Well, my new suitcase arrived last week, so it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what to put in it. 

Every trip is different, obviously, and they all come with different packing requirements. There are some items, however, that I never fail to take with me, no matter where I’m going, or what time of year it is, and they are…

5 things to pack, no matter where you're going

01. Jeans 

I know some people loathe them, and just can’t imagine how they could possibly ever be comfortable, but a pair of worn-in jeans are probably my number one packing must – I literally don’t travel anywhere without them. (Actually, when I say I pack them, I don’t really: I normally wear them on the plane…) Why? Well, jeans are basically my “just in case” item: if I’m travelling somewhere hot, I might not need them, but I’m a big believer in being prepared – not just for unexpectedly cold weather, but for anything else the trip might throw at me, that I won’t want to wear a bathing suit and shorts for.

I’ve worn my jeans to climb mountains, to go horse-riding and to hike through forests, and while no, they might not be exactly the ideal clothing for any of those situations, they’ll do in a pinch – and it’s not like I’m going to pack jodhpurs and hiking boots, just on the off-chance, is it?

02. A thick sweater

Again, a thick sweater or lightweight jacket is not only essential for the always-freezing aircraft cabin, but I almost always end up wearing one during the trip, too – even when I’m travelling somewhere hot, and in the height of summer. Well, the weather at my destination may be tropical, but the aircon inside restaurants, shops and other public places normally isn’t, so not only do I put a thick sweater in my luggage, I normally take it everywhere I go once I arrive, too.

03. Sneakers 

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m SO not a sneaker girl. I still always pack a pair (or some similarly “sensible” shoes) for every trip, though, because again, you just never know what you’re going to end up doing: and if I can’t do it in stilettos, I’ll be glad I brought those hated sneakers.

04. A swimsuit

This is an obvious one if you’re going on a beach holiday, but even if I’m going somewhere I don’t expect to be swimming, I’ve learned the hard way to always pack a swimsuit anyway: because if I don’t, I can practically guarantee I’ll need one…

05. A small cross-body bag

I always take a large carry-on onto the plane with me, but I don’t always want to haul it around with me at my destination, so I try to remember a smaller, cross-body bag, that’s large enough to hold my daily essentials, not not large enough to make me feel like a pack-mule when I’m out sightseeing or whatever. To save space in my luggage, I stuff the smaller bag with lingerie or other small items, and then add anything vaguely fragile, to stop it getting damaged in transit.

And some things I’m trying to wean myself off packing, meanwhile…

what to pack for every trip

Tons of makeup and toiletries

I have a really bad habit of panicking while I’m packing my makeup etc, and convincing myself I MUST bring EVERYTHING – even stuff I don’t use often at home, let alone while I’m away. Most of this goes totally un-unused: I’m sure I’m not the only one who tends to wear less makeup on holiday anyway, so I’m trying to force myself to pack light this year: we’ll see how that goes.

Workout gear

I ALWAYS bring a couple of sets of workout gear, in the mistaken belief that I’ll be out there every morning, running along the beach, or pounding the pavement. The fact that I end up doing this maybe once on each trip (twice if I’m feeling very motivated), should be enough to convince me to leave this stuff at home, but I always think THIS trip is going to be the one I return from feeling fitter than when I left. It’s not going to happen, is it?

Every pair of shoes I own

OK, maybe not quite EVERY pair: I’m taking a suitcase, after all, not a shipping container. I do have a tendency to over-pack on the shoe front, and as habits, go, it’s proving a hard one to break. Well, can you imagine the horror of discovering you don’t have the right shoes for that dress you want to wear tonight? Exactly. That said, when I travel, I normally end up wearing the same two or three pairs of shoes on rotation, so why I insist on taking all the rest, I will never know. No, literally: I will never know, but I’ll probably keep on doing it anyway, won’t I?

packing for a holiday

What about you? Any items you always pack?

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18 Comments
  1. The one thing I ALWAYS pack, no matter how far away of how close my destination is, is a little plushie. I keep it in a my carry-on and barely ever take it out, but I need that little piece of home with me. Now you could dump me in Japan all alone and I’d have close to zero homesickness, but when I was little I couldn’t stay more than three day away from home without crying and well, old habits die hard

  2. I’ve found the only way round the shoe thing is to plan my outfits meticulously – and now I’m using my trusty Dressed app to do that, so it’s getting easier, but it’s still one of the most time-consuming parts of going away for me!! BUT it does really save on suitcase space if I’ve thought colour combinations through and matched it up to my comfiest, but still cute, shoes… That still only gets me down to about 6 pairs for each trip though, heh…

    1. Yup, this is me – and 6 pairs just seems like not nearly enough! I know I could technically get it down to just 2 or 3, but then I’ll see a pair and think, “ah, but those would look SO MUCH BETTER with that dress!”, and then I just HAVE to take them!

  3. Ahaha I sympathize with always packing too many pairs of sunglasses. I often come back from a trip with more unworn than worn too… not good!

    Lovely post, as always Amber!

    Xoxo,

    Ashley || Sed Bona

  4. I couldn’t agree more about jeans. They’re just so handy to have just in case and even if I only wear them to fly in I feel like it’s not a waste to take them. I’m also a sucker for the workout gear. It always comes with me and it never, ever gets used. The other thing I need to learn to leave behind is the spare phone charger. As if the one I use every single day is really going to give up on me when I just happen to be travelling.

  5. Jeans are absolutely the perfect travel item Jeans are thick enough that they’re pretty good sun protection. For the same reason I always pack a cotton shirt that’s thick enough to keep the sun off but loose enough that it’s cool, and a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. As a bonus, jeans and a thick cotton shirt are excellent layers in the cold too. 🙂

    My skin can start reacting to products at any time, even those I’ve used before. So my entire travel wardrobe is based around emergency sun protection in case I can’t find a SPF that won’t cause an allergic reaction. (I’m a natural redhead too and burn in a second.)

    Does not make for a very glamorous wardrobe though! 😉

  6. Rather than my own packing, it’s Raymond’s packing I interfere with. He likes to take his football shirts with him on holiday, and I hate those tribal jingoistic impressions of clothes in terrible man made fabrics. So I am very kind to him and thoughtfully lay out his clothes every day/evening, which he says is thoughtful. It is only when we get home that he noticed that he never wore them. Anyone else who does this?

  7. Well, I’m totally with you concerning the makeup. I tend to carry so much makeup and beauty stuff with me every holiday and always ending up wearing nearly none of the things. And jeans are a must have in my suitcase or on a plane, too.

  8. For me, I always pack a robe, fold up slippers and silky lounge pants. I like the fold up slippers in my hand luggage on the plane so I can have warm toes but still nip off the loo without putting my shoes back on, and they’re nice for the hotel room too. The robe is good over your pjs and post shower, and the silky lounge pants are nice when your hotel room is a touch chilly and you are just resting before dinner or other guests are joining you in your room for a night cap – you’re not in your pjs, you still look respectable, and you’re comfortable! I didn’t take them last trip and regretted it!

  9. I definitely need to work on leaving shoes behind because I very rarely wear more than one pair. I should also cut down on the cosmetics as well!
    Kyah / http://www.weekendtempo.com

  10. So if you HAD to only pick three pairs of shoes (not counting sneakers and flipflops, they’re too sensible!) for a 2-week long vacation (yes, am fishing for myself here) what would you bring?

  11. I went to a ball in Blackpool the other weekend. Because I didn’t know what to wear I took 5 pairs of shoes when starting one night! If there is one thing I can never stop myself packing it’s more and more shoes!
    I like the idea of going on cruises because of the unlimited baggage allowance! It would make packing so much easier!

  12. Hi Amber, even those i’m a 30 years old woman I still always pack my teddy bear. My husband think I’m crazy but it just something i’ve done since I was very young. xx

  13. Bring as much as the airlines will let you! I always try to pack light, and I always make a mess of it. Once, I forgot to pack comfortable. casual clothes in which I could go exploring (and get sweaty). The next time, I overcompensated and forgot to pack anything “nice” to wear to dinner. So now I’ve resolved myself to never be the sort of person who wears everything in her suitcase. But at least I’ll be prepared!

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