How to Pack Light for a Holiday

When packing for a holiday, it’s easy to get carried away in the excitement and overpack. Here are our tips to help cut down on your luggage weight & save you money!

How to Pack Light for a Holiday

When packing for a holiday, it’s easy to get carried away in the excitement and over pack, but packing in an organised and thrifty way can save you space, time and money, helping you to get the most out of your travel.

Packing light means you can get away with taking only carryon luggage, reducing baggage fees and minimising the amount you need to carry. No one wants a sore back on holiday!

So how can you be a savvy packer and reduce your luggage?

Here are our top tips to avoid overpacking, help reduce your luggage weight and save you money!

Packing tips for women

The trick to packing lightly for women is to start packing early and create a packing list. Scrutinise your list carefully before placing any items in the suitcase and determine whether or not you truly need it while you’re away. If you’re unsure, leave it behind.

Other tips:
  • Selecting versatile items of clothing that can be worn for multiple activities, be it a stroll on the beach or cocktails in a wine bar.
  • Sticking to colours and patterns that mix well and can be layered easily. Often darker colours, such as navy and black, are your best bet.
  • Packing thin knits that are lightweight. Not only will your bag weigh less, but your clothes will also dry quickly should they get wet or you need to launder them.
  • Packing comfortable and practical footwear. Select just one pair of each style and steer clear of packing different heels for different outfits. Shoes bulk up your luggage very quickly.
  • Packing more accessories rather than more clothes. You can change an outfit’s look dramatically with a few simple accessory changes.
  • Choosing separates rather than dresses. A top can be teamed with a skirt at night but can be dressed down with a pair of shorts in the day.
  • Trying outfits on before you go. Know what things work well together and how things look before you head for the airport. You might not be lucky enough to have a full length mirror when you’re away and you want to be confident in what you are wearing.
  • Wearing bulky items on the day you travel. Jeans and sweaters aren’t the most comfortable items for a long plane journey, but by wearing them instead of packing them, you free up lots of room in your bag.
  • Packing a magazine rather than a 600 page novel.

Packing tips for men

Just like women, the trick to packing light for men is to pack early and to try things on. All too often, men throw an item into their suitcase only to find they have outgrown it, it’s stretched or it doesn’t match anything else they have packed. Get organised and pack smartly.

Other tips:
  • Packing a small number of items that are easy to hand wash. Paying for hotel dry cleaning is never fun, so make sure you can wash your clothes simply at night before hanging them to dry on the balcony.
  • Packing dark, plain colours that are acceptable for both day and night wear. Dark colours can look much more formal than light colours, plus they don’t show up the food stains!
  • Filling jacket pockets with items before hopping on a plane. It’s amazing how much room you can clear by stuffing a few pairs of socks in your jacket pockets.
  • Choosing shoes that aren’t overly formal but aren’t too casual either. If you don’t have a pair that fit the bill, choose just one pair of smart and one pair of casual.
  • Dividing items up into separate sections inside one suitcase. For example, gadgets can go in a small gadget bag or undies can be tucked into shoes.
  • Packing only what’s required in the toiletry bag. Remember, hotels will provide you with many of the basics.
  • Packing versatile items of clothing that can be worn for a variety of purposes.

Ways to pack and save space in your luggage

There are several ways in which you can pack that will instantly create added space in your luggage.

The Russian doll effect

The idea of Russian doll style packing is simple: group items together and pack into individual bags that can be tucked into each other. There are a few advantages to this approach, the first being that items are easy to locate once you are at your destination.

If it’s locating things that’s the key for you, then take it a step further and try packing items into different coloured cloth bags; red for pants, blue for tops and so on.
Another advantage to this method is the space saved within the suitcase. Just be careful not to pack too many bags that could end up weighing your suitcase down.


Rolling is a tried and tested method favoured by many travellers all over the world who believe that by rolling, you can dramatically reduce the amount of space taken up by your clothing and reduce wrinkles too.

All-in-one items

For toiletries, packing products such as all-in-one shampoo, conditioner and body wash reduces the amount of room taken up by individual bottles. Some moisturisers contain sunscreen and a smartphone can be used for calls, internet, camera, alarm and watch!

What space savers to use and how to use them

If you're serious about saving space, there's several space-saving items which will create even more room in your suitcase or backpack.

Compression Bags

When packing bulky items such as hoodies and jackets, compression bags can be your best friend. In some cases, the bulkiness of an item can be reduced by up to 75%! To use, simply place your clothing into the bag before sealing. Roll the bag towards the end that has the oneway valve to help remove the air. Air will continue to leave the bag, but once sealed, the airlocks will block any air from entering the bag.

Compression bags come in all different sizes and are ideal for people looking to save space in their luggage. While the effects on Tshirts won’t be as good as jackets and jumpers, you can still save a good amount of room once your clothing is sealed.

When to use:

Hikers, backpackers and skiers could all benefit from using compression bags when packing. For scuba divers, there are waterproof options available.

Ziploc & Vacuum Bags

Vacuum sealer systems work in a very similar way to compression bags, removing the air while blocking additional air from entering. Instead of rolling the bag, however, the bag is sealed using a specially designed heated seal bar. The heat creates an airtight seal that can’t be pulled apart, meaning the only way to open the bag is to cut it. The downside to this is that unless you want to take the seal bar with you, you won’t be able to use the system for the return trip.

When to use:

Travellers susceptible to getting moisture in their backpack or suitcase can benefit from using vacuum sealed bags. They are also ideal if you want to take food in your suitcase, protecting your clothes from getting any spills on them, while keeping the food fresher for longer.

Packing Cubes

The mini modular system of packing cubes helps to keep a suitcase organised and neat. Without packing cubes, you could spend all the time in the world carefully organising your items, but more often than not, your handiwork is undone once you arrive on your holiday. Clothes can very quickly get mixed back up again, but with packing cubes, items are kept separate, making unpacking much easier.

When to use:

If it’s organisation you’re after, then packing cubes are for you. They are also fantastic for those travelling with excess technology, keeping cables and charges in one handy location.

Packing lightly is a skill that can be developed over time.

The more you travel the more you will get a feel for what you need on your travels and what you don’t. You can also research how to pack for hot or cold climates.

Once you have it all figured out, not only will you get the most out of your luggage, but you’ll get the most from your holiday too!


Share now!

Fast Cover - Brooke

About the author

Brooke is the Operations Manager at Fast Cover who works tirelessly to keep everything running smoothly. From coding to customer service and everything in between, is there anything Brooke can't do? A baking enthusiast in her spare time, she has elevated the humble pavlova to new gourmet heights – much to the delight of the Fast Cover team.

Need affordable travel insurance?