If you’ve been around for any of my moves on Twitter, you’ll know every time I complained about packing up until the fifth or last pack, at which point I finally thought to lay everything out on a bed and go SCIENCE.
I mean, it’s not science. Probably. But by the time you’re thinking about weight distribution, standing over your laid-out clothes and saying, loudly, “Step back! I’m going to try SCIENCE!” feels like the only way to hold on to your sanity for long enough to get you on your way.
Today, I’m sharing some tips on packing light for your summer holidays, and a few of my travel essentials! Just a heads up that by summer holidays I mean “holidaying somewhere it’s summer, and relatively warm,” so if you’re heading to Antarctica, even if it’s July, this may not help as much.
How to Pack Light For Your Summer Holiday
First of all, you’re already ahead of the curve. It’s hot, which means packing light is way easier than it would be in literally any other season. This is for two obvious reasons:
- Dresses and shorts take up less space and weigh less than hoodies and coats. Duh.
- Even if the place where you’re staying doesn’t have a laundry room or laundry service, or you don’t want to carry your shit to a launderette and back, you can handwash anything in the sink, hang it somewhere and it will dry quicker than overnight. So if your holiday is longer than you can fit a daily outfit for in your suitcase, you can just wash the ones you put in instead of pack more stuff.
With that in mind, you can get away with not having to check in a suitcase at all. You save money and you save your back: it’s a win-win. Here’s ten things to keep in mind to achieve that goal:
1. Pack for summer. Erase “what if it suddenly gets cold?” from your vocabulary. (Unless you’re holidaying in England. Pack some cardis if you’re doing that.) It’s highly unlikely to get cold in late June/July/August/early September. Last week there was a storm, and I went out to my patio and danced half-naked in the rain. And if it somehow does cool down in a heavy-summer country and you need some sleeves, you can take the opportunity to do some shopping. If you packed light, it shouldn’t be a problem to bring some stuff back with you!
2. Roll your clothes. This is on every advice list ever these days, but while rolling clothes won’t make hoodies or coats any less bulky, it definitely helps with anything thin or cottony. If you roll your t-shirts and dresses, you’ll have more room for denim, towels and other thicker textiles. They’ll also come out less wrinkled. Just do it.
3. Shoes take up the most space of anything. Luckily, you’re not going to be wearing boots to the beach. If you’re going somewhere hot, you don’t want trainers, either, or socks. Pack flip-flops or sandals, a pair of closed shoes (heels or flats, not my decision, but flats are easier to pack!) in case it’s cool at night, and leave it at that unless you have space left over. You don’t need that many shoes.
4. Put your underwear inside your shoes. Also fits inside shoes: chargers, batteries, small deodorants, jewelry pouches, particularly thin t-shirts (may be gross to some, it is to me), epilators, razors.
5. Go light on the tech. You’re on holiday, for god’s sake. If everything you want to do can be done on a tablet or laptop, leave the laptop home. That shit overheats, and if you’re coming somewhere around the Mediterranean, you will want to throw it in the ocean five minutes after you turn it on. This is where I, e-book lover extraordinaire, recommend taking a paper book or two with you. Don’t overdo it, because they’re heavy, but mmm books.
(Remember to take a converter plug if you’re going somewhere that has different outlets than your tech does.)
6. Another thing you can go without is a hair dryer. If you’re a stickler for drying your hair with it, check if the place where you’re staying has one. Most hotels either have one in every room or will give you one at reception if you ask for it. I started air-drying my hair in mid April, though, because it’s so hot in Spain that having a wet head of hair is like relief and it will dry on its own even faster than clothes, so you don’t have to pack a dryer at all.
7. Think about how much makeup you’ll be using. Now think about how much makeup you’d be devastated to find completely melted in your bag. Pack accordingly. (Also pack according to airline standards, obviously.)
8. If you’re going to be buying travel-sized toiletries — buy them where you’re going instead of at home, and leave them there before coming back. Check what the hotel will give you, too, and see if you can’t use that. Toiletries are about the same prices everywhere, and if you’re one of my UK readers and you’re going somewhere that sells in US dollars or Euro, you win on the conversion rate anyway.
9. If you’re going with other people, even if they’re friends and not family, combine your luggage. This is where SCIENCE! comes in, and it’s especially handy if you’re carrying backpacks instead of hand luggage. It’s a great opportunity to redistribute weight if someone is falling backwards every five steps or your suitcase keeps veering to the side and trying to kiss the floor.
10. Don’t forget your earphones. Or you may come home a year later to find out your beloved Apple earphones that still worked perfectly after seven years have been destroyed by the animal that is your sister. Not to be dramatic or anything.
What a summer holiday packing list would look like for me:
1. laptop + charger (maybe)
2. Canon DSLR + kit lens + 50mm lens + charger + USB cord if taking laptop with me
3. phone + charger
4. ipod + charger + earphones + USB cord if taking laptop with me
5. a notebook; I usually carry three or four, but we’re talking holidays: I don’t want to take my work with me
6. hair brush + deodorant + sunscreen
7. nail pouch with: nail clipper, nail files, tweezers, razors or an epilator
8. makeup bag with: foundation, concealer, eyeliner, maybe some choice lipstick and eyeshadow, and all this only if I’m planning to shoot
1. underwear + a couple of bras. I don’t usually wear bras with sundresses anyway.
2. if I’m going somewhere hot, a bikini or bathing suit, maybe two
3. all of the dresses I’m comfortable in during summer
4. a pair of shorts, a few t-shirts
5. flip-flops or sandals + one other pair of shoes + a third if there’s space left
6. maybe some jewelry if I’m shooting, planned beforehand
7. a towel
OR a board, if you will:
What are your must-haves for a summer holiday?