What to take on holiday? Pack less and wear more
It's a good dilemma to have. You're travelling to a beach or city break and need to pack the best capsule wardrobe possible.
Tribal beach cover up tunic £29 from Airy Mary.
Zara sandal in black £29.99
Zara light green dungarees with drawstring waist £39.99
Zara printed jumpsuit £19.99
Tips for holiday packing
I suspect that I'm unusual among women, but I feel less stressed about clothes when I have fewer to choose from. When I'm travelling my lack of choice is liberating. At home, bulging wardrobes rarely hold anything I actually want to wear. Invariably, the item I really need is in the laundry basket and I leave the house feeling less than confident. On holiday however, I’ve put careful thought into my packing and only have access to clothes which look good together, don’t crease and fit me. It's the closest thing to a capsule wardrobe I'll ever have.
The items which make it abroad are my favourite and most flattering. How do I get to this point? By trying everything on to check it fits and arranging piles of outfits which go together. I then reduce it by around half. As I'm too lazy to bother handwashing on holiday, I take enough underwear for the whole trip. A LOT. I once met a girl who was going on a 28-day hiking tour. She had stuffed 28 thong briefs into a zip-lock bag the size of small purse. I marvelled at her ingenuity and luck with underwear. My briefs are more Bridget Jones than tiny tangas and take up half a suitcase.
How much swimwear should we pack? On my last holiday to Thailand, my swimwear wouldn’t dry on the balcony due to humidity. Nor would it dry hanging in the room's ice cool air-conditioning. I stayed at three different hotels and my swimwear was NEVER dry. I was forced to pack wet swimwear each time. I wore wet swimwear to breakfast every morning because I’d only packed three bikinis. It was my first experience of the non-drying swimwear phenomenon and I won’t make that mistake again.
Apart from a baseball cap for an activity holiday, I never pack a hat. Oh, how I envy women who exude Hollywood glamour in large sun hats or casual boho-coolness in cowboy-shaped straw hats. I’m not one of them and I wouldn’t know how to pack a straw hat without squashing it anyway. If you have this knowledge please share with us.
I find that sleeveless cotton tunics are my most versatile holiday staple. I can wear them with short leggings on a trip to town or over a swimsuit at lunch. Sarongs earn their place in my case by doubling as wraps in the evening, cover for my head when I need shade and with a t-shirt and sandals at night – securely fastened with a safety pin - so that my afore-mentioned Bridget Jones pants don't break any by-laws.
For the suitcase itself, around four years ago I received an unexpected work bonus and invested in Samsonite’s lightest case ever in a shade of lipstick red. It has probably been superseded by even lighter cases now, but it rotates on 4 wheels and moves with the grace and ease of a prima ballerina. I was shocked to find myself handing over the price of a small car for a suitcase. But I love it and immediately worried that it would be stolen by a baggage handler clued up on the value of such a desirable case. So I covered my new, expensive Samsonite with ugly electrical tape to make it look broken and shabby. That’s what I pull through airports now and I don’t mind one bit.
For shoes, don’t waste you time or space packing heels. You. Will. Not. Wear. Them.
For beach bags think practical, easy to rinse out and lightweight. A bag which co-ordinates with the rest of your beachwear is a bonus. Shouldering a massive straw bag through the airport because it wouldn't pack in your case is usually an error we make only once. Those additional baggage fees can get your holiday off to a bad start.
Jumpsuits have overtaken maxi dresses for me. Being 5’ 4’’ I like that they skim my hips and create a taller, sleeker silhouette than a figure-drowning maxi-dress. I'm conscious that some people will never be persuaded to convert to a jumpsuit, but I implore you to give them a go. Overlook the extra time required for bathroom visits and trust me when I say the right one can enhance your curves, drag you back to your youth and make you feel invincible. Better still, opt for a playsuit. You can fit more of them in the case. Is it a well-known fact that men aren't hugely turned on by their women wearing dungarees, jumpsuits and playsuits? Or is that just the men I've known? In any case, close your eyes to that and invest in a few.
Got any advice on holiday packing? Seen something on the high street that everyone should know about? We'd love to hear from you.