The global pause on travel of the past year and a half has given us all a chance to re-think the way we travel and why we travel.
During the pandemic, all I could do was scroll through my favorite travel pages and save restaurants and dream destinations on Instagram. When I discovered that some of the European countries were finally opening up for tourism, I immediately booked a vacation to Mallorca, a Mediterranean Island I’ve been dreaming about for so long. There’s just something about the feel of the sea air, especially when we had such an awful summer here in Denmark (where I live now). My pre-pandemic life here in Europe was full of both business and vacation trips, so I was pretty skilled at packing my luggage effectively. But more than a year of staycation has made me forget the real world of security checks, baggage allowances and the limited space in the overhead lockers. Luggage packing might not have crossed your mind lately, but with a spontaneous trip on the horizon for me, packing definitely became the main focus of my trip preparation activities.
While planning my long-awaited trip to Mallorca, I didn’t want to carry too much clothing, but I also wanted my trip to be as easy and comfortable as possible. With only 20kgs (or about 44 lbs) of baggage allowance for my one-year-old daughter, husband and me, I really had to think of new and effective ways of packing. I hope my tips will be useful to you, no matter if you are going by yourself or with the whole family.
Beach, City or Mountains?
Are you going on beach vacation? Or are you planning to hike? How many day and evening outfits do you need? Are you going to do any sports? These and other questions are important to think about in order to avoid taking too much unnecessary clothing. Moreover, failing to plan your outfits in advance might result in panic-buying pieces you’ll never wear again. My vacation was all about the beach and small town strolls, so my first instinct was of course, to pack ALL of my favorite summer dresses. That would make for a very, very heavy suitcase, so instead I hung all the dresses on a rack and re-evaluated the planned activities. I narrowed my packing list to 8 dresses, three of which were a bit more festive, 2 pairs of shorts, a classic linen shirt, 2 bikinis and 1 one-piece swimsuit. Your list would be different from mine, but the idea is to count the days and then calculate an approximate number of outfits for the trip.
Pretty and practical.
There is one thing that I have learned from the local girls while living here in Denmark – which is to put comfort above all other things. So, when packing, I was focused on having comfortable clothes and shoes. Island life is definitely not for high heels, synthetic fabrics or a lot of makeup. It’s nice to be able to leave those types of things out of the suitcase. Wearing your bulkiest items on the airplane might also be a good idea, like your most comfortable sneakers and a blazer that matches most of your other vacation outfits, in case of cooler weather.
A very useful trick that I learned from one of my friends, who happens to be a stylist, is to lay out all items you want to take with you on a bright surface and sort thoroughly. Remove all those clothes that are too similar (you won’t need 3 white dresses), or conversely, that don’t coordinate well together. You are basically creating an ideal vacation capsule – items that you will be wearing again and again, no matter the adventure. When you’re done planning the core of your capsule, add necessary outerwear items (light sweaters or jackets) that will match the capsule collection. I truly believe this is a great exercise for your normal daily dressing as well. Ultimately, careful wardrobe planning is always key to avoiding impulse shopping and is definitely a more sustainable lifestyle.
Variety is the key.
Now take a look at your selection again to see if you have enough variety. Remember that a pair of shorts, a skirt, a dress, a blouse, a shirt and a blazer will result in many more interesting looks than just 3 pairs of shorts and 3 t-shirts. For Mallorca, I knew that I would probably be living in my swimsuits, so I took a pair of shorts and a couple of linen shirts that would look great by themselves but also with any swimsuit or bikini I might be wearing.
When you’re done with your getaway capsule, try to find a minimum of 2 pairs of comfortable shoes that will work well with the capsule. Luckily flats are having a major comeback, so I’d definitely invest in some great summer sandals. Also, I never actually end up wearing high heels on vacation, so do re-evaluate, if you plan to take a pair with you. In the end, I took my all-time favorite dad sandals by Chanel and a pair of good old Havaianas– they are super trendy and comfortable too. Finally, fill in the remaining gaps in your collection with matching accessories – it could be a waist belt for your summer dresses, a silk scarf, jewelry (keep fine jewelry in your carry-on though) or a cute bag. Personally, I don’t like taking too many bags with me, as they are heavy and take up too much space. For this trip, I chose a round straw bag that looked good with all my outfits, and I couldn’t have been happier about that decision.
Roll, don’t fold.
I’m a huge fan of Marie Kondo’s folding technique and as an experienced traveler, I can confirm that it does save space in your suitcase. I also prefer to pack clothes in sections: heavier items closer to the wheels, day dresses on one side and going-out dresses on another side. It might seem time consuming at first, but the more you pack, the faster you get.
Good packing is not only about maximizing your luggage allowance or your vacation looks. It’s truly a mood-boosting activity, almost like a mindfulness practice for me (I can’t be the only one, right?). Effective packing can change the mood of your trip and save a lot of time and nerves. After more than a year spent in the world of lockdowns and travel restrictions, I believe most of us have learned that simplicity is true luxury. While we’re out exploring the world, we can still simplify our wardrobes, calendars and decisions, and this is exactly the experience I wanted for my very first trip in 2021. Whether you’ve already booked a getaway or are still dreaming of travel, I wish for you to stay safe and to bring that wonder of travel to wherever you are <3.
all photos by Alima Holck
Alima (@alimaholck) is a Kazakh girl living in Denmark. She calls herself a 21st century nomad with a passion for travel, fashion and history. Originally from Kazakhstan, she’s lived in Dubai and Shanghai and is now settled in Aarhus together with her husband and a 1-year-old daughter. Currently Alima works as an e-commerce buyer for a global retail fashion company headquartered in Denmark.