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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No not Christmas – summer holidays. The sun is shining, there’s a scent of burnt sausages in the air and you’re counting down the days until your holiday. But your trip doesn’t start when you arrive at the airport. It begins as soon as you start prepping what you’re going to take with you.

Unless you’re travelling by private jet, that means thinking carefully about how to get the most of your limited luggage. “I like to think of holiday packing in terms of outfits,” says our stylist and air miles-accruer Brooke Philips. “It’s easier to plan that way. You don’t necessarily have to stick to those outfits, but it means you’ll have everything you need and plenty of options.”

Of course, not all holidays are the same. But whether you’re spending two weeks on a beach in Bali or a long weekend in Brighton, these core components are a useful starting point. “This works for a city break,” says Brooke, “but you can scale it up or down depending on your holiday. If you’re going for longer, pack more of everything. If it’s a beach break, take more swim shorts and fewer shirts.” And if you’re going skiing, well, you’re on your own.

1 x trainers

“It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a minimalist pair of trainers out to dinner these days, which means you can leave the smart shoes at home. Go for a crisp white pair – they’ll go with anything. Make sure to wear them before you go, to break them in. Painful shoes are the quickest way to stop you feeling relaxed.”

1 x espadrilles or sandals

“Sandals are comfortable to walk around in all day, so make a great alternative to trainers. If you prefer your feet to be covered then go for a pair of espadrilles – they instantly feel summery.”

2 x chino shorts

“Pack two pairs of chino shorts, one casual and one a bit smarter. Stick to simple colours like navy or stone – they’ll work with anything. Keep them just above the knee, by about an inch, for an appropriate-anywhere look.”

1 x swimming shorts

“Even if you’re not on a beach holiday, it’s always good to have a pair of swim shorts. You never know when you might need them. Avoid anything with flamingos on them and opt for a pair in a muted colour, or with a subtle pattern like stripes. Then you can wear them out of the water, too.”

1 x pair of chinos

“Although you’ll mostly be in shorts, it’s always good to have a pair of chinos that can be dressed up or down when necessary.”

2 x t-shirts

“I’d suggest taking one plain t-shirt – a white tee is always good and will reflect the sun, so keeps you cooler too – and one more interesting t-shirt. This can be patterned or colourful, whatever you usually wear, but having it will add more variety to your outfits.”

1 x shirt

“It’s always good to have a shirt in case you go somewhere that requires more than a t-shirt. I’d go for a camp collar shirt in a subtle colour or pattern. It feels summery, but you can dress it up with the chinos if you need to.”

1 x overshirt

“This does double duty, which is what you want on holiday. It’s a lightweight jacket for the cooler evenings, but can also be worn over a t-shirt to smarten up your outfit if you’re going out.”

1 x baseball cap

“Go for a simple, logo-free, style. It works with more outfits. And, as a plus, it keeps the sun off your head.”

1 x sunglasses

“You can’t go on holiday without sunglasses. If you have a style you know suits your face, take those. Sunglasses are small and easy to pack, so if you’re more of a one pair per day kinda guy, go crazy.”

1 x tote bag

“I never travel without a tote bag, they’re just so practical. Go for something that you can fold up and pack in your case so you don’t need to worry about too many bags.”

1 x SPF

“This is the most important thing – sunburn will ruin your holiday and put your health at risk. Even if you’re not planning on sunbathing, get a moisturiser with added SPF and apply each morning. You want to use an amount that’s about the size of a 50-pence piece to get proper coverage.”


Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Photography: Andras Hari
Styling: Brooke Philips
Styling assistant: Toby Standing