We’re all guilty of trying to cram far too much into our suitcases. Try as we might, we always seem to come back with t-shirts we never wore and jackets we didn’t really need. In fact, a recent survey from Monarch Airlines reveals a third of Brits wear no more than half the clothes they take with them on holiday. Some of us even admit taking pillows and toilet rolls abroad – things hotels provide for free!


You’ll have to drag that suitcase around London, the airport and your destination, so it’s vital to think wisely about what you pack. Not to mention you may also incur extra charges from your airline should your suitcase be too big or weigh too much. To make sure that doesn’t happen, here’s some tips on how to pack light.

Do you really need that?

Grab everything you want to take on holiday with you and spread it out on the bed. This will make it easier to scrutinise everything you’ve picked. Don’t think: will I wear/use it? But instead whether you’ll use it enough to justify bringing it with you. If you’re only going scuba diving one day, don’t bother bringing your snorkel; it makes far more sense just to rent one.

Don’t bring anything you can’t buy out there either. Most places will have local stores and supermarket, where you can buy toiletries from, so you really don’t need to worry about what will happen if you run out of shampoo or toothpaste. You will probably also find your hotel will provide you with everything you need in that department, as well as other items you may deem essentially, such as hair dryers.

Pack for the best-case scenario

Us Brits are used to the weather going from torrential rain one moment and blazing sunshine the next, so it’s no wonder we pack for all possible weather conditions. However, this takes up far too much room and we can guarantee you’ll never end up wearing it all. Dump the heavy jacket and opt for a lighter one instead, or better still, pack lots of lightweight clothes that can be layered.

The same goes for medicines and toiletries. By all means take a small first aid kit if you think you’ll need one, but you don’t need to pack every variety of over-the-counter medication going. In the unlikely event you fall ill with a stomach bug, you’ll be able to buy medicine out there. Don’t pack huge bottles of shampoo or shower gel either, opt for sample packets or small, travel-sized bottles. Again, if you run out, shampoo isn’t hard to find!

Keep everything neat and tightly-packed

Some people roll their clothes, others fold them, but the really smart people use vacuum storage bags. Not only do these keep your clothes nice and neat, they ensure that you save as much space possible. Folding boards for clothes are also useful for this reason, so use whichever solution you prefer. Packing cubes are ideal for smaller items, such as your first aid kit or underwear.

Only pack enough stuff for a week

Whether you’re going away for one month or one week, you should only pack enough clothes to last you the latter. You will save so much room and weight by taking just a few pairs of socks and underwear. It doesn’t cost much to get your clothes washed at the local laundrette – your hotel might have its own guest cleaning facilities. Some people go so far as to take some detergent with them and wash their clothes in the shower. You survived your gap year with just five pairs of pants, we’re sure you can manage a luxury two week holiday with the same number.

Don’t take too many pairs of shoes with you either. Wear your heaviest pair to the airport and carry your super light flip-flops in your suitcase. Each pair of dress shoes you pack adds around 0.6 kilograms of weight to your luggage, so leave that extra pair of heels at home.

Colour coordinate

If you’re worried cutting down your holiday wardrobe will mean you won’t have enough outfits to wear during your trip, take clothes that go well together. Pick a colour scheme (neutral is best) and stick to it when choosing what to take with you. That way, you’ll have a lot more options in terms of holiday outfits.

Take clothing items that have multiple uses too. Wrap dresses can be worn during the day and dressed up for evenings out, and sarongs, with a bit of imagination, can become a towel, skirt, bag and even a sunshade at a moment’s notice.

Leave the gadgets at home

We all love our gadgets, and there are some great ones designed to make our lives easier on holiday, but the question is: do you really need them? One of the best things about going on holiday is the ability to disconnect from it all – no Facebook, no work emails, no distractions. Just you and the pool. If you take your laptop with you, you’re only going to be tempted to try and do some work while you’re away, not to mention it takes up a huge amount of space in your luggage.

Try taking just one gadget with you, such as your phone. You can use it to navigate yourself when you’re lost, entertain yourself on the plane and it can also act as your camera. Just be careful you don’t incur any roaming charges.

By following our tips you should free up a lot of room in your suitcase, so you won’t be pushed for space when it comes to bringing home souvenirs. You never know, the next time you take a city break to Europe you may be able to fit all your necessities in your carry-on bag.