“I’m a fashion editor and these are my tips for smart hand luggage packing”

Written by Naomi May

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As we gear up for the final month of summer, it’s time to talk packing. But ditch those who preach about packing light; it’s all about packing smart. 

Packing for a trip away is hardly a fashion lover’s dream. Handheld luggage restrictions and a lack of storage on most forms of transport means organising outfits/make-up/toiletries for a trip away induces more pain than pleasure.

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, airborne activity is back – well, sort of, if you discount the endless delays, cancellations and wait times people have experienced so far this summer – but if you can employ a little patience, holidays in the sun are once again an option.

There is, however, a slight catch. EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air now charge hefty fees – not just for luggage stowed in the hold, but for bags and wheelie cases that need to be stashed in the overhead lockers, which means that now more than ever, packing smart is more essential than ever before.  

It’s all about packing smart, not light

Whether you’re heading on a well-deserved break to the Balearics or a short trip to Italy, this is a quintet of tips that will promise you a headache-free trip of dreams without a Joan Collins-inspired impractical suite of luggage. 

Call us your going-away fairy godmothers, here to serve you with all of the tricks that promise to streamline your suitcase and save on any pesky hidden fees.

Upgrade your luggage  

First things first – which form of luggage are you using? If it’s a raggedy old case that is falling apart at the seams, then you’re in for a rude awakening. The first step of the packing smart holiday guide is finding a piece of luggage that does all of the heavy lifting for you. Look for sleek weekend cases (Away’s are among the best in the luggage game), which have built-in compartments for underwear, socks and laundry, meaning packing and unpacking has never been more organised. 

While we’re the first to profess the virtues of teeny-tiny handbags, there’s only so much you can squeeze into a tote the size of a book, so it also may be time to invest in a more capacious carry-on; one with room for shoes, toiletries and other miscellaneous bits. Don’t forget the stringent new regulations airlines have put in place though, and be sure to check the fine print. The size of your free under seat bag, for example, is 40cm x 25cm x 20cm on Ryanair, but 45cm x 36cm x 20cm on EasyJet. Trying to board with an additional suitcase may incur charges, so ensure that you’ve measured your bags and cases accordingly. 

  • Away The Bigger Carry-On

    Away The Bigger Carry-On

    Don’t forgo upgrading your luggage: Away’s cases have built-in USB ports and hidden compartments within that make for a seriously smart suitcase.

    Shop Away The Bigger Carry-On, £235


  • Oliver Bonas zebra weekend bag

    Oliver Bonas zebra weekend bag

    So long as you’re strategic, a zebra tote is a packing no-brainer. Pack with easy-to-fold silks and all of your essential travel minis.

    Shop Oliver Bonas zebra weekend bag, £49.50


Make an outfit plan 

Instead of just throwing clothes into a case and hoping they’ll work, make a plan in the week leading up to your trip of the outfits you will want to wear on holiday, in accordance with the rough plan of the trip itself. Take a three-day city break, for example: consider what you’ll be doing during the day (most probably walking and exploring, which will require sturdy shoes) and think about what you’ll likely be doing during the evening, and whether that will require an elevated outfit choice. Depending on the trip, of course, a three-day trip should require no more than three outfits, with two different shoe choices for a smarter and more casual occasion.

The key to compiling a holiday capsule is simple: look to multi-tasking wares that can carry an outfit from noon to night with minimal effort. The stars of the style show in this instance are wide-legged trousers, which are perfect for daytime exploring and dinnertime drinks; ribbed tank tops, perfect for pairing with trainers during the day; and micro mules in the evening and oversized cotton shirts (layering is key to nailing a killer capsule). The key here is ensuring that your flight outfit is as bulky as possible, to save on having to pack any XXL items.

  • Kitri Mariana boyfriend shirt

    Kitri Mariana Boyfriend shirt

    Oversized, breezy and oh-so-versatile: what could be better than an XXL shirt, which can be thrown over all manner of outfits?

    Shop Kitri Mariana Boyfriend shirt, £85


  • Sleeping with Jacques velvet trousers

    Sleeping with Jacques velvet trousers

    Buzzy Australian brand Sleeping with Jacques’ slinky velvet wide-leg trousers are the ultimate day-to-dusk pair. For a daytime dawdle, pair with trainers and a simple T-shirt and for a pre-dinner drink, slip into a pair of heels for an elevated ensemble.

    Shop Sleeping with Jacques velvet trousers at FarFetch, £245


Ditch the chunky shoes

To pack smart, the fashion ratio is one pair of shoes and one pair of sandals to every three outfits. When travelling to your destination, wear your trainers (or chunkiest pair of shoes) to cut down on wasting unnecessary space in your case, and ensure that your evening or occasion shoes are taking up as little room as possible. This is the time that teeny-tiny shoes truly come into their own.

Ideally, you’ll choose to eschew vertiginously high heels in favour of a pair of micro mules or malleable ballet flats (great for a final finishing touch for an evening ensemble consisting of trousers). 

  • By Far Cynthia leather mules

    By Far Cynthia leather mules

    By Far ought to be your one-stop-shop for stylish and comfortable micro mules. This tiger-toned pair will slot into a handbag for a trot about a new city, and, when cocktail hour strikes, will provide a pop of pattern to a daytime look. All the style, none of the stress.

    Shop By Far Cynthia leather mules at Printemps.com, £351


  • Cecilie Bahnsen x Hereu Hyacinth ballet flats

    Cecilie Bahnsen x Hereu Hyacinth ballet flats

    As timeless as the ballet flat itself, these easy-to-wear pumps will take you effortlessly from day to dusk with minimal effort.

    Shop Cecilie Bahnsen x Hereu Hyacinth ballet flats at Net-a-Porter, £108


Streamline your skincare

Thanks to a clutch of buzzy beauty brands, skincare and make-up have never been so streamlined and minimal. From micro moisturisers to multi-tasking make-up, your toiletry bag will be at its most small but perfectly formed once you make the switch to these travel-proof alternatives.

Take Bobbi Brown, whose innovative new no-make-up make-up brand Jones Road has already become a household name across the pond and is now busy taking the UK by storm. The make-up artist has crafted a chunky crayon, deftly named the Face Pencil, which actually works to conceal and brighten, and a jojoba and vitamin E-filled Miracle Balm that acts as a moisturiser-cum-highlighter-cum-dewy base. There’s Supergoop!’s travel-sized SPFs, Living Proof’s world-class micro dry shampoos, U Beauty’s mini Super Smart Hydrator (one of the best moisturisers in the game), all of which can be housed in Space NK’s innovative clear and travel-friendly zip-up pouches. Beauty minis are a thing for a reason.

  • Space NK Travel Bag

    Space NK Travel Bag

    Thanks to customer demand, Space NK’s bestselling Travel Bag is now available in a trio of sizes, and a bevy of metallic shades. Once flights are back on the menu again, the transparent casing makes passing through security checks a dream.

    Shop Space NK Travel Bag, from £14


  • Supergoop! Glow Screen SPF30

    Supergoop! Glow Screen SPF 30

    A minimum of SPF30 is an essential everyday, including holidays. But take the headache out of applying it with a mini tube of glow-imparting, radiance-inducing Supergoop!’s Glow Screen, which is not only a seamless SPF but also a wondrous base for make-up.

    Shop Supergoop! Glow Screen SPF 30 at Cult Beauty, £15


  • Jones Road The Face Pencil

    Jones Road The Face Pencil

    The new way to cover up is minimally, thanks to Bobbi Brown’s innovative cruelty-free beauty line, Jones Road. Its Face Pencil, which is available in 25 shades, is a true game-changer in every sense of the word and will negate the need for a foundation, concealer and highlighter.

    Shop Jones Road The Face Pencil, £23


Embrace the do-it-all dress

Dresses are a summertime perennial, this much we know, but those of the throw-on-and-go variety really do make for the ultimate travel plus-one. The style equation for their appeal is simple: with your comfiest and no doubt most orthopaedic-looking shoes, the dress is perfect for daytime exploration, and with your micro heels, the frock is elevated to a more sophisticated realm for when you’re crying out for a cocktail. 

For a three-day trip, one dress will suffice and if you’re conscious of not being able to run it to the dry-cleaners before double-wearing it, look to Steamery Stockholm’s snazzy handheld steamers (which make getting crease-free a whole lot more fun and stylish) and innovative Danish export The Lab Co’s Sports Mist, which uses essential oils to neutralise odours on clothes, leaving them fresher in between washes. Looking good and being practical has never been so simple.

  • Ganni yellow organic cotton knit dress

    Ganni yellow organic cotton knit dress

    The purveyor of all things sartorially simple, Ganni’s dresses are among the most hard-working in the fashion sphere. Simply alternate your footwear and let its fanciful frocks introduce you before you so much as have to say a word.

    Shop Ganni yellow organic cotton knit dress, £275


  • Ghost Palm dress

    Ghost Palm dress

    Slip dresses don’t get better than homegrown brand Ghost’s, but its new season midis are a serious contender for a spot in your staycation capsule. Wear with trainers and a shirt for a day of exploring; once the sun begins to set, slip the shirt off and watch the dress do all of the talking.

    Shop Ghost Palm dress, £89


Images: Getty; courtesy of brands

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