Holiday packing hell? Here are our top tips for packing like a pro

Packing for holiday? It's that time of year when the packing list comes out... But where to start? Follow our top holiday packing tips to make your holiday easy

I travel a lot: as part of my role as Marie Claire Fashion Editor, I’ve racked up a fair few air miles. Whether it’s packing my own case for a whirlwind European trip for a new snazzy shop opening, or filling up to ten cases with new-season looks for a long-haul flight to some far-flung destination to shoot a fashion story, there isn’t much I don’t know about packing a case and closing it without busting the zip, yes, I know a thing or two about airline secrets.
Whether you’re on a city break and need to know how to pack light (fast!), or you’re super organised and are already looking for a holiday packing list for 2 weeks time, think of this as your ultimate holiday packing checklist filled with top holiday packing tips on what to take and what to leave…
holiday packing tips

How to nail it in the luggage department

How to do holiday packing like a pro

First things first, decide whether you are a wheely-suitcase kinda gal or a soft, squishy holdall-loving type. If you want an upgrade (er, always), go for a chic understated style, whether it’s a case or a holdall in a block colour. Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to the bright yellow rucksack you had at university.

I’m personally more comfortable with a oversized holdall. My go-to is the Voyager bag from Eddie Harrop; with its leather fabric and roomy shape, it’s the perfect size for one night away. I can also be found using this leather classic Lonchamp style when packing for a holiday. Good cases are expensive, but they do last. Sale time is always a great time to indulge. Team Marie Claire favour American Tourister luggage for all our travelling needs on shoots: go for a four-wheeler hard case and always choose a bigger size than you think you’ll need. Tumi and Samsonite also do great options.

How to pack like an editor…

When we are about to go on a trip, the Marie Claire fashion cupboard becomes a hive of activity with cases laid out open all ready to be filled. Sometimes there can be up to ten cases but, whether you are taking one or ten, you can follow the same rules at home. Lay out your case up to a week before your trip, adding holiday clothes and accessories in as and when you remember them. Always lay shoes in first, in pairs on the sides. Fill in any gaps with belts (rolled up), jewellery and lingerie. Then lay clothes flat.

If using a soft holdall, use the same rules for shoes and accessories, but roll your clothes. For tangle-free jewellery on the move, store your daily treasures in a daily pill dispenser (try Boots or Muji) for a cheap and easy alternative to a jewellery roll or pouch.

Meet your ultimate packing list…

Don’t pack things you would never wear at home. Yes, you might be going backpacking, but that doesn’t mean you need those zip-off leg cargo trousers. (No one needs them. Ever.) Same rules apply for beach towels: they take up far too much precious space. If you really must have something to lie on the beach, see below point and use your sarong.

Take layers.. and lots of them…

It may be freezing, when you’re wandering around town but you’ll soon warm up when you find a little winery to hang out in for the afternoon. We suggest going for knitwear in neutral shades that can be worn with a variety of different outfits. A shirt is another piece every girl should include on her city break packing list. Truly versatile, it can be worn under a snug sweater or alone if the temperature starts to pick up.

The smell of success…

To keep your clothes smelling fresh as a daisy when travelling, add in a scented lavender bag. Failing that, pick one up on your travels in the local market for your next trip. Plus an essential to ensure your bag keeps smelling sweet is to pack away your dirty laundry. Nina Campbell does the cutest laundry bags, or try John Lewis.

Decide on your suitcase staples…

Stick to a colour palette of no more than three shades and you’ll find that all of your holiday wardrobe will work together. I always pack in outfits, this way you won’t end up with one side of your case that doesn’t even see the light of day and you can save your excess baggage fee for cocktails by the pool. Lay everything out, even your accessories, and style up each outfit to come up with a mini capsule holiday wardrobe. If you can’t wear something with two different pieces, then don’t add it to your bag. Essentially, make everything work hard and do two jobs. An on-trend kimono is a great option.

holiday packing tips

We wish we were here…

A printed pyjama pant is a must, they’re ideal when denim cut-offs aren’t appropriate. I’ve fallen for new brand Paloma Blue; the luxury resortwear label has all your holiday dressing sorted with a collection of camisoles, silk shorts and casual trousers, all in fun prints. A body-con dress is the perfect day-to-night piece: team with Superga trainers in the day then add high party heels for night-time fun. Finally, the key piece of the summer, the boho peasant top and off the shoulder styles are a must-have. Talitha is the dream but if your budget doesn’t stretch, Mango and Zara have some perfect options that scream designer. Throw over your bikini during the day then add lashings of delicate gold jewellery and skinny cropped denim for cocktails. Finally the trophy skirt. Look for a mash-up of tribal, embellishment and mini in length and you are on the right track. Perfect for a spot of sightseeing teamed with a T-shirt and espadrilles then swap for wedges for the bar crawl as the sun goes down.

I never leave my house for a flight without a cashmere scarf. Planes are always so freezing, plus it doubles up as a pillow. If you go for a more summer style, swap the cashmere for tribal print, dip-dye or pom-poms, and you have yourself a perfect option. They are perfect for lying on the beach, covering up by the pool, they can be worn as a long skirt, a miniskirt, a minidress, a turban, a wrap… The options are endless. Try Rose & Rose and Accessorize for some great styles.

Always take a pair of sunglasses with you! Mirrored lenses, cat-eyes and tortoiseshell styles are all hits for summer. Remember to pack in your hand luggage so when you step off the plane you are holiday-ready. Boom.

How to get a flight upgrade…

Because we are all after that upgrade, let’s be honest: you have to dress the part. I favour a cashmere seperates: Boden, Equipment and Chinti & Parker all do great options. Layer up: you keep warm at the airport, plus you are wearing all your bulky items rather than loading up your case. Winning.

Be clever with your bags…

Your back-up bag. Yes, it might sound like the kind of thing your mum tells you to do, but trust us, it’s saved us more than once and is a *must* on your packing list. If you have ever had the misfortune of a lost bag then you will understand. Your SOS bag has your essentials in (we are talking lingerie, swimsuit, sunnies and flip-flops to put on as soon as you land), so no matter what happens to your checked-in luggage you are sorted on arrival. If you want to be really clever, double up your SOS bag as your beach bag.

Hats on your in-flight wardrobe…

If you don’t fancy wearing your sun hat at the airport, make sure you pack it with the inside full of something like lingerie or socks to help it keep its shape. Swap your panama for a high top and wide brim like these Yosuzi styles for the 2016 spin. Failing that, don’t risk damaging it in your suitcase: buy one when you’re there and leave it for the next guest!

holiday packing tips

… And also here

Your essential travel beauty kit…

It’s always easier to be more natural on holiday, so you really don’t need as much make-up as you think. If you can’t bear not taking your favourites, try brands that can be doubled up, like Charlotte Tilbury’s beach stick. It always finds its place in our holiday clutch, teamed with Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess fragrance (a whiff of that takes us right back to the beach). Our Beauty Editor swears by an antioxidant serum such as SkinCeuticals; slather it on after being in the sun to neutralise all the free radicals you’ve been soaking up all day, helping to prevent cell damage. Insect repellent is a must-have; we like this chic option from Roullier White plus a lavender roll-on from Tisserand never leaves our side, perfect for when you’ve been bitten to ease the itching. The waterproof make-up we don’t leave home without is YSL mascara for when you need that added extra oomph. Wear with La Roche Posey Hydreane BB cream with SPF and you’re good to go. If in doubt, here are the beauty secrets only flight attendants know about.

Finally, if you are travelling short haul and not checking your luggage in, decant your favourites into Muji mini bottles. There is nothing worse than seeing your favourites being binned at security. For the ultimate in beauty wash bags, treat yourself to the Anya Hindmarch flight bag, so chic. If you are flying long-haul, it’s worth trying one of these beauty tips to help you deal with long haul flight skin woes.

All that remains is for me to give you one of my final holiday packing tips before you head off for a fuss-free airport check-in. So, here goes, and you’ve probably heard it a million times before but it’s totally true:

Lay out everything you think you need to take and then cut it by half. Happy holidays!

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