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Are you one of those holiday-makers who packs so many clothes for a trip that you can't carry your own case and come home with half of your clothes unworn? Over 50s blogger and founder of Alternative Ageing, Suzi Grant, a seasoned traveller, shares her packing tips with you so you wear everything and need nothing!
Wear layers on the plane, such as a denim jacket or a windcheater, leggings under a light skirt or dress and your heaviest shoes and socks, and then start stripping off as soon as you land somewhere warmer. Or vice versa if you're going somewhere cooler. Pack natural fibres such as cotton and silk as they will keep you warm or cool.
In some cultures, bare arms, legs and heads are not acceptable. Scarves and pashminas take up absolutely no room at all, so make sure to pack, or wear, your favourite: to sit on, use as a head wrap or to cover your arms. Pack one long summer skirt, or baggy pants, a thin top with sleeves or a dress with long sleeves, to cover you in countries where shorts are frowned upon and to protect you from the sun.
Shoes – the nightmare for any female packer! I wear my favourite slip-on trainers on the plane and they double up as my exercise and walking shoes. One pair of smart heels or wedges and one pair of flip flops or sandals should be all you need, whether you're off for two weeks or two months. You can always buy more locally with all that room in your suitcase.
Forget tight jeans or onesies if you're going somewhere less developed and hot. Jeans are so uncomfortable on a flight, when we inevitably swell up, and onesies are a nightmare if you need a pit stop and your top's falling down on a dirty floor.
I managed five different winter looks for five days in New York City by sticking to monochrome and adding colour with scarves, belts, jewellery & sunglasses. All in a carry on case.
For summer holidays, pick your favourite colours and try to keep them in the same family, such as pink, red and orange. Orange and khaki worked really well for me on one trip and they all looked great together.
You really don't need 14 outfits for 14 days, unless you're going on a cruise. One pair of shorts did me proud for four whole months in Australia, I never wore the second pair. I only took one set of exercise gear, two swimmies, one long skirt, a couple of day dresses, knee-length skirts with tops, a kaftan and one evening outfit. They were all washable. One week's worth of your very favourite outfits can last you for much longer if you plan ahead. And you'll have more room for shopping!
There's always room for a clutch bag, sunglasses, bangles, scarves and colourful jewellery to dress up an outfit and get several different looks out of it. Add a hat, headscarf or colourful cinch belt and you can really get your wardrobe to work for you.
Recently I bought a thin, long-sleeved muslin top that I roll up and wear as a headscarf, so that when I am out in the evening and it gets a bit chilly, I can just take it off my head, and pop it on! Take a large colourful cotton scarf and wear it as a sarong or as a head wrap. Wear a swimsuit or even a pretty vest as a top. Think out of the box and youll pack far less than normal.
Get everything decanted into small plastic containers. I cannot get over the number of people I have been on holiday with who produce 1 litre bottles of shampoo for a short holiday! Especially in this day and age, when you might have carry on luggage and are only allowed 100ml of liquid. You can also buy anything you need, in a small size, either at the airport or at your destination.
Minimum make-up, too, is a no-brainer. One lipstick, pencil eyeliner, waterproof mascara and a little blusher is all you'll probably need, especially if you're off to somewhere humid.
A set of four packing cubes completely changed my life this year. These are essential for your peace of mind if you're travelling from place to place every few days and don't want to unpack all the time or empty the entire suitcase looking for that scarf that's gone missing!
These see-through cubes lie flat in your suitcase and store all your underwear, swimwear, tops and bottoms separately, so all you need do is take them out to see at a glance where everything is.
The rest, such as dresses and skirts, can be rolled up into a sausage shape to minimize creasing and save even more space. And the accessories can be stuffed into shoes and the corners of your case.
For long trips, I always pack a light nylon holdall that lies flat in the case ready for all that shopping I might want to bring home! And I always travel with a small backpack as it leaves my hands free at airports. Once you get to your destination, it can carry your sarong or pashmina, a pac a mac, sunnies, suncream, tissues, camera and water etc. And don't forget the wet wipes - they're brilliant for getting food stains off your clothes, if used immediately!
Have a wonderful holiday.
For more health, fashion and lifestyle advice from Suzi, take a look at her blog, Alternative Ageing.