No need to pack the kitchen sink!

You know what it’s like when you first feel the excitement and anticipation of booking your summer holiday.

Nicely packed suitcase for holidayYou count down the days and when the week before the big adventure arrives, most women start to panic and/or plan about what they’re going to wear and take with them.

The suitcase is freed from its permanent position in the loft, on top of the wardrobe or that dank corner under your bed where the fluff hangs out, promptly followed by a good wipe.

The essential toiletries you’ve stocked up, since last November on BOGOF deals, are smugly placed first into the suitcase followed by the undies. Your best matching sets go in proudly and then the sobering realisation sets in that you need new pants to replace the oddly coloured ‘grundies’ that you currently possess.

At this point pen and paper is reached for and a list is born.

Socks, hosiery (if you need it) and nightwear, no problem, and the ole swimming cossie gets an airing along with the flip flops, beach bag, towel and sunnies.

After this initial feeling of euphoria at being so organised, comes the bit that we all dread.

What the hell should I take to wear?

Now of course it depends on destination and climate, the type of holiday and how long you’re going for, but being natural organisers – usually – we start to think we need everything, just in case.

For instance you might say: “I may well be worth snorkelling in Mauritius, so the flippers and speargun shouldn’t be discounted just yet”. I know, slight exaggeration but just making a point.

We don’t need to pack for ‘what ifs’.

Keeping it simple and lightweight is key, especially due to the restricted baggage allowance these days. And don’t forget, you can always make an emergency sweater purchase or hire that speargun, if you do need it, when you get there.

In the meantime, preparation is key and I’ll give you some basic pointers and packing hacks that always work for me.

To prepare:

  • Get out all the outfits you’d like to take and lay them on your bed, so you can assess which shoes and jewellery can be used more than once.
  • Look at the array of garments and their colour palettes and patterns and see if you can swap them around to get more outfits out of them. A good rule of thumb is that most items should be wearable with about two other items. This will also help you to notice any excess. If in doubt, take it out. Add any gaps to the list.
  • Pack things you look and feel great in. Your holiday is a special time to be fabulous, not stressed or twitchy about your looks and ill-fitting clothes.
  • A word about shoes. We love them but they take up room, people. So one pair of fancy flats for comfort and one for glamour is an easy rule to follow and your beloved flip flops are a must for sand and pool side.
  • I would suggest wearing your simplest and heaviest pair of shoes to travel in to save luggage weight and also because having a finger fight with your fiddliest strappy numbers at security is not calming in the slightest.

Packing hacks

  • Roll your flip flops and sun cream in your beach towel.
  • Pop your jewellery into bags in the toes of your shoes, providing it’s not uber expensive. Personally, I think cheap and cheerful baubles are a better idea to take on your hols rather than your family heirlooms, but I’ll leave that to you.
  • For rings, chains and earrings why not try a pill dispenser. Mwah mwah, cheeky yes?!
  • Put heavy and bulky stuff on the bottom of the case surrounded by rolled-up socks, undies, light tops, dress scarves etc, as it creates a nice nest on which to build upwards. Then come jeans and bottoms folded with everything else on top.
  • Items that don’t crease too much are a godsend, but the less iron-friendly stuff is better packed on the top layer. And believe it or not, rolling can be better than lying flat.
  • Turn anything with beading, embellishment or delicateness inside out so they don’t have threesomes in your case.
  • Don’t forget a zip-lock or drawstring linen bag for your worn undies and socks – you don’t want to unpack all your holiday smells when you get home.

Hot climates… less is more

  • No matter where your destination is, the plane is always a tad chilly due to the air conditioning, so light layers are a must. One pashmina, lightweight jacket or touch of cashmere will always be useful on a cooler evening in a hotter country. If you wear it, you’ll on the packing.
  • Where there’s heat there’s sweat. So try to keep fabrics natural and lightweight such as cotton, linens, modal etc, and avoid silky or synthetic garments that seem to react badly with your armpit cologne.
  • Also, you’ll be more comfortable when clothes are looser and manoeuvrable rather than tight and rigid. Denim or leather and sunburn are not good friends…ouch. Of course this excludes swimwear and underwear, baggy is not a good look here.
  • Take two cossies/bikinis so you can wear one and wash one.
  • Kimonos, kaftans or maxi dresses are still a great idea to get you from the beach to the street, just pair with some gorgeous flat sandals in the day and something smarter at night. They can be easily dressed up or down with bling.
  • Take a lightweight scarf. A larger square one can double as a cover up, sarong/beach dress, airplane pillow or beach towel, while a smaller one can be an added accessory or headscarf, takes up no room and is totally sink rinse-able. Unless it’s a Hermes, darling.

Packing for different holiday

  • If you’re cruising or on a posh jaunt, then you may need to up the ante a little on your smart casual look, but this doesn’t mean you need to take that ballgown you’ve had since prom night. Light dresses, classic separates and complementing accessories will pull looks together.
  • A great bag tip I’ve found is to find a nice canvas or decorative tote style that you can use for the journey and then double up as a beach bag. That way you don’t need to cram it into essential space or take another. Plus, you can cram snacks in it to your heart’s content… my personal favourite.
  • On the flipside, a flat envelope clutch or small decorative purse in metallic or neutral will keep you accessorised for dinner dos. No need to take a collection.
  • Think about how much walking you’re planning on doing and whether you’ll need to look smart at any time, this will dictate basic footwear and garment requirements.
  • A chic Pac a Mac is much better on the eye these days and you can get hold of a myriad of patterns and colours for a British holiday. It is no longer just available in bright orange or khaki with tight-rimmed elasticated hoods, a trainspotter look I had to undergo in days of old. Yuk!

I’m not really sure if one goes on the piste and skiing in the British summer holidays so I’ve not really mentioned what to take here… I imagine it’s quite easy.

  1. Ski jacket
  2. Salapettes
  3. Thermals and socks
  4. Ski boots, hats and goggles.
  5. No heels
  6. Money, pants and passport.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve given you enough morsels to think about and digest for now, so I’m off to watch videos on 100 ways to make your scarf into a three-piece suit.

Happy holidays and happy packing…

Sara MARSDEN-SHREEVE

About Sara MARSDEN-SHREEVE

I’m an image consultant which means I get to help women look and feel great – it’s my dream job! I became tired of seeing so-called ‘perfection’ portrayed in the media, and it’s my aim to help women feel confident whatever their body shape. You can find out more about how I can help you by visiting my website.