Your Holiday Packing List and Top Tips

What can be more exciting than going on holiday? There’s nothing I love more than getting another stamp on my passport and exploring exciting new destinations and resorts whilst enjoying a well-earned break. But I can tell you what I really, really don’t love … packing. And I’m sure you’d agree, right?

One of the most common mistakes made whilst getting ready for a holiday is packing too much into your suitcase. Not only is it often not necessary to take so many clothes and accessories, but it can also cost you money if your suitcase ends up weighing more than your allocated luggage allowance.

I actually feel like I have become a bit of a pro packer, often fitting a week’s worth of holiday items into just my hand luggage. So below I have detailed some of my top tips for packing light and also a suggested packing list to help you out in preparation for your next holiday.

Two boys on Trunki suitcases

My top 5 packing tips

• Wear your heaviest clothing to travel in, such as trousers and a sweatshirt or jacket to keep you warm on cooler evenings. After all, airlines weigh baggage, not you.
• Invest in a lightweight suitcase or bag. That way you can afford to pack a bit more in there.
• Don’t pack anything that you can buy out in resort, such as shampoo and conditioner. It’s often cheaper when you buy it abroad anyway. You’re likely to be provided with towels and a hairdryer at your hotel too.
• Be ruthless with your clothing. Whatever clothes you think you’re going to need, get rid of at least a third. You’ll probably spend most of your time in your swimwear.
• Roll, don’t fold. Not only does it save space, but it avoids creases too. Tuck underwear into the gaps and stick rolled up socks inside shoes.

Suggested packing list for a week in the sun

Baby in suitcase


• Passport
• Travel insurance documents
• Tickets/booking confirmations – flights, accommodation etc.
• Bank cards, foreign currency and maybe a travel money card

Girl lying next to suitcase


• Sweatshirt / cardigan / light jacket for cool evenings (can be worn to travel in)
• Scarf/overshirt – can be used for warmth in the evenings or as a cover-up after the beach
• Trousers x 1 (can be worn to travel in)
• Closed-toe shoes (can be worn to travel in)
• Sun hat (can be worn to travel in, to avoid damage)
• Shorts x 2
• Day tops x 4
• Lightweight evening outfits x 5 – non-crease dresses or shirts
• Swimwear x 2
• Underwear x 7 – these take up little room, so there is no need to cut back on such essentials!
• Flip flops/sandals
• Socks x 3 – only if your closed-toe shoes require them
• Nightwear x 1

Mum and child playing


• Toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste
• Small roll-on deodorant
• Hairbrush/accessories
• Make-up if necessary
• Razor
• Small moisturiser with SPF
• Diarrhoea treatment
• Paracetamol
• Antiseptic cream
• Plasters
• Any personal medication

Usually provided by the hotel or bought in resort: Hair dryer; towels; shampoo; shower gel; sun cream (very important!); after sun and bug repellent if necessary

Kids at airport

Everything Else

• Mobile phone/charger/headphones
• Camera/charger
• Travel adaptor
• Sunglasses
• Pen/paper
• Reading material
• Day bag/handbag

Packing for children too?

If you’re heading off on a family holiday, it’s understandable that you’re going to need more space and your luggage will be a little heavier. As well as their clothes and food requirements, make sure you pack plenty of sun protection, including a sun hat and some waterproof factor 50+ sun cream. It’s probably a good idea to pack some toys to keep them entertained on the flight too.

First published 2018. Republished 2021

 Sadie Geoghegan

About the author

Sadie Geoghegan is a freelance travel writer who, when she’s not exploring the world, can be found writing at home with her dog in Cambridge.