Packing Light

Maybe you are the type that goes to Phuket and lies on a sun lounge, alternating between a kaftan and a bikini, with no need to pack much else. I SALUTE YOU. For most holiday travellers, though, the temptation to pack a lifetime’s worth of clothing, beauty products and hair styling tools into a suitcase is rife. Packing can be daunting when you’re standing in a pile of clothes the night before a big trip, attempting to bend the laws of mathematics to stretch the definition of 30 kilograms.  

If, when you travel, you:

  1. Love to look BANGING when you’re on vacation (who doesn’t?)
  2. Like outfit options (guilty!)
  3. Dislike wearing the same outfit multiple times in the same week (double guilty!)
  4. Are neither muscular nor motivated enough to lug any extra weight in your wheelie bag...

Maybe you should...

MAKE A LIST

Do you remember getting ready for school camp, clutching a well-worn, school-issued checklist for everything you would need to pack for a three-day foray into the bush with your 12-year-old peers? Well, chances are you won’t need a sleeping bag, a torch or two pairs of running shoes (in case one pair gets wet), but the same principles apply. Lists work. Make a note of all that you plan to be doing on your trip, what the weather will be like and whether you will have access to washing facilities – then populate your checklist accordingly.

BE PRAGMATIC

Packing success is all about quality over quantity. Do you tend to shop when you travel? If you’re going to be buying new outfits, you may need to pack less than you think. You probably don’t really need to take five pairs of heels. Pick one pair that can be worn with multiple outfits. Another top offender is exercise gear. What’s your track record (pun intended) here? Are you really going to get up and go for early morning jogs each day? Or can the sneakers stay at home? Hairdryers (renowned suitcase space hogs) are generally available in hotel bathrooms, just sayin’…

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PACK SEPARATES

Dresses and jumpsuits are fun (so fun!) and as the primary goal of a holiday is to have fun, it’s always tempting to throw in all your cutest one-piece outfits. However, be warned – these pieces of clothing are usually fun once, and quickly become monotonous. If you pack a carefully curated assortment of tops and bottoms, you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Treat your suitcase like a travelling capsule wardrobe. Choose pieces that will do the hard work for you.

CURATE OUTFITS

Choose your separates carefully, so that they work independently in different outfit combinations. When I’m packing, I like to lay out all my items and then build outfits from there. I try them on, and take a quick snap on my phone of the successful outfits. That way, when I am hunting through my bag looking for the perfect look, I have some quick inspo at the ready. If there are items that don’t really fit in my mix of outfits while I’m playing dress-ups, they get culled from the suitcase.

How many of the same items can you spot in these pics from my holiday last year?

YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH…

  • Denim – perpetually in style, comfortable, goes with everything, wears well with minimal washing
  • Statement tees – trendy, great for outfit mixing, comfortable, easy to wear and wash
  • A leather jacket (although this can be heavy, so I usually choose to wear mine on the plane)
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USE ACCESSORIES TO SPICE THINGS UP

Earrings and scarves are my favourite travel accessories. They are so light and tiny that you can throw in a dozen options with no effort. And if you choose right, they can really make an outfit POP.  Make sure you factor these into your outfit curation process, so you can see what will work. Hats are trickier to travel with, but I usually like to take one with me, if it’s in keeping with the rest of my outfits. I usually travel with one versatile handbag; I like a cross-body bag that is big enough to hold a water bottle and camera and any other day-trip travel essentials but also lightweight. I usually take only one pair of shoes. On my last big trip, I took my RM Williams gold boots: they go with everything, are super comfortable to walk in all day and pretty well suited to any weather. If you're heading on a beach vacation, thongs/sandals are a great option as they take up very little room. 

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YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY SMALL POUCHES

Seriously. They are SO. DAMN. HANDY. You can be fancy and buy some 'packing cells', but you can find cute pouches just about everywhere. They are always in plentiful supply at op shops and I find they just somehow show up in my house often. My very talented friends at In Our Nest make seriously stylish nappy pouches that I use religiously (even though I don’t have children). These also double as clutch bags - voilà! Packing into pouches keeps things organised which saves you time and energy, and helps everything fit so nicely into the suitcase. 

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BEG, BORROW, STEAL

Okay, maybe don't steal... but if you are travelling with friends, remember that you can probably borrow things like jewellery, clothing, shoes (such as that extra pair of heels!) make-up, nail polish (and nail polish remover!) or a hair straightener. It's highly cheeky, but there's always that person in the group that travels with everything but the kitchen sink. Let them do the manual labour for you! 

EVERYTHING ELSE

  • MAKE-UP: Resist the temptation to bring your entire make-up bag. Think carefully about the looks you have created, the events you will be attending and how much make-up you will actually want/need. Before any vacation, I like to get my eyebrows and eyelashes tinted and then go make-up free as often as possible. 
  • BOOKS: I love the feel of a paper book, but before any trip I load up my kindle with everything on my TBR list. This means I can carry around 20 new books with me and they weigh less than one standard sized book. Winning! 
  • LAPTOP: Every time I take a laptop with me overseas, it remains untouched. Unless you are travelling for work, leave the lappy behind; there's nothing you will want to do on it that you can't do on your phone.