Look who’s branching out into writing travel posts. Last year was the year of staycations and the odd UK mini-break (aside from a whirlwind visit to Rome), but prior to that I’ve been lucky enough to visit some truly amazing places including the Caribbean, Northern Africa, the West Coast of the USA from Seattle to California, Sydney and the surrounding area, and more than a few beautiful places in Europe. J and I also have some exciting trips planned this year, so I’ll be certainly writing about them as and when they happen.
First on my list for 2018 trips is a hen do in a country I’ve always wanted to go to since I have family connections there: Poland. My grandfather was Polish and I’ve always wanted to visit so I’m thrilled to now have a chance – and even more excited that it will be a girlie weekend with all sorts of fun and games involved. I’m counting down the days!
I’m also starting to freak out just a tad about packing (because most of my stuff is still in boxes following the move), so it’s time to have a look at what to take for a mini-break and how to stop yourself from overstuffing your carry-on bag.
If you go over your luggage limit, it’s going to cost you. Either that or you can be the person in the airport unpacking their suitcase at the check-in desk and cursing everyone in sight as you try in vain to think of ways you can ditch the items you didn’t need to bring to begin with. So try to be strict with yourself at the outset and only take what you need.
Depending which airline you’re flying with, you may only be allowed one carry-on item. That’s one, not one plus your handbag. So make sure you can fit your handbag into your case if you’re told at check-in that you have to do so. Check luggage allowances before you go – ideally a week or two before at the very latest – so that you have plenty of time to make any alterations and allowances.
- Choose a lightweight suitcase or weekend bag. There’s nothing worse than having a luggage limit and your suitcase eating half of it up. Take something easy to carry with lots of space and compartments for all your things. Small suitcases, weekend bags, and tote bags are all good shouts depending where you’re going and how long for.
- Plan your itinerary. Know what shoes you might need, if you need a jacket or not, and if one pair of flip-flops will do the trick. Check the weather and pack appropriately.
- Plan your outfits. And stick to those plans. Work out where you’re going, choose an outfit for each occasion, and try them on before you go to make sure everything fits and matches (especially important if you haven’t dusted off your beachwear since last season). Try to take a minimal amount of jewellery, because untangling a necklace nest is not a good way to spend your holiday, and try to take one or two pairs of shoes at most.
- Wear the bulky items. Huge jumper that you simply have to take hogging half the space in your suitcase? Wear it on the plane and layer up. Awkward hat that just doesn’t want to be packed? Wear it or carry it on. Two pairs of expensive sunglasses you don’t want squashed? Stick a pair on your head and one in your bag.
- Mix and match items. You can wear the same top twice, or the same pair of jeans. Take clothing in neutral colours and wearable shapes so that you can work an item into your outfit more than once – especially day-to-night.
- Don’t pack statement pieces that you ‘might’ wear. Chances are you won’t, unless you’ve bought it fr a patricularly special occasion. Stick to your favourites and the things you know you can style up.
- Make use of packing hacks. Roll things up as tight as you can. Stuff underwear into your shoes. Bring an empty tote bag that can be folded up into the size of a matchbox for your dirty items.
- Beauty essentials only. Now is not the time to try out a new look. Stick to only the essentials for make-up, decant what you can into travel bottles, and it’s OK to forgo the daytime/nighttime perfume regime and only take one shade of lipstick. A mini bottle of dry shampoo is great if you’re the type of girl who doesn’t wash her hair every day (raises hand). Go for the beauty miniatures because they’re a sure-fire space saver and will stop you from taking every single shower gel and hair product you possess.
- Have the essentials to hand. A travel wallet is essential, and in it you should have your passport, boarding pass, credit cards/driving license and your money. Your phone too, if there’s room. This should be easy to grab but secure – so don’t leave your bag open or have the zip somewhere easily accessible to pickpocketers.
Some things to ponder…
Who are you travelling with?
If it’s a girls holiday, try and have a chat beforehand about the things you’re taking. You don’t all need to take hairdryers, straighteners, etc. Take one thing each – and forgo the hairdryer if you’re staying in a hotel. They’ll have one in the bathroom 99% of the time. And if they don’t? Give your hair a break from heat styling for a few days.
If you’re travelling as a couple, can you make do with one suitcase between you?
Can you go digital?
Gone are the days when I weigh my case down with 4+ books to read on holiday depending on my mood. Before any trip I spend a few hours one evening loading up my Kindle, downloading the app onto my phone (in case my husband wants to pinch it as he so often does) and choosing a selection of audiobooks to listen to. I highly recommend the Audible app, it’s easy to use and the tokens do mount up quickly if you’re a slow listener.
Don’t leave the downloading spree to the airport. The Wifi is probably debatable and you don’t want to suck up all your data right before a fresh adventure. Do it at home. You’re less likely to panic choose the wrong books, too.