Holidays are exciting. A well-earned treat. A time for fun and relaxation.
So why is it that preparing to go on holiday can be SO stressful?!
Remembering to cancel the milk/weekly vegetable delivery, organising kennels or house sitting and the frantic last minute changing of bed sheets and washing towels, (or is it just me that likes to come home to clean sheets and fresh towels?!) is exhausting. Add packing the perfect holiday wardrobe into the mix and there’s no wonder we get overwhelmed and frustrated.
When I asked my Facebook followers what the biggest frustration with packing was, the most common answer was how to avoid over-packing. Its tempting to take a massive case with all-the-options but if you end up bringing half of it home unworn you could have saved yourself the bother of ramming it all in.
The secret to effective packing is to put some thought into what you might want to wear in advance. Then the aim is to work out a combination of mix and matchable pieces that mean you have options, but you aren’t taking everything you own.
Step 1 – Decide on your travel outfit and hand luggage
This might seem a bit back-to-front, but I like to decide what I’m going to wear to travel in before I start to pack. It makes sense to plan to wear anything that is heavy, bulky or tricky to pack – as long as it is comfortable to wear and fit for purpose! The aim here is to wear pieces that can be used again.
Traveling in trainers is a great idea if you know you’ll wear them on holiday. They take up a lot of space in a suitcase and are super comfortable for all the airport walking. I always wear a light jacket or cardigan on the plane, partly to keep me warm above the clouds but also it’s useful to have a least one warm layer in case of cooler weather/ evenings. Depending on where you are flying to, you may need more than one option.
I always take a large scarf in my hand luggage. A scarf is great to wear if you are leaving silly-early when it’s still dark and cold when you leave for the airport. It will be useful on the plane and potentially a great accessory for your holiday should you need it. Take the right kind of scarf and it can double up as a sarong, a beach dress and a cooler evenings layer.
You might decide to take a hand luggage bag that can double up as a beach bag/rucksack or a light handbag that will be useful for your holiday. Again, think about what would be most useful and multi-functional.
Step 2 – Planning and list-making
Check on the weather forecast before you go. Don’t assume it’ll be wall to wall sunshine. Also, be aware of the likely temperatures in the evenings so that you can pack the right kind of clothes for the evenings.
Think about the activities you’ll be enjoying whilst you are away. Will you be poolside all day and out for dinner every night? Will there be some sightseeing? Maybe you are self-catering and will be enjoying bbqs on your terrace and don’t need lots of fancy evening outfits. Having an idea of what you’ll be getting up to gives you direction on how much of each type of clothing you’ll need. There’s no point taking all your fancy pants clothes if you’ll mainly be in beachwear and shorts and t-shirts.
Step 3 – Your basics
Next, start making piles of clothing you’d like to take. Don’t start packing things into the case until you know exactly what/how much you’re taking. You might be able to use a smaller case than you thought when you follow my guidelines! If a different case isn’t an option, I’d still recommend waiting until you have the whole picture to start putting things into it. Until you have the whole picture, you won’t know which items to put where and what can be stuffed into shoes.
Underwear – remember to take into account whether you’ll need strapless bras, nude underwear etc.
Nightwear – unless you sleep in your birthday suit…
Swimwear – don’t over-pack. I suggest three options for one week. Maybe an extra if you are away for longer. That way you’ll always have one drying, one to wear and a spare one ready to change into.
Kaftans/sarongs/cover-ups – Two should be fine for one week.
Shoes – Yes, you can decide which shoes to take before you decide on your outfits! This is true capsule packing. All you need for a week away is the trainers you travel in, flip flops for the beach/pool and a pair of nude or metallic sandals that will work with every evening outfit. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve packed heels and not worn them.
Your daytime activities that might require ‘non-beach’ attire could be: breakfast, sightseeing, shopping.
For these activities, I’d suggest a selection of shorts/skirts and t-shirts and/or sundresses.
For one week away, I recommend you take one pair of shorts and one cotton/linen skirt with three vest tops or t-shirts. Choose tops that will work equally well with each bottom. This gives you six daytime casual outfits. If you prefer dresses, either swap out the shorts/skirt or lose one top and replace it with a dress. The combination that is right for you depends on LOTS of things but my message here is that by choosing versatile pieces and thinking outside the box when it comes to mixing and matching, you’ll find combinations that work and avoid taking all your summer clothes.
This is MORE than enough for one week, possibly too many. Please remember that it’s ok to repeat wear outfits!
Outfits for cocktails, dining out or relaxed bbq’s at the villa.
I think these are the kind of outfits that most people get carried away with. Usually you’ll only be wearing these kind of outfits for a few hours at a time, so it makes sense to try to mix and match pieces and use them more than once.
The combination of tops, bottoms and dresses/jumpsuits you decide to pack will depend on your personal style but a good mix would be:
Trousers/skirts x 2
Evening tops x 2
This combination would create 6 different outfits. This is more than enough for one week and could even be fine for two. As I said, it is fine to repeat wear your favourite combinations!
I love to wear a dress on holiday. Sometimes I only take dresses away with me. If so, I’ll take 4 or 5 for one week. They take up hardly any room in my suitcase when I roll them up to pack so I don’t mind taking a few.
If this doesn’t feel like enough outfit options, remember that you could also mix and match your daytime pieces with your evening pieces. A lovely skirt worn with a plain t-shirt or your daytime shorts with a pretty blouse are great alternative options. When you take this into account, you actually have the potential for 6 more outfits. Waaaay more than you’ll need for one week but I know you like to have options!
See how easy it is when you pack a capsule wardrobe?
But what if my tops and bottoms don’t go together?
The key to a successful holiday capsule wardrobe is knowing your style. When you know your style, you’ll have plenty of colours that work well together, and cuts and styles that work together. I bet if I was to look in your wardrobe, I’d find more mix and matchable options that you ever believed. You don’t need to match patterns with black or white. Try them with colour, even if that colour isn’t in the print. It could still work if the colours have the same qualities.
Holiday Capsule Wardrobe Summary
3 x swimsuits
2 x cover-ups
Trainers (wear to travel in)
Nude or metallic sandals (of course you CAN take more shoes than this, but you don’t HAVE to!)
1 x Shorts
1 X Cotton skirt
3 x T-shirts
2 x loose leg trousers (or 1 x trousers and 1 x skirt)
2 X evening tops
2 x dresses
Changing your accessories is another way to create different looks and dressing up a basic t-shirt to make it more evening appropriate.
I’d recommend that you leave the real jewellery at home and pack costume pieces. Pack your jewellery into a travel jewellery case. If you find that your fine necklaces get tangled in your case, try the straw trick. Thread one end of your necklace through a straw and fasten it to keep it tangle free. Cut the straw to the right length if needed.
You only need two or three bags for your holiday. Firstly, a beach bag. Although this could double up as your hand luggage (meaning you only need two bags) and an evening bag. A neutral colour, metallic or even a cute little straw bag will go with every outfit.
How To Pack
I am a great fan of the rolling (rather than folding) technique. Not only does rolling take up less room but the clothes are more likely to be ready to wear on arrival because rolling means fewer creases.
So that’s it! My guide to stress-free packing. Give it a go and leave me a comment! I’d love to know if this has been helpful.
Have a wonderful holiday!