What could be more exciting? You’ve got the girls together months in advance, agreed a date and budget, found the perfect getaway and made the booking. The excitement and anticipation of jetting off to sunnier climes keeps you going through the long winter months. Ideas for outfits swirl around your head and you start shopping for your holiday wardrobe, discarding last season’s bikini for an amazing new one piece swimsuit….or five. If you’ve got a bit over enthusiastic about your holiday outfits, you may find one part of the holiday experience traumatic – the packing. Whether you’re super-organized and have everything ready weeks in advance or pack last-minute in a panic, the task is the same and if you’re trying to take too much then you’ll struggle to keep below the airline’s weight limit. Rather than pay the exorbitant excess baggage fee, you need to plan and pack smart.

Here are our top five tips to help you do just that:

Travel in the right clothing

In order not only to keep the weight down in any checked luggage but also to stay warm during your flight, travel in your warmest, heaviest clothes. These can be worn in the evenings and for the return journey. Also think about packing emergency travel essentials in your carry-on – travel size toiletries (under 100ml to comply with security regulations) and a change of clothes – just in case your checked bag gets delayed or lost in transit.

Think about your suitcase

Invest in a lightweight case, to allow maximum weight for the contents. Ideally choose a case with 4 wheels, as you simply roll the case at your side, making your journey that little bit less strenuous. If you’re travelling to the USA, cases with TSA locks are also ideal. If your case is randomly selected for searching, customs officers will be able to open your case without having to break the lock.

Only take what isn’t supplied

Make sure you don’t buy anything that’s provided at your resort – shampoos, conditioners and shower gels may be complimentary and you’ll also probably be supplied with towels and a hair dryer.

Be ruthless about what you’ll need

Before you begin to think about what to take, double check your free checked bag allowance, as this varies by airline. Then really think about the amount of items you’re taking. How many of us have packed half our wardrobe, only to live in 2-3 outfits whilst on a beach holiday? The weight limit alone might help you decide between three or five pairs of wedges. Once your bag is packed, weigh it using portable luggage scales. If you’re trying to get away with hand luggage only, some hotels will offer a laundry service. Although this can become expensive, it will help keep your packing to an absolute minimum.

Make a list

The most common mistake we make is packing too much of the wrong items – fixating on having eight pairs of shorts – and forgetting essential items such as the toothbrush or insect repellent. In order to remember the essentials and really think about what you will and won’t wear, make a list and stick to it. Here are our recommended basics you shouldn’t leave home without, if you’re headed for a week in the sun.

In your hand luggage:

  • Passport
  • Booking confirmation or boarding pass
  • Currency and bank cards
  • Phone, headphones and travel charger
  • Camera
  • Travel insurance policy and EHIC (if you’re travelling in Europe)
  • Emergency toiletries and clothing
  • Travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs
  • Book or magazine
  • Empty water bottle (to refill after going through security)

In your case:

  • Toiletries and cosmetics
  • Hairdryer (if not supplied) and straighteners
  • A beach bag (which can double up as your carry-on luggage)
  • A small bag for daily use
  • Swimwear and cover up
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat, scarf or bandana
  • Jewellery (leaving anything sentimental at home)
  • T-shirts and camisole tops
  • A sweater or fleece
  • Shorts and skirts
  • One long pair of trousers/jeans (if not wearing on the flight)
  • Dresses for day and evening wear
  • Pashmina for cooler evenings
  • Nightwear
  • Underwear
  • Spanx or your favourite plus size shapewear (if you need a foundation garment for that flirty tea dress)
  • Sandals, trainers and heels
  • Plug adaptors and electrical chargers
  • A money belt
  • Sunscreen, after sun and insect repellent

Hope this list helps you plan the perfect holiday, one where you’ll leave knowing that you’ve packed sensibly, with nothing forgotten but not too much taken.

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