Working out what to pack for holiday is a fine art. Be honest: do you really need two outfits for every day of your trip? Go hand luggage only and read our expert packing tips for a trimmed-down holiday checklist to find out what you absolutely shouldn't take on holiday.
Take two bottles into the shower? Not us. Travel with only the holiday essentials from the bathroom, with all your shampoo, conditioner, face wash, aftersun and the rest decanted into 100ml plastic containers. If you’re flying, leave the big bottles and that pointless extra weight behind and you can even get past the liquids restrictions at security and take just a good size cabin bag on board. And remember – they do sell shampoo in Spain/Greece/Australia too!
2. Holiday reading
We’re not talking War and Peace – even a light and fluffy Katie Fforde paperback will weigh down your suitcase and take up valuable space. You could take just a single book and once you’ve reached ‘Reader, I married him’, swap it with a fellow traveller in the hostel common room. Many hotels and hostels will also have a ‘library’ where guests can take and leave their books. But the obvious answer is to forego your paper pleasures and take an e-reader. Just don’t drop it in the swimming pool.
3. Clothes (you bought at the last minute)
Well of course you need to take at least some clothes, even if you’re off to Cap d’Agde, but be ruthless. Be sure to try on everything you are taking before you leave to make sure it still fits and makes you happy. There is always the possibility that you lost your mind on that mad rush around town purchasing your holiday wardrobe and that on-trend piece of statement jewellery will be an utter waste of space if you realise it doesn’t go with any of your outfits. Go for tried and tested favourites – no one in Corfu will know if it’s the 236th time it’s been worn. We’ve got more packing tips for holidays in our handy space-saving guide.
Even if your hotel room has a safe and 24hr security, there is still plenty of opportunity for the loss of your most treasured possessions. Just because you’re vigilant in shady side streets in downtown Montevideo doesn’t mean you won’t risk misplacing your iPad. Leave objects of economic or sentimental importance in the jewellery drawer at home, or in the company of your other teddy bears. It’s not worth it. Check out our guide to holiday safety before you leave.
5. Your favourite food/drink
It’s hard to get a decent cup of tea in France. So, if you are self-catering on a budget, taking a measured number of teabags is judicious. Seriously though, come on, you’re going on holiday! Immerse yourself in new, unfamiliar cultures. Leave the home comforts of good old Blighty a distant dream. So, no secret stashes of Marmite, Irn Bru or HP sauce. Ditch the Typhoo and dip churros in your chocolate in the Spanish morning sun – you never know, you might find a new favourite. Get into the spirit of adventurous eating, with our look at the world’s tastiest street foods.
6. Hair straighteners
Everyone knows that hair straighteners are as an essential as a liberal application of Maybelline for a night on the town. Not on holiday. Leave those hotplates at home and imagine the freedom when you embrace a policy of bed/beach hair to go with your glowing tan. Think Rachel Zoe. An artfully dishevelled mane is as trendy as flowing flowery dresses in the summertime. Look like you’ve just stepped out of the waves, not the salon.
Most hotels of a certain standard provide towels, so leave yours hanging over a door at home. A real dilemma is beach towels – do you snaffle the hotel’s fluffy white bath towels and get them all sandy? A favourite solution of backpackers is to take a microscopic microfibre travel towel which absorbs amazingly and dries fast. Some come with a clip for attaching to your pack, so it can dry on the move.
Great reference material though it is, your coffee table tome ‘Europe on a Shoestring’ or ‘The Photographic Guide to the Countries of the World’ should stay right there. Get them on your e-reader. Or, if you must have real paper, photocopy the relevant chapters or pages, and throw away each sheet once you’ve used it to lighten your load as you move on. See more backpacking and load-lightening tips here.
9. Proper shirts
There might be an occasion on your holiday where collar and cuffs are required – dining under the stars on a rooftop terrace at a six-star hotel in Dubai perhaps – but its nigh-on impossible to keep your Sunday best in tip-top shape in transit. Stick to tees or casual shirts that can be neatly rolled or folded and wearable straight from the case. If you really must bring a formal outfit, check with the hotel to make sure they have laundry/ironing facilities, otherwise you’ll have got all dressed up for nothing.
…and other restricted items hand luggage such as: quicklime, chutney, oiled paper, weedkiller, magnetrons, sporting bats, party poppers, household cutlery and wet car cell batteries. Just in case you were considering it. Double-check you’re not taking anything ill-advised onto the plane with our guide to what’s allowed in your hand luggage – and what’s definitely not.
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