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Take the hassle out of packing

Heading on a weekend break? Our packing list is full of handy advice for travelling light.

Make a list. Check it twice.

The excitement of a weekend getaway in Europe is hard to beat but packing for short trips can be a challenge. With such a short time to squeeze as much fun out of as possible you won’t want to waste a moment waiting by a luggage carousel at the airport. Packing light and packing smart is the answer, and being prepared is the key.

It's worth spending some time thinking about the activities you’ll get up to while on your mini break and jotting down a list of essential items before you start packing your bags. Compiling a list of items you’ll need is a quick and easy way to guarantee you will have everything you need for your time away and not anything to weigh you down unnecessarily.

Travel and international guides

Let’s face it, almost anything you forget to pack can easily be purchased in most places, so if you forget to pack your bikini, there’s no need to head to the nearest nudist beach, unless you want to or have a particular aversion to tan lines of course. The important thing to remember is that you’ll need your passport to get to your destination and then money to buy that new bikini. 

Make sure you pack these and you'll be prepared for almost anything:

  • Passport (with at least 6 months' validity left)
  • Wallet/purse and cash (sometimes we forget the most obvious things)
  • Credit/debit cards or travellers cheques (plus list of numbers of both)
  • ID or driver's licence (is your driver’s licence valid in the country you are visiting?)
  • Car and house keys (plus duplicate sets kept in different bags)
  • Eye glasses or contact lenses (plus lens cleaner)
  • Sunglasses
  • Watch
  • Medical insurance cards (EHIC)
  • Prescriptions and other medications
  • Itineraries, tickets and reservation confirmations
  • Maps and directions
  • Small bag for day-to-day use
  • Camera and film (battery charger)
  • European plug adaptor
  • Books and magazines for kids and adults
  • Toys, playing cards, small games
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Umbrella and coat
  • Large plastic bags for laundry and wet items
  • Small plastic bags
  • Disposable wipes (or put damp paper towels in zippered plastic bags)
  • Travel alarm
  • Sewing kit
  • First-aid kit
  • Snacks/gum
  • Water/juice boxes, no-spill cups
  • Paper napkins/towels

Items like pocket knives, tweezers, sewing kits, and anything else that might be considered dangerous should be packed in check-in luggage. Also note the carry-on liquids restrictions – all liquids (including creams, gels and sprays) should be in bottles of 100mls or less, and all bottles holding liquids must be able to fit into the small plastic ziplock bags provided at the airport security checkpoints.

Choose your clothes to suit your plans

Some say the secret to packing light is to pack everything that you think you will need then halve it. Whether or not you choose to use this method, it will help you to know the climate you are going to, or better yet, the weather you can expect. You won’t want to be shivering in a sundress, straw hat and sandals when an umbrella, coat and wellies will keep you happily sightseeing during a summer shower.

The other factor to bear in mind is what types of activities you will be enjoying on your weekend getaway. Will it be a weekend of club crawling with your best mates, a romantic city break for 2, or exploring nature with the kids on a mountain bike? Whatever the scenario, choosing items of clothing that can easily be mixed and matched will get you further than packing whole outfits. Think t-shirts that will keep you comfortable during the day and that can be dressed up for night when combined with a smart jacket or jewellery.

Here is a list of clothes and toiletries to pack for the family:

Clothes Toiletries For baby
Bathing suits
Outerwear in winter
Sportswear if needed
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash
Combs, brushes, hair accessories, blow dryer (if hotel does not provide one)
Shampoo and conditioner
Sunscreens and lip balm
Insect repellent
Shaving supplies
Nail clippers, scissors and emery boards
Cotton balls or swabs
Feminine hygiene items
Car seat
Nappy bag
Disposable nappies
Changing pad
Baby powder and lotion
Zippered plastic bags
Wet wipes
Bathing supplies
Nursing pads and burp pads
Baby food and spoon
Bottles, teats and caps
Formula or juice
Changes of clothing
Jacket or jumper
Collapsible stroller with canopy or umbrella
Front or back child-carrying pack, or sling style
Waterproof sheets
Large plastic bags for wet clothes (can also be used as a changing pad in a pinch)

Packing: it's an exact science

Your money abroad

Once you've figured out exactly what you would like to pack, it may be tempting to quickly fling everything into your suitcase or backpack, but a more considered approach should maximise space and minimise creases.   

First of all, pick out the outfit you will wear on your way to your holiday destination. Try to wear rather than pack any bulky or large items such as boots or a thick jumper.  Wearing bulky items immediately creates more space in your luggage for other items.

Shoes should be first to go into your bag, with pairs of shoes facing each other sole to sole and heel to toe. Stuff your shoes with socks and underwear and any other small items. Put dirty shoes in plastic bags to ensure they do not mess up other items. Your bag of toiletries should then be packed towards the bottom of your luggage if you have a wheelie bag so that, when the bag is upright, the bag of toiletries will not weigh upon or crease any clothes. 

Roll each piece of clothing to minimise creasing and try to slot each rolled up item neatly into the remaining space in the bag. Laying tissue paper between silk tops and shirts can also help to prevent creases. Long garments like dresses, skirts and trousers can be laid straight across the bag with the ends hanging out over the sides of the bag. Place rolled garments inside the bag on top of the long garment, and finally fold the edges of the garment in over the rolled up items.

Download our free Travel Money guide for more articles

Heading off to spend a month exploring a new country? Or simply spending a weekend away from home?

We’ve put this guide together to keep you inspired, to ensure you make the most of all your free time, and to give you everything you’ll need to organise your finances on the road

Travel Money 2.47 MB

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