Tips for packing your summer suitcase, from apps to multi-tasking clothes

An organisation expert and stylist offer advice to help streamline the process

Capsule wardrobes, itineraries and fewer shoes can all help make packing for your summer holidays a breeze. Photo: Arnel Hasanovic / Unsplash
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Living in the UAE, chances are high you do a lot of travelling. Whether it's for business, visits to your home country or holidays, suitcases in this region get a lot of use.

With the summer holidays fast approaching and vacations typically everyone’s idea of fun, packing for them comes much lower on the list.

Heading to places with variable climates inevitably means having to pack for all weather eventualities, in addition to taking into account other factors such as local customs, daytime excursions, evening dinners and more.

To make things a little easier, The National speaks to an organisation expert and a stylist about their rules, tips and tricks for packing the perfect summer holiday suitcase.

Write a list

Making a list of things to pack and crossing things off in the days leading up to your holiday will mean you don't forget anything. Photo: Ana Tavares / Unsplash

Whether you type it into your phone or write it in a notepad and stick it to the fridge, the packing list is your best friend when it comes to ensuring nothing gets forgotten.

“I always have a packing list if I am going on a business trip or on holiday somewhere new,” says Shelina Jokhiya, founder of DeCluttr Me. “Then, I start taking out the clothes I plan to pack the week before and make a pile. During the week, I add or remove items from the pile, checking the weather in the location every day.”

Not sure where to start? There are a number of downloadable packing lists available online, as well as apps to suit all types of holidaymakers. PackPoint Travel Packing List checks the weather at your destination and allows you to share your tips with other users, while PackTeo offers packing list templates such as “camping” or “international” that you can then customise.

Check the weather and your itinerary

Dzovig van Kleef, a personal stylist and founder Style Codes suggests some questions to ask yourself: “How long I am going to that particular destination and what activities are involved?”. “Will I be laying on the beach, going hiking or sightseeing and visiting cities or a combination? Knowing all of this helps a lot in planning outfits.”

Putting together a rough itinerary ahead of time means you can pack to accommodate local cultural or religious customs. Having an idea about the kind of restaurants you want to visit will affect whether you pack for casual or high-end establishments.

“The main mistakes I see are packing too much, packing incorrectly, and not factoring in the weather or considering the local culture,” Jokhiya says.

Choose clothes that multi-task

A smaller capsule wardrobe with more tops than bottoms will help with effective packing. Photo: Nordwood Themes / Unsplash

Limited suitcase space need not mean limited outfit options. The best way to ensure pieces will yield the most wear is to plan ahead and pack more tops than bottoms so you can mix and match.

“Many of the clothes I choose are double duty; they can be worn night and day or the type of fabric makes them versatile enough to wear a few times, such as denim shorts,” says Jokhiya.

Van Kleef suggests investing in slip dresses that are lightweight and can be worn during the day as a beach cover-up and also for evening dinners, saying they can be styled with heels or flats.

“Remember, you don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe for your trip,” says Jokhiya. “You most probably have some great outfits you can wear already so take the time to really go through your closet beforehand to uncover any hidden gems and piece them together to create full looks.”

You don’t need all those shoes

Shoes take up a lot of space in a suitcase even when they’re packed correctly, heel to toe and at the bottom of the suitcase.

“People carry too many shoes, especially heels, mules and boots,” says Jokhiya. “They take up so much room and are heavy. I take my trainers in my hand luggage and wear them when I land and wear flip flops in the airport to prevent having to take off my shoes at the scanner. Three pairs of shoes are sufficient, normally.”

Shoes that can work double duty, such as smart flats or casual loafers negate the need for day shoes and night shoes, freeing up more space.

“Don’t take heels for a summer holiday unless if you have an occasion and it’s necessary,” van Kleef suggests.

Packing cubes and flat pack clothing

Packing cubes can bring order and organisation to a messy suitcase. Photo: Jemimah Gray / Unsplash

Packing cubes not only create more space by compressing clothes, they also allow you to divide items into easily-accessible categories.

“Once it comes to packing day, I love to use packing cubes to pack my clothes,” says Jokhiya. “I use one for underwear, one for tops, bottoms, dresses and nightwear or loungewear.”

Cubes can also be used to contain all items, such as clothing, shoes or accessories for a particular outfiit. They are also good for helping separate your partner or children’s clothes from your own if you’re sharing a suitcase, and also to keep clean and dirty items apart.

"Use packing cubes, roll clothes to help reduce the space they take up. Put smaller items into your shoes such as jewellery, underwear, socks and toiletries in ziplock bags,” Jokhiya adds.

When it comes to avoiding pulling out creased clothing, there are ways to pack that can minimise wrinkles.

“Don't fold,” says van Kleef. “Lay everything flat in your suitcase, I found this way much better in terms of space and for the garments when unpacking, they're less wrinkled and it’s easier to hang them especially if I can bring hangers with me.”

Updated: April 25, 2023, 4:03 AM