What to Take on a Summer Holiday (When You Only Have Hand Luggage!)
I used to be an awful packer. It would take me ages to decide what to pack in my bag, I would pack too much, I would forget my favourite items and realise I'd only packed things that I didn't really want to wear. Having only hand luggage can be really difficult as you are so limited with how much space you have to fill. When I look back on holiday photos I question my outfit choices and I finally think I've realised where I went wrong all those years ago. This year I've decided to be organised. I had actually packed my suitcase a week before my trip and have thought long and hard about what the perfect items are to make me happy when I'm away. Here are my top tips on how to pack the perfect summer holiday bag.
Keep It Simple
I used to stuff as many items that I deemed "cool" and "exciting" in my bag for a trip and I've realised that this is actually a fundamental error on my part. Packing everyday essentials and simple items is actually the way forward as not only can you mix and match them when you're away but you can layer them too. Imagine your bag is a micro-wardrobe. You want to be able to pull out two items and for them both to go together. I pack a couple of pairs of denim shorts in different colours (black and blue) and a variety of simple vests too. I love Dr. Denim for shorts and ASOS always have a nice variety of vests including good priced linen ones. For a beach holiday I know I'm going to pretty much live in my bikini so anything that is easy to put on over the top is great.
This year I have been inspired by one of my favourite films, Call Me By Your Name, when it comes to summer fashion. Everyone in the film looks so effortlessly cool and the vintage 80s style of Raybans, oversized linen shirts and Converse really appeals to me. You can't really beat a classic pair of vintage Levi shorts and a pair of Raybans. Oversized shirts are great too to throw on open over swimwear, and I always seem to burn my shoulders so a shirt is a good way to protect them. My favourite white shirt used to be my Grandma's so I recommend heading down to your local charity shop and seeing what you can find.
Making sure you have comfy footwear is a must as you will be wearing them for the whole time. Again, ones that go with everything and can be worn day and night are best. Birkenstock sandals are great for slipping on and off on the beach and high top Converse are perfect for exploring a town or walking along the sea front. The canvas material means they are cool enough to wear too.
Finally, the bikinis themselves. I like to mix and match and so keep colours and patterns as plain as possible. I like the classy look of plain white or black with a hint of colour or a stripe here and there. I also like to switch between shapes from strapless to triangle for optimum tan line! I would avoid anything with cut outs as these will lead to a strange tan line even if they look cool. Wolf & Whistle do a nice collection and they cater for fuller busts, All Saints have pretty ones too.
Take Some Favourites
It's nice to have a couple of special items which can be worn in the evening or if you decide to do something special. An evening dress or a dressier top are ideal. I bought this beautiful semi-sheer top from ASOS (I love this one too) which is just perfect. The shape is beautifully feminine and the flowing material is cool enough for summer nights. I'm a sucker for embroidery and the embroidered flowers on this are really beautiful.
Another classic piece is this lovely jumpsuit by Topshop. It's a linen blend making it cool to wear and I just love the zip detail. Dress it up or down, it's perfect for just about any occasion. Avoid anything that will crease too easily because it will look awful after a journey and if it can be an item that can also be worn in the day then you'll be saving even more space which is great.
Don't Forget The Entertainment
As a child I never enjoyed reading. I would much prefer to put on a film or listen to some music than read a book. I very rarely packed a book for holiday and if I did it would be a poorly written chic-lit or a Harry Potter which I'd read ten times previously. This has changed in recent years and this year was the first time I was actually excited about picking some holiday reads. Knowing what to pick and where to start looking was difficult but I suggest getting recommendations off friends, reading blurbs in book shops or picking something by an author you already like. Take a couple, don't underestimate how quickly you will be able to get through a book when sitting on the beach, you have all the journey time to read too.
My first pick was Enigma Variations by André Aciman. Author of my favourite book this year, Call Me by Your Name, which is a perfect holiday read as it is a beautiful romance set against the Italian countryside in summer. This was an easy choice as I'd already read Call Me By Your Name and loved it. I love Aciman's writing style so it was top of my list to read next.
Next up, The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells. Not the happiest title for a holiday read, I know, but an international best seller. I liked the cover when I was scouting in a bookshop, read the first page and was instantly hooked. I know the saying "never judge a book by it's cover" but if you're stuck for a choice I recommend that you actually do before reading the first page to feel the vibe. I've already started reading it and it has not disappointed me. I'm really enjoying it so far and the writing style is to the point but effortlessly beautiful.
Finally, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I can't say I know much about this book and only skim read the back. This was my mother's recommendation and as she runs a book festival I couldn't really argue! She says it will make me cry (not great for a holiday), but is so beautifully written that it will make up for it. I have since gotten more recommendation to read it so I'm sure it will be good.
I got all of these books out from my local library and honestly, it is the best thing. I saved so much money and time by not ordering them and I could check online to see if they were available. A few of these books only came out this year and one wasn't even on the library shelf yet, it still had the new book smell. All I can say is join the library!
Think Realistically About What You Will Want To Put On Your Face
I could happily take no make-up on holiday with me. To be honest, I could probably go through life wearing no make-up at all. However, if you're going to take some on holiday with you I suggest taking only the essential items you know you are definitely going to wear. After all, when you only have hand luggage, you can only take a tiny plastic bag full of 100 ml products and chances are, you won't wear much of it! If I do pack anything, I pack things that aren't going to melt and nothing that will clog my sun-kissed skin. A holiday is a chance to let the skin breathe and rejuvenate.
I hate taking thick foundation or anything that is too tinted. As I tan quickly my regular make-up no longer matches my shade. A BB cream, like this one by Garnier, is a great alternative as it has a small tint to even skin tone and is moisturising with SPF. I would focus on taking things for the eyes and lips instead and always pack a nice nude lipstick like this one by MAC for a natural day look and a red one for evenings too, this one is by Bobbi Brown. A good waterproof mascara is a must for swimming and this one by B. is great plus it's vegan and cruelty free.
Alternatively, a set like this one by Clinique is perfect for all your travelling needs. It includes a mascara, lipsticks, powder, blush and eyeshadows and it's compact size means it's easy to carry. It even has a mirror included too. I bought mine at the airport in duty free so you could always pick one up on the way to your destination!
A final note. Holiday's are meant to be a fun and relaxing time so why not make your packing part of it too. At the end of the day, what's the worst that can happen? You forget something you really like. Chances are it isn't going to ruin your holiday. If you run out of space, take a step back and think about what you really need or want with you which is probably not a lot at all.