Travelling Light + Luxe: 5 Simple Steps
Whenever an opportunity arises to accompany my Frenchman on a work trip to an undiscovered European city, or join a gal pal for an island escape, it takes just 30 minutes to pack my bag.
Less is so much more when it comes to travelling. I don't ever skimp on taking anything I want, I never "check in" any luggage and yet always have space for a few little luxuries. The secret is preparation and to make every item I take do double - or triple - duty.
1. HANDBAGS, SHOES + ACCESSORIES
- 1 x bandoulière (cross-body) handbag like my chic Michael Kors, for sightseeing by day and thanks to a detachable strap, transforms into a clutch for night. It's small enough to not be cumbersome, allows both my hands to be free and still fits a tiny umbrella, Uniqlo raincoat-in-a-pouch, wallet, lip balm, passport, iPhone and keys! Phew! I own two; one in peach for summer and black for winter.
- 1 x pair white Adidas tennis sneakers - good for both winter or summer, when you know you're going to explore acres of that beautiful new city you're in. I walked 13 kilometres the first day I visited Prague and these sneakers took me through in chic comfort!
- 1 x pair dress sandals - don't bother packing heels unless you've really got to. Dress sandals like these from Nine West are comfortable enough for smart day wear (I've worn them traipsing all over cobblestoned rues in Paris) and double as sparkly evening flats with a long, flowing dress, 7/8 jeans or cigarette pants.
- 1 x pair Birkenstocks - comfy like sneakers, but better for beach and summertime visits to cobblestoned European cities. If you buy a pair in a textured, embossed print, they double beautifully for understated, chic evening wear paired with knee-length dresses and tailored shorts.
- 1 x pair flat boots - for winter, I can't go past my black Belstaff knee-length boots that get me through puddles, rain, snow and ice and still keep my toes cosy and comfortable!
- 1 x scarf in a colour or pattern that will accessorise with the clothes you're taking and doubles as a sarong in summer or shawl in cooler weather.
- 1 x hat that preferably can withstand being packed in your suitcase, or if not, simply wear it on your head on the flight. I own just two hats; a havana for summer and a black felt one from French label Maje for winter, and each accessories beautifully with anything I wear.
- 1 x statement bracelet, necklace or pair of earrings. I never take off a pair of tiny diamond stud earrings, a simple diamond ring and a couple of slim gold necklaces, because they're timeless and accessorise with anything I wear by day or night, city or beach. So when I travel, I accentuate them sometimes with just one statement piece and never have to store valuables in a hotel room safe.
2. LITTLE LUXURIES
Make your hotel room a haven away from home with :
- a travel-sized scented candle like mine from Compagnie de Provence (don't ever leave it burning while you go to sleep or leave the room).
- a silk eye mask and ear plugs, to guarantee a peaceful slumber.
- a travel-sized bottle of your favourite fragrance (for me it's Chanel Chance in summer and Coco in winter).
- I always bring my own tea, because hotels don't seem to realise that mornings simply can't start without a cup of Mariage Frères Paris Breakfast Tea!
3. RECORD YOUR ADVENTURES
- I use my iPhone to take photos that are almost as good as any DLSR but without the weight and hassle of carrying one and to record notes about anything I've seen that I want to write about later. I also use Google Maps to store 'favourite' restaurants or shops or 'want to go' places.
- My Wanderlust journal is a luxe indulgence, as it is a little heavy and does occupy valuable suitcase real estate, but is well worth it. It's divided into sections for each destination, prompts me to write creatively about my adventures with quirky questions, features inspiring quotes and photography and provides extra pages to record my own thoughts or stick in any meaningful souvenir.
- Toiletries - I don't need a massive toiletries bag full of everything I have at home. I have a small Kate Spade waterproof pouch that contains miniature sized accessories like hairbrush, toothbrush, mascara, bandaids and painkillers, and a separate clear customs-friendly plastic pouch containing all my 100ml or less-sized bottles of moisturiser, shampoo, deodorant, perfume, toothpaste, etc. Keep two small pouches like this in your bathroom cabinet stocked and ready to go, so when it comes time to pack for travel, you can just throw them in your bag without a second thought. Easy!
- Wallet - I leave behind my entire wallet and just take my tiny, cute gold Witchery zippered mini-wallet with two credit cards, cash, drivers licence or ID and business cards.
- Book - I take just one lightweight paperback book for air travel that I know for sure is interesting enough to actually read (and not just take up luggage space), along with earplugs in my cross-body bag that drown out safety announcements/noisy babies/inebriated neighbours so I can read in peace!
5. THE ART OF PACKING LIGHT
- Think about miniature versions of everything. I love Uniqlo's rainjackets and lightweight down jackets that are packed into tiny drawstring pouches, and I recently found a hand-sized umbrella at Marks & Spencer that fits inside my cross-body handbag.
- Choose a main colour you'll wear the whole time you're away. My choice is based on either white or peach in summer, navy or black in winter. This makes it so much simpler to choose what clothing and accessories to pack because you literally have less options!
- Lay out all the clothing and accessories you'd like to take, and that you think you'll need, in that colourway.
- Ask yourself : What will I realistically wear by day? What will I wear by night? Can I hand wash my smalls each night and therefore pack less of them? Do I really need two jackets when one trenchcoat might do for day and night, casual and chic? Do I need three swimsuits or will one be enough?
- Pack the absolute essentials straight in your suitcase, then piece by piece "allow" other pieces to join them, depending on whether they can do double duty and will actually be needed. They're occupying valuable suitcase real estate!