Houston, we have a problem.

Other than the “It’s the first week in December and I already spent my entire salary on shoes and clothes” problem, I mean.  A DIFFERENT problem.

So, we’re flying out to the Canary Islands on Sunday. HAVE I MENTIONED THIS ENOUGH YET? And our baggage allowance is 15 kilos each. Fifteen. Kilos. Each. Which, really, is nothing, is it? When we fly to America we upgrade to 25 kilos, and that’s just to accommodate my Sephora stuff, you know?

Now, going to Spain is obviously different, because we don’t tend to buy much there. Well, other than all that stuff I bought in Zara last time we were in the Canaries, obviously. There was that. But this time I have imposed a strict budget upon myself. “Amber,” I have said, “you are on a strict budget. Deal with it.” So there will be no Zara. There will be no duty free. There will just be me and my fifteen kilos worth of luggage and OMG how am I supposed to only take fifteen kilos worth of luggage?

From this you can probably guess that I do not travel light. Oh, hell to the no. I am, in fact, what some people (“Some people” = “Terry”) would describe as “high maintenance”. Here are my problems with packing, in no particular order:

1. Shoes.

Well, obviously I want to take them all, don’t I? Look, I edit a shoe blog for a living, it’s part of my job description to have a lot of shoes, OK? (Note: that IS true, Gemma, isn’t it?) But clearly this is out of the question. So what to do? Well, we know we’re going to probably be doing a bit of exploring-on-foot, and we’re also going to be climbing Mount Teide (the highest peak in Spain, fact fans). I’ve actually been up Mount Teide before, as a surly teenager, and naturally I wore unsuitable shoes for the event. And naturally, that’s not something I’m going to be doing again anytime soon, so some kind of “sensible” shoes are clearly in order.

(Note: this is just plain annoying. I mean, valuable space/weight will be taken up by shoes that will be worn only ONCE on this trip.  Shoes that will not even make me feel happy, either. This is sheer wastefulness. But if I DON’T take them, I will probably fall and break my neck, and then the whole “Woe is me, for I have to take ugly shoes on holiday with me!” issue will seem pretty silly and I’ll want to slap myself. So, ugly shoes it is.)

So that’s one pair in the bag, so to speak. I will also be taking my flip flops, because I tend to live in them on holiday. But I will need shoes for evening, and here’s the thing: some of my outfits need particular pairs of shoes to go with them, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine anything worse than realising that the perfect pair of shoes for your outfit are 2,000 miles away, in your wardrobe at home, can you?*

2. Books

I read a lot. A LOT. And I’m horrendously fussy about what I read (although sometimes you wouldn’t think it) so a lot of my pre-holiday budget is spent on books. I also read fast, so I’ll get through one book on the way there and one book on the way back. The main purpose of this holiday is to give us a chance to relax and be warm, too, so we’ll be spending a lot of time just lazing around, and I can’t laze around without a book in my hand. It is physically impossible. My experience of Spanish holiday resorts is that there’s not generally a great choice of books for English speakers to be found in them, so I take a lot of books with me. And there goes more of my precious 15 kilos…

3. Electronics

Well, I have that whole “have to take the iron everywhere” problem going on, don’t I? And while I do have a travel iron for just these occasions (It only works in parts of Europe that aren’t the UK, or I’d have taken it with me to the christening we went to this summer, rather than taking the ACTUAL iron…), I still have to fit in my hairdryer and a kazillion chargers, power-adaptors, etc. Crap. (No, there will not be an iron in the place we’re going to. It’s THAT kind of basic, unfortunately…)

4. Toiletries

On any given day, there’s more makeup on my face than there is on the MAC counter. I actually manage to edit this down to just a few items for travel, but then there’s contact lens cleaner, eye makeup remover, sunscreen, shampoo, etc. And OK, I concede that they DO sell this stuff in Spain. Of course they do. But I have my favourite brands, you know? And I also like to get to where I’m going and be able to have a shower IMMEDIATELY and then relax (and IRON, obviously), rather than getting to where I’m going and then having to instantly go out and buy shampoo, which is probably what I’m going to end up doing. (The place we’re staying is REALLY basic, so they won’t have those little complimentary shampoos etc.) I’ve tried to “solve” this issue by buying little miniature containers for some stuff, but GOD, there’s still a lot of it.

Oh, yeah, and then there’s my CLOTHES. Almost forgot them.


Learn how to pack a capsule wardrobe. Track down that elusive pair of shoes that is suitable for every occasion in life, even climbing mountains. Accept that I will just have to buy toiletries when I get there and then leave them behind, and that no, they will not be my “special” brands. Learn to live without the tyranny of the hairdryer and the iron. Slap self. Stop being such a little princess all the time. Slap self again. Twice.


Bought tremendously large shoulder bag to act as carry-on. (Yes, it meets airline regulations.) Wrote this post on my blawg.


Stuffing tremendously large carry-on full of stuff that will not fit in the suitcase. Wearing at least four layers of clothes to travel in. Sneaking iron and hairdryer into Terry’s case when he’s not looking. Panicking.

Seriously, though: 15 kilos. That’s just cruel….

* Being facetious here, just in case you didn’t realise and want to rip me a new one. Because yes, OF COURSE there are worse things in the world than being without the right shoes. But not many things, it has to be said…

  1. Yes, the giant carry-on is the KEY. I learned this when we were in Ireland last, where I had to meet Dave's entire family on various occasions (read: many outfits required), go to a wedding (more outfits plus shoes) and do lots of walking (more clothes and appropriate shoes). Also: rolling your clothes rather than folding makes it easier to scrunch them all in.

    <abbr>Amanda Nicole´s last blog post..too much to ask?</abbr>

    1. The carry on is proving invaluable – both it and the case are now at full capacity and that's after some sever "editing"! Looks like I'm definitely not shopping while I'm away!

  2. I don't have your problem. I pack, usually, 1-2 pairs of shoes. I make sure that everything I pack goes with one pair of shoes (black usually.)

    It's vacation. No stressing allowed!

    <abbr>Kristabella´s last blog post..At My Old Job</abbr>

    1. Wow, but there is such a thing as going too far in that direction. My other half took one pair of shoes for a 6 week holiday to the UK. In the he had to buy a second pair, as his feet were beginning to rot off by about week 4.

      <abbr>Louise´s last blog post..The party!</abbr>

    2. I can only dream of being a "one pair of shoes" person, unfortunately! I guess writing about them so much makes me feel like I actually *need* them!

  3. It's rough for us high-maintenance women. Especially if you're the type who likes to wake up and THEN decide what to wear (Planning outfits in advance? What's that?) At least you're packing to go somewhere warm. I will be packing to go someplace very cold (Minnesota). Cold weather clothes are so heavy and bulky. I'm envious of your warm beach holiday!

    1. Oh, I know, I just can't do the whole "planning in advance" thing! I really need to create one of those capsule wardrobes I always read about, but I somehow don't see it happening!

      It's definitely easier to pack for warmer places, though. If I had to add coats and boots into the mix, I think I'd go insane! (Although because I'm paranoid about being cold, I always have to bring as many warm things as I possibly can. I need a whole FLEET of luggage, not just a simple suitcase…)

  4. Hey Amber

    Hope you have a great holiday – I am so jealous!

    I normally take a huge carry-on bag as well as normally sneaking an extra few things into my case. Does Terry normally use all his baggage allowance? You could always "borrow" some of his allowance as long as you guys check in together and put the heavy bag on the scales first.

    Have fun


    1. Don't worry Mhairi I have already allocated 5kgs of my case to Amber 🙂 I intend to wear only tight Lycra for the whole holiday, thus keeping my case weight down 😛

  5. I've never travelled, but I remember the absolute hell that revolved around my sister packing for a 5 month study trip to Japan. My mother stood over her bags, screaming like a drill sergeant 'You don't need *that*!' etc, etc.

    I sympathise! I always take too much stuff everywhere, even just in my satchel for university. Well, I need at least one book for the train, and another book in case I get tired of the first book… and so it begins!

    1. Oh God, I can't even imagine having to pack for FIVE MONTHS! And the stuff I'd bring back with me! Doesn't bear thinking about. I fear I am probably destined never to be a world traveller…

    1. Ha, I don't even own such a thing as mountain boots, I'm afraid! When I say "climbing" I mean "they take you up it in a cable car, then there's a gentle path to the top, if you want to take it". It's for tourists, there's no serious climbing involved, thankfully!

  6. As a fashion buyer I travel ALOT and have had to learn to pack the essential travel wardrobe. Can I suggest the following FAILSAFE shoes:

    1 – Gold or silver Jandals. Comfortable enough to wear every day but look much more dressy than your everyday Haviana's

    2 – Gold or silver strappy heels for evening, let's face it, metallics go with almost everything so should match all your evening outfits.

    3 – Ballet flat with some sort of embellishment, I have these Miu Miu ones in pale gold with crystals, so comfy but again the crystals make them dressy so can be worn in the evening if heels aren't appropriate.

    4 – I always take some sort of old shoes, be it havian's or ballet flats, just in case you need to do something that might ruin your nice shoes.

    Plus, my other personal tip is to buy a small tote bag in either gold or silver, can be used as a day or evening bag and matches your shoes!

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