Packing light makes travelling easier, and often much of what we bring we don’t end up using. As someone who has done quite a bit of short stay travel, for both work and holidays, I have developed a few tricks that I swear by to pack efficiently and bring only what I will need.
1. For how many days you are travelling, pack approximately half that many tops and bottoms
This is a rule I stick to which seems to work well. Following this rule means I get a full wear out of everything I bring without feeling like I’m wearing unclean clothes. If you’re planning a very active holiday, you may need to adjust this slightly, particularly for tops (although if you have washing facilities it doesn’t matter). However, I do encourage you to be realistic about how often your items really will need washing, as if you’re planning to mostly lie around the pool or stroll around town, they’ll probably last a few days!
2. Pack items that can all be worn with each other
Take some time to choose items that can be mixed-and-matched with each other in various combinations. This is key to feeling like you still have a lot of variety in your outfit choices while packing lightly.
3. If you only intend to wear an item on one occasion, skip it!
If you follow rule 1 and 2, you probably won’t have any one-occasion items left. However, if you do, skip it! Replace it with something that you can wear on multiple occasions, for example, a long skirt that can be dressed up for dinner or dressed down to wear during the day.
4. Pack low maintenance items
Sticking to items that won’t crush or crease when rolled or folded up will save you a lot of hassle. Unless you plan to bring an iron or steamer, low maintenance clothes are the way to go!
5. Check ahead to see what amenities are available to avoid bringing unnecessary items
Research exactly what your accommodation provides, and don’t bring along anything that it does. For example, most hotels/airbnbs/resorts will have hairdryers available. Sure, it might not be as great a hairdryer as your own, but will do the job for a week.
6. Check the weather, and trust it
One day this might catch me out, but it hasn’t happened yet. If you’re going somewhere that is averaging 30°C (86°F) everyday, you’re probably not going to need jeans or a coat. Similarly, if you’re going north in the winter, you can probably leave the shorts behind.
7. Be realistic about shoes
Shoes are super bulky, so you have to be brutal about which ones you choose to take and leave. I wouldn’t usually take more than two pairs; runners/joggers and a pair of sandals or boots (depending on the weather). My holidays tend to involve a lot of walking, so I get over any qualms about wearing runners with every outfit and just enjoy having feet that don’t hurt and a bag that’s light.
8. Share what you can with your travel companion
If you’re travelling with others, you can probably share quite a few items to save space, such as toiletries. My partner and I will share sunscreen, moisturiser, cleanser and toothpaste.
9. Minimalise your make-up routine
If you wear make-up, decide which 3 or 4 items are essential to achieve a look you want, and pack only these. Avoid bringing bulky items such as makeup palettes, and choose items that can double as others. For example, lipstick can also work as blush, bronzer can work as eyeshadow, and mascara can work as eyeliner. Before a holiday, I tint my eyebrows and eyelashes (at home) to add a little something to my face with less makeup needed.
10. Pack for the real you, not the aspirational one
In the excitement of an upcoming holiday, we can sometimes pack items that we think we might suddenly choose to wear, even though we never wear them in our day-to-day life. These might be trend pieces that we haven’t had the courage to experiment with yet, or clothing that is beautiful, but super uncomfortable or tight.
Unsurprisingly, I think these items should be decluttered altogether, but at the very least, they shouldn’t be coming on holiday. To pack effectively, you need to be absolutely certain you will want to wear what you have brought. Your suitcase should realistically showcase your most worn items. This is why I always pack some workout clothes, because I know realistically this is what I am most comfortable in, and will want to wear.
Extra: What I packed on holiday to Port Douglas!
Recently, my partner and I went on a holiday to Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. We were there for 9 days, and shared a 12kg suitcase between us. We knew the weather was going to be very hot and humid, and that washing facilities were available if needed. I thought I would share everything I packed, to give some insight into how I travel lightly.
Clothes and shoes
- Five tops (two linen singlets; crop top; workout top; white t-shirt)
- Four bottoms (denim shorts; denim skirt, long skirt; workout shorts)
- One dress
- One denim jacket (for the plane!)
- One bikini
- Ten pairs of underwear, two bras, three socks
- One sports crop
- Two pairs of shoes (runners; sandals)
- One pyjama shirt
- Makeup bag (foundation; mascara; blush; lip balm; 2 brushes)
- Hair brush
- Travel pot of face cleanser, travel pot of moisturiser (one of which I lost ☹️)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Aloe vera gel
- Phone charger
- Water bottle
What I packed here was just enough to get me through the nine days, noting that we did one small load of washing (underwear and workout wear) halfway through the trip. One thing I wish I brought that I didn’t was a book, as there was a lot of downtime lying by the pool!