5 Vacation Packing Tips For People Who Overpack

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6 min read

Summer vacation packing tips

It’s 11pm. I’m sitting at my desk in an empty office xidly writing up a hand-over note for my cover, tele I’m on leave.  A small collection of kaftans, swimsuits, cute dresses and Net A Porter boxes fills the corner of my room. My out-of-office message is on. I fly to Spain tomorrow morning at 5am. My mind drifts off and I imagine myself on a sun lounge, cocktail in hand, surrounded by… Ahhh. I haven’t packed. “Bugger.”
Summer vacation packing tips
Summer vacation packing tips – Elissa wears Paddo to Palmy

I often under-estimate how tricky it is to pack for a sunny escape. I always leave packing to the night before (or morning of) and end up filling my suitcase with a bunch of c*** I never actually wear. This happens so often that I recently made a deal with my husband: any item of clothing which I take but don’t wear on a trip, I will throw out/donate post-holiday. This results in at least three costume changes per day. Not ideal.

So, I’ve started to put a little thought into my packing strategy. On my recent trip to Australia (with a little prep and a few mind games) I managed to whittle my packing list down so  that I only needed carry on. This was my Eureka moment. For the person who doesn’t think twice of lugging 40kg around Europe for two weeks, this was A BIG DEAL.

So, here are a few ways to focus your mind in preparation for the summer holiday packing caper.

Summer vacation packing tips
Summer vacation packing tips – Elissa wears Alice McCall in France

How to pack light for a warm climate – All the summer vacation packing tips you need

Do your research and due diligence: your new packing strategy

Add your destination city to the weather calendar on your phone the week before and monitor. What’s the temp likely to be at your destination? If you’re visiting a tropical climate, check if it is the wet season? You don’t want to be slipping around a Phuket night market in your Ancient Greek Sandals and break  a bone. Or worse, destroy the leather! If there is the potential for rain, pack a good book and a light jumper.

Do a little Insta prep: search for your hotel, hashtag or location on Instagram. What are people wearing? What are the must-do Insta spots and what outfits make for eye-catching Insta shots? Bear this in mind when packing. Everyone loves a good holiday Insta-fest.

Summer vacation packing list
Summer vacation packing tips – Ancient Greek Sandals, a key vacay investment
What are you going to get up to on holiday? How to pack for 2 weeks in a carry on

In the interests of full disclosure: packing for two weeks in a carry on is pushing the envelope a little too far, at least for me. But, what I can offer are ways to ensure you don’t go over your weight limit or pack stuff you won’t need.

Answer me this: do you really need a kaftan to go hiking?

You might have bought a stunning Camilla kaftan and three cute dresses from Paddo to Palmy, but these won’t be much chop if you spend 80% of your time hiking, kayaking or snorkelling. Shorts and a cute racer back camisole, with bathers underneath are the perfect uniform for active holidays. (Iris Lillian’s Founder, Elissa can vouch for this).

Summer vacation packing list for females on tour – get an email chain or WhatsApp Group going

Shoot an email to your partner or create a WhatsApp Group with the friends joining you on holiday. Figure out what activities everyone is up for and then estimate the amount of time you’ll be chilling, doing light activities versus sweat-inducing activities and glamourising by the pool. You should then be able to land on the right mix between what makes you feel like a glamour puss and practical necessity.

Summer vacation packing essentials and bulky items

Allocate bulky items to each member of your tour so you don’t double up and waste precious suitcase real estate. E.g. Sarah brings the hair straightener, you pack the shampoo, Jen is responsible for the conditioner and Jo brings the iPod speaker.

Summer vacation packing list
Summer vacation packing tips – Elissa wears Paddo to Palmy in Thailand
Packing for summer vacation – the visualisation strategy

If you don’t get the chance to liaise with your vacay crew, close your eyes and visualise what you see yourself doing each day. Does it involve laying on the beach or exploring a busy city or both? Will you be going out for expensive dinners or hiking through mosquito infested jungle? Take note of the outfit you are wearing in your mind’s eye. Whatever it is, pack it. Your subconscious knows best.

How to pack for a summer holiday and not forget your undies

One thing I almost always forget, is to pack my undies. Wearing shorts all day without knickers is surprisingly liberating, but being sans-underwear for a whole holiday is a risky proposition. For starters, you’ll be tempted to wear your bathers in their stead. And, unless you want to become familiar with the words ‘yeast’ and ‘bacteria’, best to avoid.

To avoid this condundrum, I now pack my undies first.

Summer vacation packing list
Summer vacation packing tips – Elissa wears Soludos in Portugal
Keep the packing list simple: light clothing, light accessories, light make up

A holiday in a warm climate is not the time to layer up and play with heavy accessories. Keep your packing simple with natural fabrics (cotton, silk and linen) that breathe and help you feel luxuriously relaxed. Pack an SPF50 daily moisturiser instead of liquid foundation and powder.

If you’re used to formal corporate outfits and don’t want your wardrobe to be too casual, keep things interesting with a bright lip colour or eye-catching drop earrings.

Tempting new trends – go with what you know

It’s tempting to stock up on all the new summer trends you’ve been eyeing off during your lunch break. “I can totally pull that off!” You tell yourself in the change room and you promptly purchase that off the shoulder, sheer, mid-riff top with tassels in all three colours. I’ve no doubt you can pull this baby off, but is the best testing ground your vacation? Probs not. More often than not, these items stay firmly at the bottom of my suitcase, because I gravitate towards my tried and tested pieces which suit my shape and flatter in all the right places. Feeling comfortable and confident makes for the best kind of holiday.

Summer vacation packing list
Shorts and racer back camisoles are perfect summer vacation pieces full of adventure – Elissa wears Grana in Thailand
Stop saving your clothes for the dream holiday!

You know that Lisa Marie Fernandez white trimmed linen maxi dress, which you paid too much for and have been saving for a special occasion? The one you look lovingly at every weekend right before you slip into your practical errand-running uniform. This should be the second thing you pack, after your undies. Just imagine how gorgeous you will feel after a long day in the sun, your hair a little salty and sun bleached, as you sip an Aperol Spritz and watch the sun set. You’ll look and feel like a million bucks. So much so, that it could be the only outfit you need. Think about it.

The versatile piece – dress up and down

A white Irish linen shirt or Athena Procopiou kimono will work just as well at the beach or pool as it will at the bar, when paired with slides flats, a slick high bun and tinted lip gloss. Don’t worry about sunscreen getting all over it, that’s why they invented dry-cleaning.

Summer vacation packing list
Summer vacation packing tips – Sydney side
Medical stuff

If you’re visiting a tropical climate you may need to have a few emergency medical items stashed in your luggage, so you’re not frantically searching for a pharmacy at midnight after developing heat stroke. On a recent trip to Thailand, I was going for the money shot and slipped on a particularly sharp volcanic rock. We spent the next hour searching for a first aid kit to stem the blood flow. So, pack plenty of sunscreen and aloe vera gel to soothe sunburnt skin (hopefully you won’t need it), a mini first aid kit, moisturiser, insect repellent and rehydration tablets.

Now, you’re all set. Bon voyage!

Are you good at packing for summer holidays? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.
Summer vacation packing tips
Meet Nicola

With a recent relocation to Canada, Nicola has simplified her life and belongings so she can focus on the important things. Her goal is to inspire others to simplify their lives, pack a suitcase and book a ticket to somewhere they’ve always wanted to visit or live. In short — own less, travel more. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @luggagelifestyle and at Luggage Lifestyle.

Summer vacation packing tips

2 Comments
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