Let's be honest. It is very difficult to pack light. If you can, then I have massive respect for you. My issue is that there are simply too many nice items I want to take. The shoes? Surely, I will need at least five pairs? Help me out ladies, tell me I am not alone. I visualise that when I arrive (not matter where the summer destination), I will look like the stylish Julia Stiles straight out of the new programme Riviera on Sky Atlantic. It is shot in Cote d'Azur so you get the idea. Effortlessly chic. That's the vibe I am aiming for.
On the evening before the flight, I can always see the stress on my husband's face as he closes the suitcases, lifts them and says, "what on earth have you got in here?". That stare. "What?" I reply, "I'm going to need plenty of clothing options". "No, you don't". he responds. Perhaps he's got a point. I'll put this into context for you. I married a soldier, so not only does he know how to pack, he knows how to pack lightly. Fast forward to the check in desk and we are slightly over our baggage allowance. He looks at me and raises his eyebrows. I look the other way. Fortunately, there was no charge for the slight overage. Phew.
Fast forward a few more days and I am enjoying a lovely stroll around the rustic Spanish shops. There is so much I would love to buy but once again, my husband reminds me that we were are full capacity on the luggage on the outbound journey, we haven't left any space for bringing items back. Damn. He has a point. I try to use as many of my lotions and potions that I can throughout the holiday to free up a few kilos for the return flight. I am not confident this method is working.
After a week in the glorious sunshine it was time to go home. As we arrived at the airport for our flight home, I noticed a family of four in front of us who only had one suitcase. One. Where was the rest of their stuff? I appreciate this was none of my business but I couldn't help but watch in awe as they were travelling so lightly and their children were younger than ours, which often means, even more stuff.
My husband nudged me. He knew I had also clocked the one suitcase. They had a method nailed. I so badly wanted to ask how they did it. They popped their case on the scales. It was 19kg. A 1kg under the allowance. Now I was seriously impressed. I should have run up and given her a hug.
So, this is a turning point for me. We are packing lightly from now on and these are the top four things I have learnt on how to do it.
1. Rolling is the new Folding
Yes. Rolling is the new folding. It's a more efficient use of space and helps items from getting wrinkled. Try it!
Another top tip is to put heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase, meaning the short end where the wheels are--it's easier to roll a bag through long airport hallways when the weight is down there. Flight attendants put shoes and toiletries there. If you are packing a sun hat, I also put all my underwear in the hat to maintain the shape. The shop assistant told me that tip when I bought my panama hat at the Hampton Court Flower Show a few years ago and it was great advice!
2. Wear heavier items for the Flight
I wore my running trainers, a statement necklace and cardigan on the flight out as it made the case lighter. I then packed flip-flops and a thin maxi dress in my hand luggage to change into when we arrived. You will feel a little bit like Joey from friends in the episode when he wore everything he owned, but hey, at least the hold luggage is under 20kg! Winning.
3. Avoid taking heavy lotions in your washbag
I was so tempted to take my entire collection of Keihl's face creams and oils. I love everything about this brand but instead, be strong and buy yourself a £20-£25 wash bag. Something like this one by REN available from John Lewis is ideal. You can buy top ups when you get to your destination (if you need them). I made a small bottle of shampoo last all week!
4. Pack - then unpack
Get your suitcase out the week before and start adding items to it. Then over time, repeat to yourself, I don't need that, or I do need that and you'll soon find that you will be removing clothing you really don't need. But whatever you pack, do bring a quick-drying microfibre towel, a rare example where technology outperforms the classics. Check out the collection from Dock & Bay. We love them.
So, in summary, I still don't have this packing stuff sorted, but every year, I feel like I get a little better at it.
I regret not asking that fellow mother what her trick was on the 19kg for a family of four, but hopefully she might read this and get in touch. I would love it if she said "we didn't pack anything for the kids. We just thought, sod it. We just packed for ourselves". Unlikely.