I remember seeing something on TV once where a woman had her bag searched at customs. The officer commented on her packing skills, saying it was the neatest, most organized suitcase he’d ever seen. I’m not like that… but I’m not like Huckleberry Fin either.
In the same way taking something apart is easier than putting it together, I prefer unpacking to packing – and here’s my full argument on the topic, by the way.
After a fair bit of practice, I’ve whittled my packing technique down to this list I want to share with you here.
I wrote this with a two-week holiday somewhere hot in mind. So quantities should be adjusted depending on how long you’re going away for. If you’re going on a ski holiday, ignore this list for the most part… and don’t forget your skis!
Make sure you have:
Enough T-shirts for at least 10 days if you’re going for as long as that. This means a T for every day.
At least three polo shirts. Polos are great travelling tops. They can be casual and at the same time can be dressed up a bit. Also because they have a collar, polos are good for protecting your neck from the sun.
At least one nice shirt. This doesn’t mean a business shirt. You want one that looks good with jeans or shorts but that you can also wear out at night. Also, choose a dark colour – it’ll hide sweat marks but also food marks. We get clumsier on holiday – fact!
A light jacket or blazer – there’ll always be one cool night while you’re away, guaranteed.
Three pairs of shorts – and no cut-off denim shorts. They look lame and scream ‘tourist’.
Board shorts for the beach. In Brazil men wear a sunga, which is about as tight and small as you should be legally allowed to go. Throw away tight Speedo swimmers. In Australia they are laughingly referred to as ‘budgie-smugglers’. Sometimes surfers wear these horrendous articles under their board shorts or wetsuits. This is a functional choice. They are not for show!
One pair of jeans. These should be comfortable so not too tight, but, gents, not too baggy either. You’re not a ‘90s rapper, like it or not. Tighter jeans actually make you look thinner. Why only one pair? Jeans take up a lot of space.
One pair of pants (the American type, not the British). Again, don’t take your suit trousers. They should be light but with a front seam. They should look good with that shirt you’re taking and go with one your polos. NO DRAWSTRINGS!
As many pairs of underpants as you can fit. Go for a pair for every day plus one. If you’re going for more than four weeks, you’ll have to buy more or (gulp) wash some. You can’t carry 30 pairs of grots around with you. That’s mental!
Three pairs of socks – preferably dark. You might never need them, but socks are great for packing around delicate stuff you bring back and also filling shoes so they don’t get too squashed.
Shoes. If you haven’t already, get used to flip-flops (aka ‘thongs’ in Australia – tee hee! ‘sloppies’ in South Africa, and bizarrely ‘jandels’ in New Zealand). They’re flat, light, easy to get on and off and most importantly, they leave the smallest tan lines.
If, like me, you have enormous feet, you can only really take one or two pairs of shoes with you before your suitcase is chockers. So pack shoes you will wear. I usually take a smart-ish brown pair that look good with jeans or pants – and a pair of casual trainers – but not exercise sneakers. They’re too big and very ugly.
Oh and I usually wear my shoes on the plane, not the trainers. Two reasons: they’re slip-on shoes, so they’re easy to get on and off, and they look better. Better dressed means better chance of an upgrade.
In your wash bag, you’ll need your razor and shaving stuff – I use a brush and soap stick thus avoiding the aerosol problem, deodorant, which I just put in my check-in luggage. (If you’re travelling domestically, as long as your aerosol has a lock or a lid, they’ll let you carry it on board).
Pack one cologne that is good for day and night. Choose something that has strong packaging like Calvin Klein’s ‘Crave’ so it doesn’t leak in your bag. Don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste as well – shops sell tubes under the 100ml limit. Very handy.
Finally, here’s a tip from my mum on how to maximise packing space and reduce creasing: roll – never fold. Once I’ve decided what I’m taking, I roll it all up into small, tight parcels then strategically build my case – just like one o’ them high class lawyers!
What are your best holiday packing tips?