Everyone has a superpower; actually, I have two: one is being able to tell, 100% of the time, what you want to eat. Honestly, if you’re in a restaurant looking at a menu, or sitting at your desk bleating that you don’t know what to have for lunch, just ask me and I’ll help you out. My other superpower is that I pack incredibly light. This is probably related to my (self diagnosed) OCD tendencies - I mean, just look at my desk. This is actually what it looks like every day.
That pencil is REALLY bothering me right now
Seriously, I went on a 4-day hen weekend a couple of months ago and while everyone else was dislocating their shoulders by dragging big heavy suitcases, I nimbly skipped onto our delightful Ryanair flight* with a tiny Samsonite carry-on. Hideously smug? ‘Fraid so!
My beloved, battered 30-year-old Samsonite carry-on. Polite Pup is there to show scale and also because he is an excellent travelling companion.
But it’s not hard to be as smug as me! You just need to ask yourself some searching questions and answer honestly. I think people overpack because they’re worried that they’re going to be thrust into some unexpected and outlandish situation and won’t have the right clothes for it.
Realistically, what’s the worst that could happen? Will people point and tut and eye-roll because you’re wearing your ‘day sandals’ to dinner? Might you suddenly find yourself in need of a formal frock to wear to the opera… on a beach holiday? Nope, so relax, listen and learn…
To pack really light, you need to start with a ‘foundation garment’ – no, not one of these:
But a bland, boring versatile piece of clothing that you can dress up and down and wear during the day and night and in all weathers. I’m talking about a pair of cropped trousers, a tunic dress or your favourite skirt. Booorrrrring yes, but it’s the jazz you surround this humble, hardworking garment with that matters. Like the gravy on a roast for example (oh how I love a lazy food/fashion metaphor.)
So for a long weekend in Paris say, I could get away with wearing the same trousers every day with three different tops (tee, Breton and shirt) plus a jumper and blazer. In the evening, add heels, during the day, wear brogues. And as I’m travelling in that basic outfit, all I need to stuff in my bag are two tops (and maybe one more for evening) and a pair of heels, plus jammies and mini toiletries. BOOM.
The same would apply with a tunic dress – wear a different top underneath it each day with tights and boots during the day and pack a lightweight dress for evening.
Again, I respectfully refer you to my ‘no-one cares’ theory: Think about it; who are you travelling with – your mum? Your partner? Your mates? Do you honestly think they’ll pass out from shock if you wear the same trousers or dress for three days in a row? Neither your travelling companions nor the good people of Paris (or wherever you’re minibreaking) could give a monkeys, so get over it and put those extra outfits back in the closet.
And for a week in the sun? Same principles apply. I’m taking a ridiculously late ‘summer’ holiday at the end of September in Sicily and because of my notoriously and spectacular stinginess, I am insisting on sharing a suitcase with my beloved to avoid having to PAY to take two on board (rage). In your face ‘low cost’ airlines!
I’ll be travelling in my bulkiest items – navy shorts, a t-shirt, jumper and blazer with a lovely scarf I found in TK Maxx in case it’s chilly on the plane (can wear this in the evenings too). Then all I need is two tops, some cotton sundresses that roll up nice and tight, a couple of bikinis and an oversized linen men’s shirt to wear on the beach. Yes, I'll wear it every single day and it'll probably be stiff with suncream and saltwater by the end of the week but who cares? Oh yeah, and footwear: canvas brogues/trainers to travel in, nice sandals for day/evening and flip-flops. Done. I promise you, all this fits in half a suitcase – look!
Yes, this is how I spend my Sundays - pretend-packing a suitcase just for you.
Here it all is unpacked: 5 dresses, shorts and 2 tops, bikini, sandals, jammies, scarf, toiletries. Would have plonked towel and beach shirt on top but I can't find them, oops!
So tell me, how do you pack? Are you a saddo like me and plan it all out to the last detail, or do you panic-pack the night before and find you've got three sweaters and no bikini bottoms when you reach your destination?