Wednesday, 24 July 2013

How small can you go? The joys of holiday packing

My holiday is all booked and I am off to sunny Cyprus for a week in September.  I am already thinking about what to pack and what to take.  This year I have decided to only take a carry on bag.  I always go away with way too many clothes that I never wear!!  

EasyJet is changing the rules from July 2, making its guaranteed hand luggage bag allowance smaller, by 37 per cent. Bags allowed in the cabin must be 50x40x20cm, including handles and wheels, smaller than the bags allowed on any other airline, even Ryanair (which is 55x40x20cm, with a 10kg limit). At the moment, easyJet's limit is a 56x45x25cm bag. You can still try to bring a bigger bag up to the previous maximum size but on some busy flights it may have to go into the hold. The airline says the change is because its packed planes can't always fit all the luggage on board. Thankfully there's still no weight limit, so there's no need to ditch those flatform sandals just yet.

A good holiday starts with a well-packed suitcase. Rejoice in the fact that it’s the one time it’s not frowned upon to think too much about clothes. Packing light doesn’t have to mean missing out. You’re on holiday, not doing an SAS survival course, so by all means take your hairdryer, although maybe invest in a travel one. As long as you don’t overpack. All too often packing is done in a blaze of optimism that trumps experience. You reach your destination and are not only disappointed but burdened with unnecessary possessions. In general, if you don’t wear it at home, you won’t wear it on holiday and will just think: “Why did I fool myself that colour would suit me? Where is my comfy favourite skirt and why did I bring a painting set?” Going away should be a break from looking at your home wardrobe and feeling pangs of guilt at dresses you’ve never worn.

Avoid being possessed by possessions by piling first, then packing. Put everything you think you need on the bed, then do a ruthless edit. When space is limited it’s good to take items you can mix and match. Denim shorts can be work on the beach and then be dressed up with a blouse in the evening. Think in outfits. There’s no room, literally, for the “I’ll shove it in just in case” attitude. The pile-and-pack method helps with squeezing everything in. Roll towels and tops and use them to fill any gaps. If you can fill shoes with smaller items, it helps use space. Try to take lightweight fabrics. If you’re worried about them wrinkling, put them at the top, with shoes underneath.

A lot rides on what you don’t pack. If you’re going somewhere hot you only need one pair of trousers, so wear them on the plane with your chunkiest shoes, jumper and jacket. Try to pick a jacket with pockets so you can cram them with all the fiddly little extras like a book (or e-reader, which saves on space), phone and passport.

Security restrictions mean you have to buy suncream and any larger liquids in duty free or abroad anyway — you can spend the money saved by not taking a hold bag on a lovely cream. And foreign pharmacies are often fun places — you may even discover a new cult product.

Best of all, small bags mean freedom. While everyone else waits at the baggage carousel to collect their behemoth of a bag and lug it through the streets, you can skip off with your light load, ready to have your holiday.

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