Ah, the romance of travel…
In my head, I’m always Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Yes, that’s me in crease-free capris and stylish head scarf as I Vespa past the Trevi. With my personal version of Gregory P, obvs.
Reality? I am appallingly over-packed. Dragging an over-stuffed suitcase over cobblestones. Wearing the wrong clothes at the wrong time. Stumbling up to judgmental Hotel Receptionists like an Ab Fab fiasco.
My travel wardrobe is more like my entire wardrobe held together with an industrial-strength travel strap. “But what if it’s unexpectedly hot/cold/dressy/clubby/beachy…?” I ask myself as I squeeze in yet another top/dress/pants/pair of heels. And the irony is I never wear it all.
So, I’m off to Rome in September and if ever there was a time to change a lifetime of heavy lifting and give Audrey a run for her money, this is surely it. I’ve reviewed screen loads of expert advice on how to pack smart, so what follows will make all of us lighter on our feet!
1 Keep It Light. Choose fabrics that pull their weight but don’t weigh anything and are quick to dry. Merino wool, silk, and synthetics are good as they don’t crush easily. Cold? Layer them on and off as you need. A warm oversize scarf/wrap works too or a sleeveless thin padded gilet for chilly aircraft cabins.
2 Go Natural. No one will notice if you wear basic black pants or a beige dress every day if you are teaming it with bright and bold accessories. Lay everything out together on your bed before you go. Then you can discard colours that obviously don’t play well together. Be strong!
3 Style Secret. Taking up a mere sliver of your suitcase, yet delivering maximum impact in the fashion stakes, earrings, necklaces and bangles have to be our secret weapons. Pack jewellery to catch the eye and pull together your look. A pair of pearl earrings will turn that beach look into a classy dinner date in no time.
4 One Piece Wonder. Got a sarong or large format silk scarf? These babies are the key to looking fabulous and packing less. They’ll magically turn into a wrap, scarf, head scarf, halter neck, kimono, skirt, cover up, belt, dress, picnic pouch, rug, and towel. Hell, they can probably mix a mean Martini, too! Pack a couple and get massive mileage. And you will have most of your ‘What ifs?’ covered.
5 A Girl Can Have Too Many… Take only 2 pairs of shoes. What – that’s crazy talk! OK, maybe, but if you can pack a pair of good looking but walkable shoes/sneakers along with a pretty pair of go-anywhere sandals… then you could conceivably get away with 2 pairs of shoes. In theory.
6 What a Carry On. Take a small lightweight carry-on with wheels that you simply cannot overload.The beauty of carry-on luggage is not waiting for the airline to spit out what’s left of your suitcase at the end of a long flight. Also take a big leather tote for your on-plane essentials. A printed crushable plastic tote is also something that quickly becomes a beach bag or artisanal market essential. If you must, a clutch is good for the evening. And light. Yes, we are up to 4 bags here – what’s your point?!
7 Beauty stuff. Take small bottles of your essential hair stuff to get you started. I always want my volume shampoo (turned up to 11), and I take a little of what I like for the first couple of nights and then buy local. And your almost-empty perfume should be chosen over a newbie that weighs a ton.
Finally, should you need any further incentive to pack light, remember any space you save can be used for a 3rd pair of shoes – for which you have my blessing and deepest respect.
So there it is. A quick guide to packing light without sacrificing style. Go forward and be fabulous.