packing tips

Foolproof packing tips

Cathy, the host of ‘Packed to Travel’ workshops at The Ark Clothing Co, shares her foolproof packing tips to make sure you look halfway decent when you climb the Eiffel Tower, or ride a camel into Petra.

What are the three main packing mistakes people make? 

  1. Packing without planning. This is usually done the night before.
  2. Packing too much and not creating a coordinated wardrobe with simple, staple pieces.
  3. Not including layering pieces for cooling and heating. The Ark Clothing Co where I work presents these fantastic ‘Packed to Travel’ workshops where we show you how to pack everything you need for a two week holiday in one carry-on bag!

What are the ‘must haves’ in terms of stylish packing? 

Versatile pieces that will take you from day to night with just a little tweak. Nice shoes but only three pairs. Fabulous scarves and a few pieces of bling (not Grandma’s jewels, just costume).  

To iron or not to iron? 

Definitely no iron – all wash and drip dry. Once dry, blast with the hairdryer if a little too creased.

What about travelling from hot to cold or vice versa – any tips there?

Layering pieces is the key. Wear your boots and travel coat on the aeroplane. Exchange everyday flip-flops for nice colourful sandals that can be worn with dresses or pants. Include a light knit that can be rolled up into your bag and thrown on if the weather turns cool.

Should you use the hotel laundry service or wash your own? 

Wash your own but be sure to pack two small plastic or blow up coat hangers – one clip and one ordinary hanger. Hotel hangers are usually un-detachable in the wardrobes and you will want to wash and dry your clothes in the bathroom.

How do you avoid looking like a tragic tourist? 

For that surprise invitation out – the opera, the ballet, a fabulous stylish restaurant – ensure you pack that little black slip dress or tube dress that can be layered with a sheer fashion top, creating a very elegant look. The Ark slip dress rolls into a ball and fits inside your shoes when packing so all you do is shake it out and off you go. Add a gorgeous silk scarf or wrap and a statement piece of bling and you’re all set.

What should you buy when you’re there? 

Something that will transport you back to this special holiday when you wear it. I usually buy jewellery, a scarf or a bag so when I wear it at home, I am taken back. I have also been known to purchase art works, paintings or pieces that will sit nicely in my home décor. I look at these every day and enjoy them (the paintings come home in a tube and I get them framed once I’m back home).

How did you learn this stuff?

I have learnt from my mistakes. I used to over pack and never gave myself enough time to organise my travel wardrobe. I needed to think about what I would be doing on this holiday and what weather I should expect. It is challenging to pack at home in winter when travelling to summer. We always underestimate the heat and the humidity of warmer climates in the middle of our winter.

Two major mistakes – taking old sandals on holiday.  On the second day the strap broke. It was such a pain shopping for comfortable shoes while on a bike riding tour around Bruges, Belgium, with friends. All the stores were full of gorgeous winter boots.  My second disaster – I persuaded the cabin crew to store my suit pack for a two-day conference in the first class hanging locker. On arrival the suit pack had disappeared; apparently another passenger had accidentally taken it off on the first transit stop. It was my whole weekend wardrobe, other than my underwear and toiletries, and it was already 8:30pm. That night I went to the conference cocktail party dressed by the Hyatt lost property department matched with some old Hyatt uniforms. It was so funny – no one even noticed!

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Do you have any packing tips you would like to share? Please post them in the comments below.

Did you like this post? If so, you might enjoy this one about travel booking tips.

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