How to pack for a short break

Woman packing a suitcase

Packing for a short break can be a minefield, but with careful planning and preparation it's possible to take all the essentials, in an easy-to-transport bag, and still look chic. Follow our guide on what to wear for a weekend break, from Brighton to Barbados, and a fashionable, functional holiday wardrobe will be yours.

Plan ahead

Research the climate before you start packing. Take a quick weather check and be prepared for all eventualities. FInd weather reports and general cliamte info at

Buy decent luggage

We've all seen the battered suitcase on the carousel, held together by gaffer tape and an old belt, this is not a sophisticated way to travel. Much better to invest in a quality weekend bag, preferably a back-saving wheelie case, to upgrade your travel IQ.

Pack like a professional

Think about all the different holiday scenarios - sightseeing, eating out, sunbathing by the pool - and then lay suitable outfits out on the bed. Realistically, you'll probably only need half this stuff, so edit out any unnecessary items and avoid repetition. Be ruthless, pack a minimal amount and take some spare cash just in case.

Place heavy items at the bottom of the case, pack clean shoes toe-to-heel, then roll up simple items - T-shirts, knickers, swimwear - and fill in the gaps. Layer lighter-weight clothes on top of this. Smarter items - a tailored jacket or dress - should be placed in a dry-cleaning bag, neatly folded at the top of the suitcase, together with any items for immediate use. Keep toiletries in a separate bag, in case of spillage.

A fabric laundry bag is a useful item and much nicer than a plastic bag - use it to store delicate underwear on the way out.

And finally, never take more luggage than you can carry.

Take a capsule wardrobe

Stick to simple, easy to co-ordinate basics in neutral shades. Choose multi-tasking items - a shift dress, tunic top, cardigan, wide leg trousers - and experiment with different combinations. Use accessories to add colour and dress up any outfit. Accessories are light and easy to carry, so don't scrimp! With a limited amount of clothing, accessories are your new best friend. Scarves, beaded necklaces and sarongs can be stored inside shoes. Belts can be rolled up and stored at the corner of the case. For more information on putting together the perfect capsule wardrobe, read our guide.

Airline travel

Wear thin layers to travel in, a vest top, T-shirt and cashmere cardigan or sweater, with jeans or stretch trousers will feel comfortably warm and look smart. It's always cooler than you think on the airplane and those regulation blankets are nasty.

The essential carry-on case should contain the following items:

• Any valuables, iPod, camera, expensive jewellery, contact lenses and so on
• Travel documents - a proper travel wallet helps keep paperwork organised and avoids any last-minute airport panic
• Reading material
• Underwear in case checked-in luggage goes missing
• Lavender oil and Rescue Remedy for the nervous traveller
• Lip balm and moisturiser for in-flight rehydration (remember to take travel-sized products to get through security)
• Indispensable make-up items - lipstick, blusher, mascara
• A toothbrush and toothpaste
• Travel sweets and water (bought airside, of course)
• Sunglasses - great for Jackie O style glamour, arrival at a sunny destination and disguising tired red eyes

Happy holidays!

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