How To Pack Light

Espadrilles: Dune (old). Mini perfumes: Miller Harris. Scarf/towel: £25, Atterley. Washbags: Anya Hindmarch and Accessorize. Bikini: $89, Triangl. Sunglasses: £260, Jimmy Choo. Leather bag: £250, Sophie Hulme

From one extreme to the other…it may be autumn outside and we’re trying on our winter coats. But we’re still thinking about sunny winter getaways. I am currently in Spain, basking in the last of the hot days…but also planning a trip to Italy next month.

Blogging and holidays don’t often go hand in hand. Mainly because you end up working on them (the light is just too nice to ignore!) and you get excited at that last chance to wear your favourite holiday clothes on Instagram.

But I’m still a good packer. And this boils down to my years of experience – travelling for 8 years with hand luggage allowance on work trips – having to pack at sometimes 12 hours notice to get on a flight. Plus I’d always rather spend money on a meal than my luggage allowance. The key is in the minis, the light-weight items and the confidence in the pieces I pack. Here are a few rules I stick to.

1. Pick your bikinis wisely, and stand by your choice. You don’t need 7 swimsuits for 7 days. 3 maximum. Just make sure they’re your favourites.

2. Think about what they will have at the destination. Shampoo and conditioner? Beach towels? Possibly….hotels NEVER have toothpaste, a mistake I have made all too many times. Always take.

3. If you need to take a towel, invest in a hammam version. Lightweight and super chic – it’s all you need at the beach. You can buy 2 for £50 at Net A Porter (maybe split with a friend), or you can buy singularly on Amazon.

4. You only really need to take one bag and shoes for the evening. In the day you will just wear Birkies/flip flops. Think realistically – take one pair of chic black sandals maybe 2 for a week long trip – maybe some espadrilles (but you can travel in these). Trust me, you’ll survive.

5. Have a stand-by box of travel toiletries. If I didn’t have this, I would forget half my suitcase. In the box under my bed is basically a load of miniatures, suncreams, deodorant, toothbrush, spare chargers, comb – often things that I use in my house up until I need to leave. It means I can pack whole heartedly the night before without leaving myself post-it notes across the house the morning of.


6. Swear by minis. Especially if going hand luggage only. It just means you can take more stuff, right? A mini bottle of suncream will last a weekend if you’re doing a citybreak, so will a mini moisturiser. I still like to take my ‘expensive’ creams though. But with products like Clinique, Darphin etc I can only really afford the small bottles anyway – so everyone’s a winner (!).
Brands like Elemis do special travel products, too. And Miller Harris do 8 mini sprays for £24 – something I would ask for as a christmas treat. The Boots ‘minis’ aisle also makes me really, really happy – Mark Hill sea salt spray, Colgate – all you need. Liz Earle are currently offering 3 minis when you order over £50 – I still use the mini bottles of toner and refill from my big bottles. Obviously Muji is our friend here, their spray bottles and mini jars are essential.
The one full size product I take is deodorant – because you don’t want to run out of that….
7. A chic washbag makes everything better. When you’re travelling Ryanair and they sift through your luggage, at least it all looks like you’re travelling first class…it’s like wearing nice underwear in case you get hit by a bus. I have a really old Anya Hindmarch one from my first magazine job (back when the washbags were suede lined – not great for liquid product but hey, it feels nice). But equally, I love my Accesorize gold zip wallet just a much.

And in my carry-on?

1. My H&M hat – because it would just get battered in my case.

2. Smythson travel wallet. This was my leaving gift at Red and I LOVE it so much. It has 4 different compartments, all colour-coded – so we have 1 for my passport, one for my husband’s, one for money and one for tickets/receipts.

3. I always carry a mini zip wallet, for my cards, or work receipts. I have to make some attempt at keeping work/life separate!

4. A good camera. I’m trying not to take iPhone snaps anymore, mainly because I don’t have any memory, but also because I notice such a difference when taking photos through this Olympus.

5. Cashmere socks – even if only short haul. I wear them on the plane, but also slip them on when asked to take my shoes off during security (I hate the idea of stepping where everyone else’s feet have been!).

6. iPad and case – I always download some BBC4 documentaries for the flight. And this is a regular zip wallet from Gap that I use as the case, which means I can always find it easily.

7. I found these Frends headphones in TK Maxx for £50 – what a bargain (they have loads of good branded ones here). Not only do they look cool, but they make you feel like you’re listening to surround sound on any plane. Plus they block the noise of kids/crying/irritating passengers.

8. On a long haul flight, it’s always a good idea to keep up with a little beauty regime. I’ve worked with too many make-up artists not stand by this. And these Eyeko Hydrogel eye patches are what Alexa uses on a flight – leave them on for 10 minutes and rub in the residue, no need to wash off. Softens the skin under the eyes and leaves you looking more fresh and awake.

9. Prescription sunglasses, to slip on as soon as my feet hit terra firma.

10. Use a travel bag that can double up as your beach bag. I’m using Accessorize’s new Heritage collection bag.

11. A good book. Yes, I suppose a Kindle is good for packing light but I love the memory that a book with sand in the spine leaves with me.

12. Planes can really dry out your skin, I let some rose oil absorb into my skin as soon as I take off. And a lip balm comes everywhere with me – currently loving Lanolips.

It’s also worth noting, I often travel in a cashmere hoodie – M&S or Hush do great ones. As this time of year, it’s good to have a warm cover-up plus it makes you feel that little bit special on that budget airline…


  1. So so many good tips here Alex, I am the one leaving post it notes everywhere of things I need to remember (particularly toiletries!) love the idea of a basket of mini toiletries and the Eyeko eye patches – in fact I am going to buy some to use on my eyes at home as I look 150! Really really useful post, thanks xxxx

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