I love holiday packing. I find it oddly therapeutic. A chance to find out what’s hiding inside my closet. The anticipation of soon being somewhere far, far away (or perhaps not - I also love a staycation). The outfit planning...
The luggage (for me, it’s always Nere suitcases in a poppy hue. Their iconic Stori suitcase is my favourite). Inevitably I’ll struggle to close my suitcase, no matter how ruthless I’ve been. I’ll then ask my husband if he’ll take some of my load, because he’s a remarkably light packer. Slowly, items will sneak back in. I’ll justify why they need to come on the trip. That said, I do have a serious talent for fitting a lot in my luggage. In my early 20s, I travelled to Morocco and came back with two rugs, a selection of leather goods as well as all of my clothes. Somehow, everything fitted into my little backpack. When I worked as an editor at VOGUE, I travelled all over the world, honing my packing skills with each trip.
As the years have passed, and my family has expanded, packing has become akin to a military-style operation. It’s hard enough carting tired children through airports – let alone excess luggage. And while I do fill my suitcase to the brim (doesn’t everyone? And if you don’t, please share all your secrets), I keep everything super organised. Correction: I try to keep everything super organised. I also use quality luggage, because now in my 40s, I feel my backpacking days are behind me and broken zips, wheels or flimsy cases just don’t cut it when you’re on the go. See note above about my love of Nere luggage – it’s timeless and durable and will last for years to come.
Here, I’m sharing all of my holiday packing tips…
Packing cubes are essential
This one is probably the most important tip of all. For real. I don’t ever pack a suitcase without packing cubes because if I do, I’ll open my suitcase and within minutes, like confetti, there will be stuff everywhere. I’ll divide the cubes into categories such as dresses, swimwear, separates, underwear. When I get to my destination, it means I can find things easily. I also make sure I pack one for dirty washing. Packing cubes are especially helpful when travelling with kids – you can quickly access their swimmers or clean clothes. For our recent holiday, I went for the Nere Stori 3 Pack Packing Cube in pale pink and khaki (to match the suitcases, because who doesn’t love colour coded luggage?). They come in three different sizes and lots and lots of great colours.
Pack outfits, not items
Your packing challenge is that everything you pack, you need to wear at least once. To achieve this, you need to pack in outfits, not items. I used to throw a mix of random things in a bag and get to the other end only to realise none of it worked together. Or I’d pack jeans for a summer holiday (unless the weather forecast is dire, you’ll never wear them). Think of packing like you’re building a mini capsule wardrobe. You need to make sure your colours all work together, so pick a cohesive colour palette for your holiday. On my recent trip to Italy, I went for blues and white, pinks and brown and one black outfit. I wore the same jewellery every day (a British brand I love called Otiumburg) and made sure I had a few cossies that I feel comfortable in (which given how barely-there a lot of swimwear is, can be rather challenging to locate). I packed a mix of shoes and sunglasses that were pre-styled with various outfits (side note – ideally, you’ll only need one pair of sunglasses, I went a little OTT). It also meant when I arrived, I didn’t have to think about outfit planning – I’d already visually documented what I’d wear each day. I’m happy to report that I wore everything in my luggage!
Colour coordinate your luggage
When I first started working at VOGUE in my 20s, everyone wore black. I arrived loving colour, and then quickly conformed to the unofficial uniform of black. Eventually, I was brave enough to start injected colour and print back into my wardrobe, but black has always been in Vogue. And for good reason – it’s chic and classic. On the flipside, colour is joyful and vibrant and makes you feel good. Fast-forward to my new life, the one where I no longer work for Vogue, have birthed two children, and wear whatever I like, I’m back to my colourful self. Which is why you’ll see that my Nere Stori luggage is a heavenly shade of powdery pink (the official name is ‘Orchid Pink’). It was very easy to spot our luggage (and also easy to spot when it didn’t arrive in London – it arrived two days later). My husband opted for a Stori case in khaki (understandably, he already has to deal with enough pink in our household).
Love your luggage
You need to love your luggage, otherwise it’ll just annoy you. The Nere Stori design is timeless and you can pick from the most heavenly colours from orchid pink to lime to more muted and classic hues such as glacier (navy) or black. This coupled with the range being super durable means Nere luggage will be travelling with you for years to come. The Stori design comes in three sizes – carry-on (55cm), check-in medium (65cm) and check-in large (75cm). The largest size was perfect for a 2-3 week adventure. The suitcase expands so you can make it larger when you’re heading home, and there’s also a combination lock to keep everything safe. Inside there’s plenty of compartments to keep your belongings organised. I also used packing cubes (see note above).
When you don’t roll, your clothes are likely to get super crinkly in a suitcase. And if you’re headed to warmer climes, linen is likely to be in your luggage. I only packed linen, but I rolled it which always helps, and hung up the items when I arrived. The creases (mostly) dropped out of the dresses. Again, roll, roll, roll. It really works. Plus, it saves space.
Use a roller bag for your carry-on
I’ve spent many trips lugging around carry-on and finally used a roller bag for this trip. It was game-changing (I realise most people know this, and I’m late to the party). It also doubled as a seat for the girls when they got tired. I matched my carry-on to my main luggage – the Stori 55cm suitcase in pink. I also used this suitcase as the girl’s luggage – they had one each and it was large enough to fit everything they needed for a two-week summer trip.
Cull your shoes
I know you want to take them all, I really do. But don’t. Shoes take up the most about of space and you really only need three pairs maximum (plus sneakers or boots which I always wear on the plane as they’re so bulky). For a summer holiday, I’ll do two pairs of sandals plus a pair of sneakers. For winter, it’s a pair of sneakers, boots and a heel of some sort.