With holiday season just starting, those of us at the mercy of airlines and their ever-decreasing luggage allowances are busy trying to cram two weeks’ worth of clothes into a suitcase that is only big enough for one week. So, how do the professionals pack? Is there a way of packing so that we arrive at our destination looking calm, collected and uncreased? More importantly, will we still have everything we need? Just follow our top tips and you’ll be packing like a pro in no time.
Before you Start Packing
Before you even think about it, these handy hints will help you make the most of every bit of suitcase space.
- Keep toiletries in grip-seal plastic bags to avoid any spillage disasters. You can then squeeze them into any un-used corners without a second thought.
- Invest in a hammam towel – they are beautifully soft and they dry brilliantly. Choose one that will go with all your holiday clothes and it will double up as a stylish wrap. Best of all, they roll up very small, perfect for your suitcase and your beach bag.
- Ask for travel sizes of toiletries and cosmetics. It may sound cheeky but it you don’t ask, you don’t get. When you are buying full sizes, never be too shy to ask for a travel size to go with it.
- Do not take anything that is already at the hotel. You don’t need a hairdryer or a travel iron unless you are staying in a villa where they are not provided. Luxury hotels provide luxury toiletries so do you really need to take your own? A few minutes’ research could save you a whole lot of space in your luggage.
Carry On in Style
If you are only taking a carry-on, make it a great one. We have been really impressed lately by some of the new smart carry-on luggage coming on to the market. Not only is it ultra-lightweight, but the manufacturers have also thought long and hard about what we all need it to do. The Away Bigger Carry-On shown below is one of the new breed of hard-working, multi-tasking luxury luggage. Available in a range of colours to die for, these cases do far more than just look good. This one has an unbreakable shell, internal compression system, 360˚ wheels, a hidden laundry bag and – this is our favourite bit – an ejectable battery pack built into the case with ports for phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
Carry On Restrictions
What a stress-free start to a holiday. Just remember the restrictions on liquids and pastes in hand luggage. Each bottle or tube must be a maximum of 100 ml and you can take up to 1 litre in total. Do not think that you can take 100 ml of something in a half empty, larger bottle. This is not allowed and it will be confiscated at the airport. All your liquids and pastes must fit into a fully-sealed, 20 x 20 cm grip-seal clear plastic bag. Apparently, the most confiscated item at UK airports is Marmite! We kid you not. It is considered to be a paste so if you cannot travel without it (and, let’s face it, nowhere else in the world seems to sell it – we can’t imagine why), go out and find the cute, 70 ml size and pop it into your sealed plastic bag.
1: Make a List
So, you can’t manage with just hand luggage, you’ve read our handy hints above, and you’re raring to go. Our first piece of advice is to make a list. You may think it sounds over the top and a waste of time but, believe us, it will save you time in the long run. Keep it on your phone or have an old-fashioned pad and pencil – it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have it with you at all times so you can add to it when something pops into your head. Write down all the important things (passport, visa, insurance documents, medication, travel plugs, etc.) and start getting them out and popping them into your suitcase well in advance so they are all in one place. This is not packing, you are just making sure you have things together. When you think the list is complete, go through it and be ruthless. Ask yourself whether you really need each item. If the answer is possibly or maybe, cross them off. You won’t use them.
2: Plan Your Outfits
Most people take far too many clothes. Believe us when we say that you really don’t need them. It can be deliciously liberating to take just that capsule wardrobe that everyone’s been talking about for years. With a bit of clever planning, you can mix and match so that you have a different outfit every day without taking 14 of everything. For one week, you need 2 dresses, 1 pair of smart trousers plus 1 pair of casual trousers, 1 skirt, 2-3 pairs of shorts and 7 tops. We only take 2 bikinis or swimming costumes for a week, maybe 3 for a fortnight or if you intend to visit the local mud baths. Then you’ll need a cover-up, 1 pair of flip flops for beach and pool, 1 pair of sightseeing shoes (comfortable trainers or sandals that you can walk in) and a maximum of 2 pairs of dressy shoes for the evenings.
3: Mix, Match and Colour Co-ordinate
Start with neutral bottoms and team them with fun, co-ordinating tops. Add a splash of colour with accessories. You can change the look of a whole outfit simply by adding a scarf or some statement jewellery – and they take up far less room in your suitcase. Stick to one basic colour scheme. You will then know that everything will go with everything else. Challenge yourself to see how many outfits you can put together using just our pared-down list above. Stick to a colour scheme that you know suits you. Mustard may be in this season but if it makes you look washed out and nauseous, you won’t look good in any of your holiday selfies.
4: Lighter is Better
We’re talking layering here. If you think you might need a bit of extra warmth in the evenings, use lightweight layers such as a cashmere cardigan. Don’t even think of trying to pack bulky jackets. A wrap is, in our opinion, absolutely indispensable. We put this into our hand luggage and it’s perfect to wear on the plane (which is quite often chilly), for dressing up an outfit to take it from day to night, for protection against the sun at midday, or for sightseeing if shoulders need to be covered. We cannot praise the humble wrap highly enough. If you don’t have any, go out and buy one now. Remember, a hammam towel can also double up as a stylish wrap.
5: Lay Everything on the Bed
Before you start packing, lay out everything into categories; underwear, trousers, shorts, skirts, dresses, accessories, toiletries, medication, make up bag, etc. You will be able to see at a glance what you are intending to pack. Go through your daily routine in your head and check that you have everything you need.
6: Start with Shoes
Actually, you should start with a bin bag as a liner. It will make sure your clothes stay clean and will give you a laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate and easily identified. Shoes should then go at the bottom – and by that we mean along the wheel base, which will be the bottom when you stand your suitcase up on its wheels. Stuff shoes with small items such as socks, toiletries and scarves to save on space.
7: The Art of Rolling
The majority of clothes should be rolled, not folded. Exceptions are linen and silk so leave those till last. For everything else, fold it down the centre lengthways, then fold any edges in so that you have a neat rectangle. Roll from the hem to the top, smoothing out ridges as you go to avoid creasing.
8: Pack in Layers
Once your shoes are in, pack other heavy items such as your toiletry bag and hairdryer above them. Then pack in your rolled clothing as tightly as possible, like a tin of sardines. If you are taking a brimmed hat, put this upside down towards the top edge and pack rolled clothes under the edges, with underwear or swimming costumes inside the crown to prevent it being squashed. You should now have one even layer. Pack out all the corners and any gaps with underwear, bikinis, rolled scarves or the smaller toiletries that haven’t been packed at the bottom.
9: Folded Items
If you have any silk or linen clothing, fold this gently and place on top of your base layer. The lightest, most crushable items should go on the top, followed by another bin bag (it helps to stop creases becoming set into the fabric).
10: Medications, Paperwork, Cables
You will need your passport, any visas and your insurance documents in your hand luggage. However, you should always take copies of them and keep them inside the lid of your suitcase. Take photographs of them on your phone and email these to yourself. You can never have too many copies of your essential documents. The pockets inside your suitcase lid are also the best place to keep medications, packs of tablets, a small first aid kit and all your charging cables. Keep these tidy and easy to manage by putting them into a glasses case or their own bag. We found this stylish pack of 3 Travelon packing squares at Lakeland. Use the largest for cables and chargers, and the other two for medications and first aid items.
Pack a Beach Bag
Your beach bag may double up as your hand luggage. If not, choose one that packs flat inside your suitcase. Don’t pack things into it at this stage as this will waste space. Only you know how much you need to take to the pool or the beach so take a bag that’s just big enough. We always make sure we have a bottle of water, hammam towel, a cover-up (if we’re not already wearing it), flip-flops, sunglasses, sun cream, fan, phone and reading material. If you have any electronic gadgets or an e-reader that might get wet, make sure you have a waterproof (and sun cream-proof) cover or pouch for them. They cost very little but give peace of mind. We never travel without a Kindle cover.
Unpacking is Just as Important
That’s it. Packing done – and you should still have a little space for souvenirs. Make sure you use the straps inside your suitcase. They stop everything moving around and squashing your carefully-packed clothing. Unpack as soon as you get there. We cannot stress this strongly enough. Don’t ever be tempted to live out of your suitcase, even for a few days. All your forethought and careful packing will go to waste as you rummage around trying to find things. Hang as many items as you can, starting with linens and silk. Only use drawers for items that don’t crease or don’t matter. Put toiletries, make up, etc. in the place where you will use them; bathroom, dressing table, bedside table or straight into a beach bag. Spend a few minutes at the beginning and the rest of your holiday will run like a breeze.
Well, we’re staggering our holidays so that there’s always somebody here at Juliettes Interiors to help with your luxury furniture queries. Let us know where you’ve been on your holidays – and how you got on with your packing. Bon Voyage!