So, all is sorted and it’s two weeks before you flick on your email Out of Office message…it’s time to start packing.
What? Two weeks? Call me crazy, but I like to start packing two weeks before departure. I feel prepared and the challenge of having to make outfits out of what’s left in my wardrobe is ‘interesting’. I don’t like to leave packing until the last minute because I’m quite sure I’d want to pack something in the laundry basket in need of a wash, dry and press. It also means I’m not under pressure which equals forgetfulness in my world.
Over time and experience, I've developed an all-time, all-inclusive packing list which means I rarely leave anything behind. Build your own, tailored to your needs. Unless you’re a descendant of MacGyver and able to make a razor from palm fronds, the good Lord knows you can’t find a razor in jungle Borneo, so don't be forgetting the little things.
Naturally, the nature of your holiday is going to dictate the essentials and the nice-to-haves.
What will I wear?
I start by laying everything I want to take on the bed. It’s usually way, way, way too much so the cull begins.
Cover all bases - casual day wear, dressy day wear, night wear for a variety of occasions – think nice dinner, theatre/opera/ballet if that’s your thing, nightclubbing/dancing, destination specific gear such as swim or ski gear, sleep wear.
Take more tops than bottoms and have practical, dark coloured pants/shorts. Less washing and when you look back on the photos you won’t seem like you are wearing the same thing in every photo! Don't overlook a multipurpose dress.
Colour is important as it will determine how flexible your wardrobe can be. Start with neutral bases and plains – think white, black, navy, khaki etc and choose colours that will work with each other so you can colour block successfully. Add colour through accessories, jewellery, tops and jackets. Avoid a patterned garment unless it works back with several other key pieces you plan to pack.
The real hack though is to choose items that could almost be worn for any occasion and for their ability to mix and match into a number of different outfits – think outside the square and wear items in ways you might not customarily wear them, such as:
Shorts teamed with a jacket or embellished top with heels and jewellery for an edgy night time look.
A dress, you might usually wear at night, worn with a denim jacket and pair of flats, sandals or canvas sneakers as daywear.
A maxi skirt that can be worn over a dress (using the dress as a top).
A casual maxi-dress, dressed up with jewels and pair of heels for a night out.
A one-piece swimsuit that can worn under a jacket as a body suit with stylish pants or skirt in the evening.
A sarong that can be twisted and tied into a top or dress or even worn as a scarf to add colour and interest to a plain singlet and pants.
Not sure about you, but I don’t want to wash or iron much at all while on vacation (ok, every day!). If this is you too, take into account the practicality of the garment. Whilst I love a good crisp white, collared shirt to take me from casual day wear right through to dinner, I don’t want a suitcase full of items that I am going to have to iron. Fabrics that mean garments can be rolled up and pulled out and worn with little or no maintenance are going to be your best friend when on holiday. The darker the colour the more likely you can get away without washing it as soon eg. white jeans vs indigo coloured jeans.
Consider the time you're away and access to laundry facilities. Camping is obviously somewhat different to staying in a resort with in-house laundry service or facilities. Better still, save time and wash what you can while in the shower, use spare bath towels to wring out the water and sling it over anything you can to safely dry overnight.
Regardless of what anyone says, style does not have to be sacrificed when on holidays. Don't look back on photos in years to come and wish you’d made more of an effort!
I know it’s important to be comfortable, especially where long haul flights and exploration on shank's pony is concerned but it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.
I have this thing about not wanting to look too much like a tourist on holidays. You know it…the big back pack, the I ♥ NY t-shirt and the freshly-bought touristy cap (and that’s all before we've pulled out a map!).
Swap the cap for a stylish, funky Fedora or broadbrim hat, swap the backpack for a large, fashion tote and a plain t-shirt will be fine. It’s that simple.
Don’t underestimate the power of the accessory. They're small, easy-to-pack, minimal space invaders, that will bump up the style factor of any outfit, day or night. Think earrings, bangles/cuffs, necklaces, scarves.
Dress smartly for a flight. You never know, the planets may align and deliver you a business class upgrade (more likely if when you’re dressed nicely and travelling alone). There’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t deserve to be in business class and a pre-flight champagne never tastes as good in tracky dacks. If you’re not fortunate enough to land the upgrade (complete with complimentary pajamas) take your own comfortable attire to change into onboard. Changing back into your stylish clothes prior to descent, along with a freshen up, will make you feel more alive and ready for adventures ahead.
These boots were made for walking…
You’ve got the clothes, now it’s time to co-ordinate the shoes. Bring out all of those you’d love to take and cull just as you did with the clothes. The determining factors are, of course, that they work with your outfits, that they are practical for the type of trip you are taking and that there isn’t a multitude of shoes that serve the same purpose when trying to minimise on packing. Comfort flats/sneakers for walking all day in, dressy flats and of course heels/evening wear shoes should cover the bases. iI know, I know...leaving some behind is like leaving behind one of your children...but think of the space and the weight you'll save for any you might spot and pick up on your travels.
When it comes to sneakers – leave behind the Asics trainers (unless you’re planning to run or go the gym on your break). When worn with jeans they wreak of ‘tourist’. Swap them for a pair of canvas or Converse style sneakers when comfort is essential. For aded comfort grab some Scholl inserts, if nevcessary. The beauty of the cheap, but funky canvas sneaker is that you can toss them out at the end of the trip to make space for those Jimmy Choo’s you picked up in Vegas.
A pair of embellished ballet flats or sandals is a stylish alternative for comfort but make sure any new shoes are ‘worn in’ before packing them in that suitcase. Wedges are great for a dressier day look and of course, something with a heel is good for a dressy evening. Throw in the Havaianas for pool-side or beach antics.
They can be deceivingly heavy, luggage-space thieves. Avoid full size products. If you can’t find travel size products, make your own – buy miniature containers (readily available in supermarkets, chemists and specialty stores) for shampoo, conditioner, moisturisers. As attractive as those hotel miniatures are, I’m not always convinced that they’re great products – you’re better off sticking to your own and avoiding using/buying products you don’t already use, to reduce the risk of an undesirable allergic reaction. An itch is a b!^(# anytime...but more so vacation.
Place any potential leakables in clip seal plastic bags. Avoid carrying nail polish remover. Ever. It has a habit of expanding at altitude and leaking. Opt for nail polish remover wipes if you must.
Take your own hairdryer. It saves the six hours you’ll spend trying to dry thick or long hair with one of those low wattage hotel dryers that are more like someone blowing warm breath on your hair.
I have issues with plane (and some coach) seats. I don’t know who designs them but they seem unnaturally aligned to me and my neck, so if you feel the same and are not fortunate enough to be in Row 1 or in a Skybed, then get yourself a travel pillow for long journeys - you know the ones – those U shaped things that sit around your neck.
Lugging it around...
Consider your luggage...and luggage limits on the all airline(s) you choose to fly. Unless you have an entourage to lug it around for you, the less stress it places on you to lug it around, the better, so invest in good quality, durable, easily manoeuvrable options. A cabin size option plus a check-in size option should do the job. Although generally more expensive, the lighter weight options are going to mean less likelihood of excess luggage fees, especially if you conveniently skimmed over my advice to not pack every shoe you own.
If you intend to buy half of America on your vacation, it makes sense to pack lightly and by lightly I mean fill your cabin luggage and place this inside your larger check-in suitcase. You then at least have a hope of taking some of America home in the larger suitcase.
Rolling, rather than folding garments that have a tendency to crease when packed, may eliminate major creasing. You may even get away without having to iron them at all. Hang any garments that need hanging as soon as you reach your hotel room and the creases may even fall out of them or try hanging them in the bathroom as you shower in the hope that the steam will release the crease. Winning!
The little bits and pieces, jewellery and basic medical supplies are always tricky to pack – I love the cosmetics/toiletry bags that have separate, clear compartments and roll up to make one small, compact bag. Everything is protected, yet easily accessible. Love at first sight.
You know those travel space bags on the market? The pack and vac ones? Yeah, I’m not a fan. They encourage over-packing and you’re likely to smash that luggage limit. Excess baggage is so expensive and depending on the mood of the person at the check-in counter, you could pay for being even as little as 200g over.
Take it onboard
All tickets, itineraries, hotel and transfer details
Passport, identification and money
Notepad (having so much time and little to do, my mind wanders and comes up with ideas of things I want to do, business ideas etc. Its actually a great time to contemplate goals or create a bucket list.
Reading material & personal entertainment devices, including chargers.
Hand sanitizer/wet ones (airline food down the front of Morrissey business class pyjamas is not a good look)
Toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, essential oils (like Lavender for relaxation), moisturiser, comb/brush (for long haul flights)
Socks & large scarf to use as a blanket (for comfort & warmth on long haul flights)
Continues in Holiday-yy. It would be so nice - Part 3