Hola! I’m back and currently writing to you from sunny Barcelona!
Excuse the grand hiatus but with a trip as long as 10 weeks, the last thing on my mind I wanted to do was be on a laptop. So I’ve not published anything more than one blog post in a whole month!
In case I haven’t already been particularly clear on the whirlwind that led up to my holiday, I am off work and travelling for 10 weeks with my boyfriend, Matt. We started in London, then visited Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Paris. Currently, We’re in Barcelona and tomorrow we head to Milan for two days, before visiting Florence, Rome, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Naples and then fly to Mykonos for a 10 day Greek Island boat tour. Hurrah! And also - sorry - I hate myself in principle as well.
Truth be told, we have worked hard and saved up all our own money for this trip. I don’t blog full-time, or even part time (technically). I work 5 days as week in policy so it is all a bit of a juggling act in day to day life. A holiday was well in order. To be super clear, this isn’t a blog trip at all, but I did spend some time meeting some locals I admire in London. So everything I do or recommend is because I likely just stumbled on it. As such, details may vary!
Anyway - back to this gorgeous shoot that I did with Ashley Church in the week before I went on holiday - aren’t the pictures stunning? (if I do say so myself).
We’re a month into being away, so it’s a good chance to reflect on what I’ve done well and less well with my packing. I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve learnt. Let’s start with the basics. After all, 10 weeks is a lot of time to go away for!
1. DO take lots of socks and underwear
You never know when you’re going to be caught out while away overseas, especially because in the modern world of Air B&B (which we’re staying in for most of our holiday). You want to never be caught without a pair so make sure you don’t skimp. White socks can look surprisingly chic with flats, and are great in the heat because the soak up moisture in your shoe.
2. Don’t bother with heels
This might be controversial, but I’m going to call it. You’re much better off with a pair of chic flats or boots, and skip high-heels all together. I am having to go light on luggage because we’re taking cheap and cheerful airlines that tend to limit weight to between 20-23kg. Some airlines also seem to weigh your bag differently (I suspect EasyJet adds a couple of base KG but that’s just a conspiracy theory), so ideally you want to use everything often that you take. I don’t think that unless you have feet of steel like a couple of my petite friends do, you can take walking up to 30,000 steps a day in stilettos. They’re shaped weird, aren’t really comfortable and take up precious space. Be rough. Cut it.
3. Do take a pair of running shoes
I can’t believe I am saying it but a proper pair of running trainers can be a lifesaver when you need proper support when climbing a hill or similar. We climbed Mt Tibidabo in Barcelona a few days ago and it was similar to Mount Victoria but about 25% harder. To have done that in sandals or sneakers would have been silly. You never know when you’ll need running shoes but when you do, you’ll be grateful.
4. Don’t ignore that one piece of carry on luggage rule - be strict!
We’ve already seen numerous fights at airports between airline staff and travellers who insist that they have checked that their big wheelie bag fits the maximum restrictions. It’s ugly. Just take one big hold-all handbag, and leave the fights behind. Don’t think you can game the system. You can’t. Period. Think strategically about your hold-all and try as hard as you can to get one with a cross body strap and a zip along the top. This is very important to try and stop items being stolen from your luggage (especially in cities like Barcelona!).
5. Do invest in chic basics that go with each other
Plain white tops, simple dark t-shirts and breezy shorts are perfect for Europe, especially when it’s hot. Pack so you could pair pieces together if necessary, and think about a dominant colour palate you like. Mine is navy, punctuated with shots of pink and orange and white. Avoid too many complicated patterns that could clash, and go for natural fabrics like cotton and linen which breathe. Use jewellery as a statement. Personally, I like big earrings because I don’t wear necklaces or bracelets. They make an outfit more formal for evening.
6. DON’T take a wheelie bag - go back-pack style
Okay, again, controversial but for 10 weeks, especially in Europe, you need to understand that you will experience many cobbled streets and many small staircases. Wheelie bags are not that friendly for such purposes. I was sceptical myself, but now I am entirely converted. We’re borrowing amazing quality Osprey backpacks and I would now personally suggest buying one of your own. These are really comfortable and exceptionally practical. They hold a great deal and mean that there’s less fussing and more exploring to be done.
7. DO pack mini’s and organize makeup by function
I don’t bother to wear makeup while flying, but I do like to have a little case of facewash, essential oils, toner and that kind of thing so that I can freshen up on the metaphorical road. Spritzing your space with a lovely lavender spray on a long-haul journey can be very relieving. I love Aesop’s travel kits which include mini’s of their best-selling products. They’re floral and spice based scents cut through the plastic and air-conditioning smell of airplanes and their chic packaging makes me feel like I am an experienced flyer. The kits even have names so you can match your destination to your mini-pack or visa-versa.
Makeup wise, you may have to go through and cull out products to lighten the load. Remember, every gram counts. I’ve taken an embarrassing amount of product away with me, so I might not be your best role model here. However, I would suggest prioritising a good SPF foundation (Bare Minerals do a great Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30 in 02 Vanilla), mascara (like Bare Minerals in Lash Domination Intense Black), blush (like the Glossier Cloud Paints) and brow product (I love Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Ash by Hourglass Cosmetics and Brow Volumising Fiber Gel in Soft Brunette by the same company)
8. DON’T take too many books (but ALWAYS take a few)
Sadly, books are the sort of thing you intend to stock up on before a holiday but they’re just so cumbersome! However, taking one or two and then buying a new novel while away, or ditching your old one, can be a good method. I still prefer old school books to Kindle, because they don’t need charging, but that’s also a sensible solution.
9. DO roll, don’t fold
Rolling is the most effective way to push your clothes into your bag. Use a heavy makeup bag or shoes as a press on top and fill gaps with other items like t-shirts or socks. Make that bag work hard, and don’t worry about creases. You can always iron your clothes at the other end.
10. DON’T forget to follow your own rules
There are so many guides to packing that it can feel like it is a competition to ‘get it right’. Ultimately, you just have to do what works for you. Hopefully these tips above have been helpful. I’d also add DON’T take anything with holes in it or that is stretched or worn out. Buy quality and wear quality pieces. 3 - 4 pairs of shoes should be plenty. I’ve taken some running shoes, some Birkenstocks, some vans white lace up plimsoles and a pair of loafers. And finally, there’s always a Laundromat somewhere not too far away!