Deciding where to head to for your summer holiday was the easy part; now comes the tricky element: picking what to pack. It can be tempting to load everything you own that’s beach-worthy into a bag, but chances are you’ll get to your destination with random pairs of shorts and not much else. Follow these suitcase packing tips and our list of holiday essentials for a smarter, lighter way to pack.
Mock up some outfits
Will you be lying horizontal for a fortnight or exploring local villages, visiting markets and enjoying the odd hike? Whatever your agenda, ensure you’re appropriately dressed for it. You can’t go wrong with shorts and t-shirts if you’re planning to be active, so lay out combinations that go together. Denim cut-offs and Breton stripes is one of our favourite pairings. Midi dresses that cover your shoulders are perfect for padding down to the beach in the midday sun but also great if you end up at a ritzy spot for lunch - ditto evenings out at the local yacht club for cocktails.
Edit your footwear
If you pack only three pairs of shoes make it the following:
- Flip-flops or slides for the beach and pool
- Embellished sandals for evenings out
- Trainers or plimsols for exploring
…everything else you can arguably live without. Resist the urge to pack a pair of heels (which will no doubt never see the light of the day). Think comfort and relaxation.
Pack some home comforts
It’s easy to overlook loungewear when dressing for hotter climes, but long pyjamas or joggers are ideal modesty-preservers if you’re going to be sharing communal spaces with relatives or friends of friends. A lightweight knit is also a godsend on air-conditioned flights and cool nights. Cosy socks and eye masks don’t take up much space and can really help you unwind.
Hail these staples
Having some easily interchangeable staples means you can wear a different outfit everyday without packing the kitchen sink. Aim for 3-4 plain strappy tops and/ or t-shirts and three bottoms – be they shorts or skirts. A couple of playsuits or kaftans that you aren’t precious about are ideal for beach trips and means you can save pretty dresses for photo-opps and meals out.
A tropical setting is the place to rock those oversize pom-pom earrings/ zany sunglasses/ basket bag that you bought last winter… don’t be shy and wear all at once if you please.
Take an emergency kit
Make your hand-luggage work harder by slipping in just the essentials should you bag not reach your destination when you do. All you need here is something to swim in, a cotton cover-up, underwear and a toothbrush and some toothpaste – crisis averted.
Drawstring dust and shoe bags are the holiday-maker’s best friend. Rather than opening your suitcase and having no idea where anything is, compartmentalise the small, fiddly bits into pouches, which can then live in drawers or on shelves; dust bags are great for this. Have one for underwear and socks, one for swimwear, another for chargers/ tech and a spare for used lingerie. And of course, keep shoes separate from clean clothes by using a shoe bag for each pair you pack.
Your summer holiday checklist should always start and end with the following:
- Local currency
- Insurance documents
- Print-outs of car hire and hotel confirmations and directions (never rely on your phone – the network may just let you down!)