Cheap airfares aren’t always that much of a bargain once you’ve grappled with numerous add-on fees. In addition to credit card surcharges, administration fees and priority boarding costs, the act of simply checking in a piece of luggage can add up to £80 on some routes. If you don’t pre-book your luggage or, god forbid, marginally exceed the allocated weight allowance, these further charges can elicit sit-on-your-suitcase-and-weep situations. Therefore, as well as doing some lengthy cost comparison research (preferably during work hours), smart packing is no longer a skill but a travel necessity. Here are some tips to help you optimise hand-luggage to avoid stowing your bag. It may seem disheartening curtailing your vast holiday wardrobe but you’ll feel liberated skipping off the plane free from a mountainous suitcase.
1. Be realistic, a week’s holiday doesn’t require a month’s worth of clothes (especially if your destination is a hot one) so take essentials along with mix & match-ables. No one can – or should – get through 25 bikinis in a week. Take a travel wash to refresh clothes and swimwear as you go. Dylon Travel Wash, £1.05, from Boots.
2. Towels are normally space-monopolisers so check if your hotel provides beach towels first. If not, choose a lightweight, packable version so you don’t have to wear it as a cape on the plane (although that is an option in the worst case scenario…). This Speedo Deluxe towel was probably designed for savvy gym goers but the compact-design makes it perfect for sunbed-reservation purposes too. Speedo Large Deluxe Towel, £17.50, John Lewis.
3. Embrace versatile accessories by multi-tasking your cosmetics bag. Simply empty out the contents into the bathroom upon arrival and use as a clutch after-dark. COS does lovely leather versions at just the right size. Leather Zip Bag, €39, COS.
4. Keep cosy on the fridge-temperature flight with a modal scarf. The lightweight material is great for wrapping up on cooler evenings, keeping the sun off your shoulders or accessorising an outfit for dinner. Large Lightweight Scarf in mid blue, £39, REISS.
5. Don’t do what I repeatedly do and throw in all available adaptor plugs from the random-items drawer and hope that all your electronic devices will be catered for. Instead cover all bases with a multi adaptor. Not only does it work in over 150 countries it comes complete with a USB port. Prong panic over. World Adaptor Classic USB, £18.14, SKROSS.
6. Ensure the clothes you take can be dressed up or down. Dresses are great all-in-one outfits, are easy to roll n’ pack and can look markedly different by altering accessories. A casual kaftan will look effortlessly chic by the pool or bar. Elizabeth & James Tali silk-crepe kaftan dress, £260, Net-A-Porter.
7. Whatever you do, don’t forget the liquid limits rule and suffer the angst of witnessing your posh face cream being hurled into the confiscation bin at airport security. Keep everything 100ml and under and try not to overfill the clear bag. Again, see what products the hotel can provide and keep everything else mini-sized. Essential Travel Kit, £46, The Organic Pharmacy.
8. Hardly a bulky item anyway, but what could be more fun than folding down your sunnies like a collapsible bike? Great for day trips, the handy design ensures you’ll bother to pop them in their case, avoiding snapped lenses. Men’s Persol Steve McQueen Folding Sunglasses, £240, Mr Porter.
9. Always a packing pain – footwear needs some serious thought as it’s obviously very activity dependent. Don’t, for example, pack promotional jelly-shoes you got free with a magazine if you’re jungle trekking. The trick is to keep to less-chunky, malleable styles such as supple leather sandals, lightweight canvas trainers and bendy flip-flops. Macarena peeptoe leather shoes, £35, Topshop.