ve posted all sorts of holiday treasures home over the years, and it feels like Christmas when they finally arrive. Let’s be honest, you might get them faster than a check-in bag…

Photography by Pleasing.