Forget oversize luggage—pack smart with our space-saving tips for your next vacation.
You’ve been there before: You squeeze four pairs of shoes, nine bottoms and nearly every top in your wardrobe into a suitcase. Then, during your week-long beach vacation, you end up wearing only a third of what you packed. And, of course, there’s your beauty arsenal of toners, lotions and special shampoo. Needless to say, after all that heavy packing, lugging around a massive suitcase through the sand isn’t all that relaxing.
So we turned to Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton, cofounders of WHOA Travel, a boutique travel firm that plans adventures for women (think hiking Kilimanjaro or kayaking in Costa Rica). Read on for their top tips on packing lightly and smartly for your next beach holiday.
Beauty picks: Only the essentials
To pack your beauty must-haves, head to your local drugstore and purchase a traveller’s set of mini squeeze bottles for transporting moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner and cleanser. It’s a much more compact alternative to packing full-size products.
Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and an after-sun treatment. “If your skin is sensitive and you don’t know how it’s going to react to a new sunscreen, bring your own,” says Fleece. “And finding aloe vera is not always the easiest thing.” Another beauty essential for travel is baby powder. It’s perfect for degreasing hair and removing sand that’s stuck to your body. Just sprinkle the baby powder onto your legs and feet, and the sand will come right off.
Pack, then edit
When it comes to clothing and shoes, stick to multipurpose items and eliminate duplicates. You’ll never need two pairs of bright-colour shorts or two wrap dresses. Thornton recommends having a pair of flat sandals that swing two ways: comfortable enough for walking around town and dressy enough for dinner and dancing. Once you make your selections, always reconsider each item that you’ve packed. “I pack everything I think I need, leave it for a few hours, then come back to it, and suddenly I realize what I don’t need,” says Thornton.
Keeping the contents of your luggage organized will help you quickly find what you need. Resealable produce or freezer bags are your best bet for keeping smaller items, such as socks, underwear and bathing suits, at the ready; your clothes are easier to find when they’re kept together, and see-through plastic will allow you to identify them quickly. Or you can invest in a mesh garment bag, Thornton and Fleece’s must-have travel essential. “You can stuff them with scarves, T-shirts and other clothing. And pushing all of the air out saves a lot of space,” explains Thornton. If you decide to bring a few small accessories with you, empty painkiller bottles are a great place to store rings and earrings. Meanwhile, dainty bracelets and necklaces can be slipped into straws and taped at each end to prevent them from knotting.
Keep electronics to a minimum
All-in-one entertainment is another way you can keep your luggage light. Instead of packing books, download them onto your tablet. “It’s all about knowing what I’m going to need,” says Thornton. “I leave my laptop at home and get everything I need on my phone.”
Pick a souvenir you’ll wear while you’re there
Leave a little space in your luggage for souvenirs you pick up upon arrival, and opt to purchase goods that you can wear or use during the course of your trip. Fleece’s go-to souvenir is the sarong. “You can use it to lie on the beach, to wear as a wrap when you grab a cocktail from inside the hotel and in evening when the sun goes down,” she says.
Other souvenirs to consider buying when you arrive at your destination: a wide-brimmed hat, a bathing suit and jewellery. “People always comment on the stuff we buy on vacation,” says Fleece, who has a collection of accessories from the beaches of Rio and the Bahamas.
Sample packing list
Here’s our list of beach-vacation essentials (not including the obvious toiletries, underwear, cellphone and pajamas). Use it as a guide when packing for your next exotic getaway.
-One cotton T-shirt
-Two sleeveless tops (one casual, one dressy)
-One pair of trousers
-One pair of shorts
-One maxi skirt
-Two breezy dresses
-One long-sleeved shirt or blouse
-One cardigan or sweater (for cooler evenings)
-Two bathing suits
-One pair of flip-flops or pool shoes
-One pair of day-to-night sandals
-One pair of hiking boots, water shoes or sneakers, depending on what adventures your vacation entails
-One pair of sunglasses
-One beach bag
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