A friend came to visit for the weekend. She stepped off the train the epitome of the stylish traveller with everything she needed for her trip neatly stowed in a nice, normal sized bag.  During her stay she magically produced a variety of lovely outfits and accessories, all from the same sensibly sized bag.  

I went away for the weekend.  I packed a suitcase for one night, a small one but yes, a suitcase.  I took enough clothes to rival the ASOS warehouse,  yet still forgot my PJs and dancing shoes.  Without hope of a space for toiletries, an overflow carrier bag was also required. Lifting said case almost caused severe injury.  

It’s fair to say I find travelling light something of an issue.  

Weekends and short breaks are a dilemma in themselves, but if you’re someone for whom shutting a suitcase means throwing your entire person onto the lid in a bizarre judo move, what do you do when faced with weight-restricted packing for week or fortnight away?

Travel light
But I need ALL of it!

For those who travel heavy, heaving a case onto the weighing scales at the airport check-in desk isn’t the start of holiday excitement, it’s the start of a nerve-wracking game.  A game called baggage allowance roulette.  Where will those flickering red digital numbers stop? Will I have to re pack my stuff in front of an impatient queue of holidaymakers? Will I have to hand over half my spending money on an overweight bag charge?  And if I don’t look the check-in assistant in the eye will I get away with it?   

If your case wins the game and eventually thuds onto the conveyor belt ready to dislocate the spine of a poor baggage handler, you can forget about it for several hours.  Until you arrive at your holiday hotspot and the reclaiming shenanigans commence.

The anxious wait for your overstuffed case to appear on the arrivals carousel has three possible outcomes:

1. The case is a no-show, forcing you to spend the first few days of your trip wearing the dregs of the hotel’s lost property bin.

2. A familiar bra, a recognisable shoe appear one by one, followed by a busted-open case. It would seem the poor zip decided it could take no more.  

3. The case is first to be unloaded from the plane and you happily skip along to enjoy your holiday with all of your worldly possessions in tow.

Outcome number three is obviously preferred but here’s some good news: while there’s always a chance of your precious case going astray, much of the other worry can be eliminated!  

According to those who have the travel and packing malarkey sussed, it IS possible to pack a case in under a week and look near-decent on your travels without being accompanied by your entire wardrobe.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Have A holiday drawer

Save hours running about the house like a woman possessed by keeping travel adapters, passports and other essentials in one place.  

Shop smart

Think in outfits and bring clothes which get on well together. Whether sight-seeing or beach lounging consider what you’ll be doing and fill your case accordingly.  Get some versatile basics in there, colours that work with everything, things that work for day and night.  Throw in some functional accessories in too – one belt and one bag will do, honestly.

Pile then pack

Putting clothes straight in the case is a big no.  Sweep out the sand remnants from your last trip and stack things on the bed first to prevent forgetting what you’ve already packed and taking a vest in every colour under the spectrum.

Roll up!

Folding is for fools!  Rolling clothes equals saved space, no creases and no ironing!  

Bin the books

Of the paper variety anyway.  Losing yourself in a poolside read is a brilliant way to relax, but even if you devour the pages at speed of light there is no need to take the entire stock of the village library.  Think about investing in an e-reader and you’ve got a shelf-full of reading material with no extra weight worries!

Buy stuff there

Here’s a revelation- shops and washing facilities exist in other countries too, so buy and wash things while you’re away.  With this in mind do you really need a bikini per day?

Tone it down!

How about going for a more au naturel look on your hols? I’m not saying slum it but less done-up means there’s no reason to take your bodyweight in toiletries, makeup and hair styling appliances.  Miniatures versions of your favourite cosmetics don’t always represent great value so decant jumbo bottles into small travel ones.  Or again – buy when you get there!

Finally, tie a ribbon, add a snazzy luggage tag or put a sticker on your case for easy identification on the airport conveyor belt.  Or buy a case with a pattern so hideous normal people would generally be ashamed to claim ownership.

So that’s how I’m going to try and travel light and cultivate a chic airport look, what are your top tips?

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