The complete holiday packing advice guide

If your holiday packing style consists of bulging baggage or last-minute changes you could use some advice on using your space more effectively and squeeze more in without incurring extra baggage charges at the airport.

First, work out what you’re going to take

This is perhaps one of the hardest parts, well I find it hard anyway. The temptation is just to throw everything in, “in case you use/wear it” but making decisions on what to take can have paramount importance on not only the weight of your luggage but also on the enjoyment of your holiday once there.

Think about what type of holiday you’re going on. If you’re going on a cruise for example, some cruise lines have a formal evening such as a ‘Captain’s Dinner’ where you’ll need a suit or nice dress. If you’re spending two weeks on a beach holiday, are you really likely to wear those 4-inch platforms that you love? 

Be decisive and try to plan out outfits for each day, including underwear, you’ll find it reduces the amount you take. Most people always overpack and end up with items they don’t wear that they have packed so don’t lose valuable space by doing so. Making a ‘packing list’ beforehand of all the things you think you’ll need will help you to ensure you don’t overpack. Items such as floaty kaftans are a godsend as they provide cover during the day around the pool/on the beach and take up little room in your suitcase.

Minimise your Toiletries

Toiletries and beauty items can take up so much unnecessary room just because of packaging. Decant your shampoo/conditioner into smaller bottles (you can buy a set of them in Boots) therefore minimising the amount of space they take up. If you choose see through bottles of 100ml and under you can even place them in your hand luggage if you’re tight on room in your suitcase.

Divide between Suitcases

If you have heavier items you need to take e.g. straighteners, hairdryers, shoes, travel iron – then divide them between the suitcases if travelling with others so that the weight is spread out between them – this makes them easier to carry and avoids extra baggage charges. 

Before taking items such as a hairdryer it’s also worth a call ahead to your travel agent or hotel just to check if they already have them in the rooms. It is a good idea to divide items up like this just in case your luggage goes missing, you may think it’ll never happen to you but unfortunately it sometimes does!

Then Pack!

Rather than just throwing everything into your suitcase, you can get more in and avoid crumpled clothing by packing in an orderly manner. 

Place the heavier items in first, such as shoes, then put everything else in by outfit order. Put the first day’s clothes in last so they are at the top plus perhaps a swimsuit and sun cream (just in case your room isn’t ready when you arrive?). 

Remember to put your sun cream in plastic bags just in case the suitcase gets thrown around and some of them leak. Some light tops and vest tops that don’t need ironing can be rolled up rather than left flat and fitted into small spaces or inside of shoes to help save space. If you don’t want to be ironing whilst on holiday then definitely don’t take anything linen or anything likely to need ironing!

Lastly, Don’t Forget…


1) Passport/ Visas /Driving licence – Essential if you want to travel to any destination outside of the UK! Visas may be required depending on where you are travelling to and how long for – check with your travel agent before leaving. A driving licence will be needed if you intend to hire a car but is also another useful form of identification. Make sure you scan a copy of your passport and driving licence and send it to your email or print the copies out, take a copy with you and also leave a copy at home.

2) Flight/Holiday tickets and details of the hotel – You will need these to check in at the airport and hotel. Most package holidays will send you a booklet and travel wallet in which to keep your travel tickets. Most companies now allow you to check in online, but make sure you still have the booking reference number with you in case needed. Make a copy of these documents and then leave with a relative at home also.

3) Travel Insurance – If you travel often, the cheapest insurance can be an annual travel insurance. You can buy these from many places, your travel agent, online or even from your Bank. Just make sure before you go that if you plan on doing any sports or anything particularly dangerous (e.g. bungee jumping) that your policy covers you. Make a copy of your insurance policy details and take them with you plus the number they have given you in the case of an emergency/claim.

4) Holiday Money/Currency – You can buy your holiday money at the airport but you’d be much better advised to buy it beforehand to get a better rate of exchange. High street travel companies and online currency providers will often give a more competitive rate. Of course, you’ll need money while away, saving is what most do, but credit cards and loans are often used for emergencies and to cover anything over your expected budget. Payday lenders are easy to find online but offer loans at eye-watering rates. Payday lenders in UK have come under repeated criticism for their high-cost and high-risk lending practices, but at the time of writing are still available. Use wisely if you do embark on this for emergency funds.

5) Address book including emergency numbers – Most holidays go without problems but in case anything occurs where you need help, make sure you have any telephone numbers of relatives you may need or who may need to be contacted. If you’re taking a phone with you, add ‘ICE’ (stands for ‘in case of emergency’) next to the close relative in your phone contacts list you’d want someone to contact should they need to if there was an emergency. You should also make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card to entitle you to free or reduced treatment whilst abroad in the EU, if needed. (

6) Maps/Guidebooks – Essential if you’re going sightseeing!! If you’re planning a lot of visiting make a note of all the places you want to see and where they are in relation to each other. Most hire car companies will give you a map but these can sometimes be basic so make sure you’re prepared. Most hotels have internet access available now (at varying charge rates) so you can also plan it online whilst there if you prefer to.

7) Sun cream/Aftersun/Insect repellent – For those hot days, too long in the sun days and annoying mosquito days!

8) First Aid pack – Basics such as plasters, savlon, nail scissors and perhaps nurofen and alka seltzer!

9) Suitcase, luggage tags and lock – Package holiday companies will usually send luggage tags as part of your confirmation. You can use these or buy your own, although many suitcases come with them also. With regards to a suitcase, the hard ones are great but bear in mind how much they will add to the weight of your luggage. A good lock is always worthwhile, even as a deterrent.

10) Camera – Plus charger and download lead if you are taking a laptop and/or are staying abroad for a while.

11) Sunglasses – a summer sun essential! If you wear glasses there are many prescription sunglasses also available now.

12) Phone and charger – Essential if you want to keep in touch but just bear in mind how much more texts/calls can cost you when abroad. Many phone companies offer holiday packages now so check before you go to ensure you don’t pay more than you need to.

13) Books/Games/Laptop – To keep you occupied whilst travelling or great if you have young kids and want to keep them calm. If taking a laptop make sure there is a safe in the room or/and that it is insured.

14) Toiletries – Everything you use at home and need to take with you. For shampoo and conditioners, rather than packing large bottles into your toiletries bag, why not decant what you need into plastic bottles (readily available from boots and other chemists).

15) Toothbrush!

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