Thinking of traveling again? Louise Slyth has travelled the globe and learned lessons along the way. Here are her ultimate tips to pack like a pro.
For most of us, travelling overseas has been but a distant dream for the last 18 months. With the option to holiday abroad reinstated, you might feel overwhelmed at the thought of cramming all your #holidaygoals outfits into one suitcase. Yet with a little planning and a few packing accessories, you can pack to be ready for anything.
What to take
The key to travelling light and looking effortless is to focus on a few hardworking staples. This will of course be weather dependent, but for a sun holiday, you really should be able to survive on the ultimate capsule wardrobe.
Think one colourful midi skirt, a denim skirt, black and white loose trousers, colourful shell tops and vests, a metallic cardigan, and some dresses. Your ratio should be roughly 3 tops for every bottom – as you can wear these more than once.
If you are at the beach or pool all day, chances are you will only be dressing for the evening. Wear dresses more than once and you can get away with just 6 or 7 evening outfits for a fortnight away.
Swimsuits/bikinis – 3 – one to wear, one to wash and one to dry.
Minimise shoes to 3 pairs – a comfortable wedge you can walk in, trainers for sightseeing and a stylish flat. Wear your heaviest / bulkiest pair to travel in.
Jewellery – all you really need is a statement necklace, some bangles, a pair of studs and some hoop earrings. Never bring anything you would be heartbroken to lose.
Handbags – I always travel with a cross body bag in a neutral shade and a metallic clutch with a wrist strap – both are versatile and deter bag snatchers.
Depending on where you are going, layers can be invaluable – it may not be high fashion, but this foldable Uniqlo lightweight jacket has served me well over the years on unexpectedly chilly nights or when I’ve needed an extra layer in a cold climate.
Edit, then edit again
Place everything you plan to take on your bed and then place it into three piles – “day”, “night” and “both”. You will then be able to see where items can be used across categories to make multiple outfits. Anything that doesn’t go with a couple of other things (dresses excepted) shouldn’t make the cut.
How to pack toiletries
It would be easy to use up half your weight allowance on toiletries, but holidays are an opportunity for a pared-back beauty routine. Think about what you really need and decant your essentials into travel-sized containers like these from Penneys.
Before you go, get as many sample sizes of your favourites and take these with you – big department stores are happy to hand out travel-sized perfume samples, mascaras, and so on. If you are visiting a city and aren’t fussy about the brands you use, buy shampoo and shower gel when you arrive and don’t take them home, recycle them locally before you leave.
No one wants to think about laundry on holiday, but a little forward planning can give you options and potentially get you out of a scrape. I always travel with three things: travel hand wash, a flat laundry bag and a travel clothesline. In the event your accommodation doesn’t have washing facilities you can launder any essentials and hang them over a bath or balcony. A laundry bag is really useful for keeping clean and worn items separate if you need to re-pack between multiple destinations.
How to pack
You can roll synthetics without wrinkling them, but cotton should be kept flat. If you want to avoid ironing on arrival, wrap anything that’s prone to creasing in tissue paper before you pack it. Lay things like linen trousers flat along the top of your case. If you are packing something which is precious to you, pop it in the middle of the suitcase – should your case be left outside in the rain it will be protected from any leaks.
Use every available space – put jewellery inside handbags, socks inside shoes, and so on. Plastic storage bags are ideal – I use them to keep my shoes away from my clothes, but they are also great for packing wet towels at the last minute.
You might find that storing things in packing cubes makes it easier to fit more in but if you find yourself at the point where you are sitting on your case to close it, fear not…zip up with what you can fit in and stand it vertically. Things will generally settle and slide down and you will gain a bit more room to throw in that extra bikini.
In case of emergency
Pack a toothbrush, a swimsuit, and any medicines you need in your hand luggage. Should your case be waylaid, you can at least wait by the pool for your bag to arrive in style, rather than sweating it out in jeans.
If you are traveling with a partner or family member, split the contents of your suitcases so that you each carry half of the other’s clothes. If one of your suitcases goes missing, you still have half your holiday wardrobe. That includes shoes – if you are taking 3 pairs, wear one and pack one in each suitcase.
Take a photo of any key travel documents and email them to yourself – should the worst happen, you will at least have the details of your insurance policy, passport, etc.
Don’t forget the golden rule
Always leave a little room for holiday purchases. It would be a crime to miss out on an exotic bargain due to over-packing. I always leave a little shoe-sized space in my suitcase, just in case.
We may earn a commission if you buy something from any affiliate links on our site.