So it’s finally arrived, that wonderful moment of the year… HOLIDAY TIME! There’s just one slight obstacle you have to overcome first… packing! I think most women look at a suitcase and think everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. Men, of course, pack for the weather. Some people can get away with a couple of pairs of knickers, a toothbrush and some malaria tablets. That is certainly NOT me!
We all want to look our best on holiday, without standing out as white limbed tourists. Believe it or not, having the correct clothes can really make or break a holiday. If your husband, boyfriend, partner or dad is anything like the norm, then you will be constantly having to dodge the camera lense. Photographs will be taken at unexpected times and from unwelcome angles. No wonder us girls have a collective clothes crisis whilst trying to enjoy our holiday!
So where do you start? What do you pack? Some people have an eye for what is required, and can glance through their wardrobes selecting everything they could possibly need, usually resulting in far too much. Over packing is the norm, so do not worry. Others like to travel with the very minimum. It can be nice to travel light but this takes experience.
The secret is to plan your capsule wardrobe, whittling down the contents and planning what you are going to wear each day before travelling. That way you will pack properly.
The journey itself needs to be considered, especially if you are going to be sat on a plane for a number of hours or are travelling with little sticky fingers! You must think about comfort, practicality and of course style. Turning up at the airport is the start of your holiday, so you should still feel special and chic.
It goes without saying, you should wear colours that won’t show up dirt and grime and wear fabrics that can be washed easily. Leave the dry clean only garments in the wardrobe at home. If you are going on a city break for example, and will need a jacket and a pair of boots, the trick is to wear these items on the flight. They will be bulky and heavy so where them to the airport.
Lots of people swear by taking certain items on the plane with them, such as a pillow, cashmere socks, a pashmina, vitamins or aromatherapy spray, eye drops, makeup wipes, earplugs… The list is endless but also weighty! The secret is to relax and feel at home. If this means brushing your teeth and popping your pyjama bottoms on then do this. The main thing is to drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated.
So here are my top tips for a stress free, non clothes crisis journey into perfecting your packing!
Due to the ever decreasing airline baggage allowances, your suitcase or holdall is the best place to start. When you are limited to so little weight, your case needs to weigh as little as possible. So always weigh this. In my experience you will be surprised!
A hard case is always good to keep clothes flat and less creased on a long flight as well as protecting anything that is fragile. However they can weigh up to a third of your allowance so opt for a specialist lightweight case, but be careful as some of these cases can still weigh 5-6kg. Always check the exact weight before you make a purchase.
If you are nipping away for a long weekend then opt for a holdall, as they tend to be lighter and are equally as durable.
It is always the toiletries that tend to ruin the packing plans! They weigh more than anything else, invariably leak and are often left behind half full at the end of the holiday because you can’t be bothered to bring them home. Opt for miniatures or decant your favourite products into lightweight plastic containers.
Fortunately supermarkets, chemists and beauty counters are all meeting the demand for travel sizes and you can pretty much get everything you need in miniature form! They are lighter, take up less room, minimise wastage and although slightly more expensive, are still cheaper than paying an over weight baggage charge. You can also pick up your sun cream and beach towel when you’re abroad.
Don’t forget that if you are taking your bag on as hand luggage you need to keep all liquid products below 100ml and store them in a clear bag.
Small time packing is achievable for weekends away and 5 day breaks, especially in the summer as the light fabrics fold into nothing. The key is to keep things flat. I’m going to make it easy for you and break it down into the different sections of the case.
Bottom – start by placing the items you want to keep flat. Lay your jeans, skirts, dresses the length of the case with the excess fabric hanging over the side, to be folded in again at the end, over the clothes. If you want to be a complete packing goddess then line the case and each layer with a bit of tissue paper. This will keep the items pristine and stop say jean rivets rubbing against linen trousers.
Centre – place all folded items such as tops, t-shirts and cardigans in the middle.
Top – place the heavy items on top to keep everything in place, shoes should be popped into plastic bags followed by your toiletries bag. Many people put in their toiletries first, because they are heavy. But when you get to your hotel and want to freshen up, they’re usually the things you need instantly to hand. After that the trouser legs and maxi dresses (the ones left hanging over the sides) can then be draped over the top,
Underwear can be tucked into the pocket inside the lid of the case (or even stuffed into pointy toes to preserve them) Belts can be rolled, wrapped and placed in the remaining pockets of space around the clothing.
Secrets of a Capsule Wardrobe
The key to successful packing is to lay all your clothes out in advance and stick to the simple rule of three or four tops to every bottom.
By laying out your garments on the bed first and gaining an overview, it will lead you to discard at least a third of them. In the time it takes for you to fold them, you will undoubtedly remember those that don’t fit you, suit you and/or go with anything else you have packed. This is when you begin to understand the concept of a capsule wardrobe:
Here are some final tips:
- Rather than trying to fit your entire wardrobe into a case, you should have core outfits that can be dressed up and down using bold accessories.
- For a fortnight you might need four or five bottoms; try to keep them neutral or white. That way you can use the tops and jewellery to create a very different look that can be as chic as you want it to be.
- Three pairs of shoes should see you through from dawn to dusk: killer wedges, up-to-the-minute metallic pumps which will work with anything, and flip-flops.
- Most of your underwear should be flesh-coloured to go with anything.
- On a hot holiday you should ditch the denim and leave your jeans at home.
- Demote your clothes as the holiday goes on. The first evening you can waft down to dinner in a beautiful kaftan with a pair of linen trousers. Then you can wear it out shopping, and after that it can be for the beach.
- Invest in some decent swimwear. We are never as exposed as we are on holiday. A well-cut swimsuit can make you look as though you have shed pounds and work wonders at helping you look – and feel – your best.
- If you are on a weekend or city break ,consider your outfits as you will probably need your holdall to fit in the over head locker.
- A pair of black jeans will be a good basic item for you. Worn in the day casually with a pair of boots you wore on the plane or a pair of flat pumps, comfortable, practical and still stylish. Then change your top, pop on your heels and some bold costume jewellery for the evening. The accessories will take up hardly any room.
- The same can be said with a maxi dress, flip flops for the day, wedges and chunky jewellery for the evening.
- Change your outfit and look with the use of accessories rather than clothes.
- If you are still really unsure of what to pack there are free services on the internet such as www.packinglistonline.com where you type your destination, weather, how long you are going for and it provides you with a free customised packing and check list.
Alternatively you can give me a call and I’d be more than happy to help! I’ll even try and fit in your suitcase so I can come on holiday with you and style you every day!
Click here to listen to Cleo’s broadcast on the Aleena Naylor show on BBC Radio Derby