I’m laid back, Dominic is uptight, but when it comes to packing for a holiday, there’s a shift in our personalities. Dominic shoves a few things into his bag without any thought (often resulting in forgotten underpants and toiletries), whereas I panic pack and become the 23.2kg girl. The one unpacking her suitcase at the airport and reloading it into her hold luggage because she’s packed that bit too much. The girl whose one night getaway can often be mistaken for an emigration. You would think that having a small wardrobe might help the situation – if you don’t have much to pack then surely it’s not going to be difficult – but I’m afraid you’re wrong. Instead I’ve been abusing my small wardrobe, taking advantage you might say and rather than applying my minimal thinking to my packing, I want to be prepared for all eventualities and just pack it all.
We went the The Lakes last week for our belated birthday getaway and the girls went on their mini holiday to my mams which meant that they took our overnight suitcase. Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing who gets the best of things in life, the kids always win. So, we were left with two choices; take our extra large suitcase which is embarrassingly battered and huge, or take a small holdall. Although the urge to take the case that would allow me to pack as many ‘but what if’ items as I could was almost overwhelming, the thought of us both hauling a suitcase large enough to fit a small family into a hotel where we were only spending one night was far too embarrassing to succumb to, so the small holdall won. For the first time ever, I was forced to cut back on my packing and to only take what I really needed.
As I locked the house to leave, I had managed to condense what I’d originally planned to take (my whole wardrobe) to just four items of clothing and one pair of shoes (not including underwear ). My Zara tartan blouse, Zara jeans, Zara grey jumper and my Topshop heels (I must stress that this is not a sponsored post for Zara). I’ve added the photos of what I wore while I was away above. How did I do it? How did I go from being an overly anxious, over-packing obsessive, to a sophisticated, light-packing pro?
Checking the weather. Seems obvious, but there has been many occasions where I haven’t. You will most likely find that 1000 metres of snow and rain teamed with 100mph winds aren’t actually going to join you. And if they do, then at least you’ll know they’re coming and can leave the summer dresses at home.
Wearing something twice won’t hurt. I do it all the time at home, so why not when I’m away. No one notices, no one cares. So wear the same pair of jeans for the duration of your stay, take only one pair of shoes, layer the same cardigan over every outfit, the only piece of clothing you need to really change daily is your underwear (and even if you didn’t, I’m sure you’d be ok(ish)).
Miniature toiletries. You pack your clothes, finally manage to close your suitcase (after lying on it for an hour while heaving at the zip) and then you realise you’ve forgotten to pack the heaviest and bulkiest item of all, your toiletries bag. The majority of hotels provide the basics these days – shower wash, hand soap, sometimes shampoo – but they’re not always the same quality that you might be used to at home (when I washed my hair at The Lakes with their ‘luxury’ shampoo, my hair turned into a matted mess). In these instances I find that the reusable travel sets are a great way to take your own toiletries without taking up valuable space in your case.
Do you really need your hairdryer, straighteners and curlers? I’ve taken all three before and used none of them . You can usually check whether a hairdryer is provided on the website of wherever you’re staying and although the hotel hairdryers don’t have a reputation as being the most powerful in the world of hairdryers, they’ll certainly suffice for the sake of a few days. And if you’re going to take any styling tool, take your straighteners as they can give you curly and straight hair. Who has time to style their hair on holiday anyway?
Let the shoes do the talking. Try to take outfits that can all be worn with the same pair of shoes. Shoes take up so much room in your case, but if you can wear the shoes you travelled in for the duration of the trip then that’s a massive bonus. Don’t fall into the trap of taking shoes that you never wear in the hope that you’ll miraculously be attracted to them once you’re in another postcode. I’ve done it before and it never happens. And if you do wish to take multiple pairs of shoes, then wear the biggest/heaviest to travel in.
Always take the smaller bag. If I’d have taken the larger suitcase to The Lakes, I would’ve overloaded it with crap I didn’t need. If the space is there, we naturally have the urge to fill it. Opt for the smaller bag, so that you have no other choice but to be brutal with yourself when it comes to packing it. The smaller the bag, the less you can take.
I’m not denying that packing can be stressful, of course it is, throw some kids in the mix and it can be unbearable. If you forget something of your own you can curse yourself and move on, but forget something of theirs and the world really does end (I know as I did once forget Amelia’s case and all of her clothes that were in it). However, my first packing light experience was a success, even if it was just for a one night stay. I didn’t have a meltdown about my lack of clothes; I realised that no one actually notices/cares if you wear the same skirt you arrived in for your evening meal (they’re having too much fun on their holiday too); and there wasn’t a heatwave in the middle of November. All of my previous travel worries and apprehensions were, not surprisingly, just that, worries. Nothing more.