How to pack for a four week holiday away

how to pack for a four week holiday vacation
how to pack for a four week holiday vacation

In just two days Luke and I will be hopping on a plane for a long-awaited holiday travelling around Italy and the US. To say I’m excited is an understatement; it’s been a good four years since I’ve travelled beyond Australia or New Zealand, so this trip away has definitely been a long time coming.

We are spending just shy of four weeks abroad, and it probably comes as little surprise that one of my biggest concerns is: what do I pack? Or perhaps more importantly, how much should I pack?

I’m definitely not planning on being as optimistic as the time I took a mere 13 items away with me for a six week holiday (let’s just say that a lot of shopping was necessary), but I also don’t want to overpack. While I might not be planning on doing much shopping, if at all, the last thing I want is to be standing at the airline counter worrying about whether my bag is going to be a lot heavier than it should be.

I’ve had the good fortune of taking a number of extended vacations in the past ranging anywhere from 3-6 weeks away, so I wanted to share some of my top tips for packing your suitcase like a pro for a long trip abroad…

Let’s start from the very beginning. It’s counterproductive – to say the least – to not have some semblance of what kind of weather you’ll be facing once you reach your final destination. I recommend adding all the cities you’ll be travelling to your phone’s weather app so you can keep an eye on the weather trends in the lead up to your trip. This will help you to plan and map out exactly what types of clothing you’ll need to bring with you, and help you to avoid any situations where you find yourself without a jacket or a pair of shorts right when you need them.

Will you be spending most of your time by the pool? Sightseeing? At the shops? Hiking through the bush?

Before you actually start packing your bag, thinking about how you will be spending your time. If you’re by the pool most days you’ll want to make sure to bring at least a couple of swimsuits with you. If you’re planning on going on the occasional hike, pack some leggings, a loose fitting singlet and some sneakers to get you by. A little like how I would plan my capsule wardrobes, I’ll get a broad idea of what my holiday will entail and then pack accordingly.

A while back, I stumbled across this packing concept on A Pair & a Spare, and I have to say, I think that the inverted triangle concept works perfectly for anything from a week to an entire month (or more!) away. What I love about this concept is that it helps you to maximize your options, while increasing the functionality of what you’ve packed away in your suitcase for your trip.

This means packing more tops than bottoms, more bottoms than dresses and shoes, more dresses and shoes than swimsuits and bags, and more swimsuits and bags than other accessories (think hats, sunglasses and watches). Trust me when I say, this, works. As you’ll spy from my own ‘packing list’ below, I’ve adapted it for the length of my holiday.

When I’m mapping out my vacation packing list, I always find it easiest to start with the basics; pieces like a staple pair of jeans, lightweight tees, a loose sweater, a comfortable pair of shoes and a light jacket. By approaching packing this way, I can plan the rest of my holiday wardrobe around those essential key pieces that I’ll be reaching for first, more often than not.

I find that this is also a great time to start planning your travel outfit. I tend to work in layers to make sure that I’m not doubling up (while making the most of my precious suitcase space), and I’ll always pack an outfit to change into for when I land.

Next, I’ll start to build in items that are seasonally appropriate; if you’re travelling to a country that is in the throes of winter, you’ll be packing things like chunky knit sweaters, sturdy leather boots and an oversized scarf. At the opposite end of the spectrum, for a summer vacay you’ll want to bring along denim shorts, pretty sun dresses, swimsuits, and a pair of sandals.

This is also where I’ll think about any statement pieces that I want to bring with me, and work it around the theme and colour palette which has organically presented during this process.

And if there’s one thing I can’t recommend enough, it’s to make sure that you pack at least one nice going out dress. Even if all you have planned is a week sitting by the pool, you never know what’s going to happen when you’re on holiday and I figure it always pays to be prepared.

You all know I’m addicted to shoes, through and through, so I find this the hardest part of packing for any holiday. For four weeks away, I’d typically pack about 5 pairs of shoes – this gives you enough options so you won’t get bored, and you can switch up your footwear if you start getting even a hint of a blister.

Take the time to also think about how many bags you’ll need; will you need an evening bag for going out? Do you want to take a small crossbody for exploring? And also whether you’ll be bringing along any jewellery, scarves, sunglasses or hats. I try to keep these to a minimum where possible – accessories (and my travel beauty kit) tend to weigh down my bag the most!

This is one of the more fun parts of packing… trying everything on! I like to have a few go to looks that I can just throw on; my main focus while travelling is to get out and explore, so I don’t want to be stuck in my hotel room fussing over what I’m going to wear. Take a couple of photos so that you can then refer back to the ‘looks’ while you’re travelling.

As someone who used to travel with just a bronzer, eyeliner and mascara, I know all too well how much a bulging make up bag can weigh you down. Where possible, pack multi purpose products – like a cream blusher you can also use as a lipstick – and try to narrow it all down to the bare essentials. My weak spot is hands down eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks – I always have a hard time trying to settle on my absolute essentials for a trip ahead.

One tip; bring along a bold red lipstick – it’s one of the few beauty products that I can’t leave behind and easily dresses up even the simplest of looks.

The final thing to organize – aside from your passport, itinerary and currency, of course – is your tech. I always tend to travel a little tech heavy; as someone who shares part of their life online, it’s hard to avoid. I find that the best way to narrow it down is think about what you can’t live without, and pack accordingly. Also, don’t forget to make sure that you’ve picked up the necessary plug converters for your final destination – that’s something that you definitely don’t want to forget.

As you’ll see from my own packing list below, I’ve kept things p-r-e-t-t-y neutral colour wise, adding in a bit of colour with my accessories.

Obviously there’s the odd piece missing, like my Nike Roshe Runs, my gym gear, and a couple of samples that I’ll be shooting while I’m away, but for the most part, this is everything that is coming along for the ride with me. The one thing that I couldn’t manage to cut down? Shoes. Let’s just pretend that there aren’t seven pairs of shoes sneakily stuffed into my suitcase. I guess we all have a weakness….

My Long Haul In-Flight Travel Uniform

When it comes to long haul flights, comfort is king. Trust me, I’ve made the mistake of wearing a pair of tight fitting jeans on a 26-hour journey only to very quickly come to regret my decision.

This time around, I’m keeping things simple, and tying in what I wear on the plane, with pieces that I know I’ll wear while I’m away. For me this means…

A comfortable pair of leggings in a neutral shade – perfect for travel days and also great for hiking or if you can manage to squeeze in the odd run (which I’m definitely hoping to do!).

A loose fitting long sleeved striped tee (my favourites are from T by Alexander Wang) – one of my travel essentials (it’ll go with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g) and perfect for those cooler days, which I’m anticipating we’ll probably have in San Fran.

A super soft knit sweater – no matter the weather, this is worth it even if it’ll only get worn on the plane. I find it’s great to have something plain just in case it gets cool when you’re heading out in the evening.

A pair of trainers – if there’s one thing you’re probably going to be doing a lot of when you’re away on holiday, it’s walking. Usually a pair of trainers – if you have Nike Roshe Runs like me – can take up a lot of suitcase space, but they’re also typically one of the more comfortable pairs of shoes you’ll have with you.

A scarf or shawl wrap – planes get cold, and usually I find that the blanket the air hostesses provide you with just isn’t enough. I’ll always bring along a scarf or a shawl to double as a second blanket while on the plane, and as a scarf or cover up when at my final destination. This is a great piece to bring with you as depending on your destination, there can be cultural sensitivities and requirements at local temples, churches and the like, so it’s useful to have something to hand that you can whip out in those situations.

An oversized tote bag – I’m always the girl with a carryon suitcase and a bulging tote bag on my shoulder. I find it’s the perfect companion for all your in-flight essentials (think books, laptops, ipods, and beauty essentials) and doubles as an everyday bag while you’re on your holiday.

Lastly, if there’s one thing that I’ve learnt, it’s how essential travelling with a spare change of clothes in your carry on is. After spending 25+ hours travelling, the first thing I want to do is shower, and put on a fresh change of clothes; it’s one of those little rituals I have that makes me feel re-energised, especially in situations when going straight from the plane to sightseeing.

Do you have an in-flight travel uniform?

My newest 5PFW addition

sophia webster loren sandals
sophia webster loren sandals

Sophia Webster loren sandals (I love the ballet flats version and I’m also completely smitten with this style!)

It’s little secret that I have a soft spot for shoes. When it comes to any kind go embellishment, I’m basically sold, and these beaded beauties from Sophia Webster were no exception. These are a far cry from the A.T.P Atelier heeled sandals I’d had my eye on, but they struck me as such a special shoe and when I cast my eyes on them, I just couldn’t say no.

I’ve got a little over a month left on my 5PFW Challenge and this marks my fourth key wardrobe addition since February. There’s one more purchase that I’ve been planning – the Louis Vuitton’s ’twice’ bag – but as I’ll be spending most of July travelling, I think it’s one of those things that will have to wait.

I will admit, I’m looking forward to the freedom of having less structure around my purchases for the season; as a girl who does love to indulge in the odd spot of shopping every now and then, this is still every much as bit of a challenge as it was when I first put myself to the shopping test – French style – last year. And I know exactly where I’m likely to start as soon as freedom sets in, because it’s all about that fancy footwork…

The best of Everlane

everlane review
everlane review
everlane review
everlane review
everlane review

It’s been a good two and a half years or more since I first started talking about Everlane on Mademoiselle that they have to be doing something right. With campaigns that are minimal at heart, to their clean cut and quality design, upfront transparency and no frills approach, there’s little question as to what that might be.

My wardrobe is founded on the basics, and a good proportion of that comes from Everlane. I’ve been sharing my experiences (and reviews) with the brand and thought that a little reflection might be useful for those of you contemplating your first order, or planning to purchase something new.

While I promise that an updated Everlane review is most certainly in the works, I thought I’d share some of the hits and misses that I’ve picked up over the years.

There’s a lot that I love from Everlane; not a capsule wardrobe has gone by that I haven’t included one of their silky tanks or super-soft cashmere sweaters, so I’m going to try and narrow it down to the bare essentials.

The silk cami OR the silk tank – Sorry, I couldn’t narrow it down, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have both (unless you want to, which then by all means, go for it!). These have worn really well, can be washed gently, and are great essentials when entering the workforce (bearing in mind that cami’s or sleeveless tanks might not be appropriate in all offices). I’ve purchased multiples of each style as they’re an incredibly easy piece to throw on. The quality of the silk is lovely – nice and thick, and not sheer at all (the same can’t be said for the blush shade, though!), and I believe both styles are universally flattering. The silk cami runs on the large side so I’d recommend sizing down, whereas the silk tank you have a little more freedom depending on how loose you like your tanks to fit. Personally, I went for the S, although I’m pretty certain the XS would have fit perfectly too.

The silk blouse – When I first heard of Everlane, it was because of their silk shirts. It was a combination of the affordable price point, quality, and online claims that it was a great alternative to Equipment (which as much as I love my Equipment blouses, I think we can all agree isn’t exactly affordable…) that really sold me enough to take the plunge. The quality is almost on par with Equipment, although the style and sizing differs; no pockets on the bust, a closer cut fit, and shorter through the body and the sleeve. As someone who often spills on her silk blouses, I’m of the opinion that there’s no reason not to opt for Everlane over Equipment. Again, avoid the blush silk option at all costs. It’s sheer, and I found that the shade completely washed me out. Also, sizing wise, these fit true to size, for a slightly loose fit through the body.

The cashmere sweater – I’d almost go so far to say that I live in Everlane’s cashmere in the winter time. Super snuggly and soft, the crew neck version is such a classic style that seems to go with everything; a must when you’re trying to maximize your morning sleep ins. The quality definitely surpasses any other cashmere piece I’ve come across – to date – at this price, and while you will notice some wear and tear over time, I’d like to think that mine still look like they’re in pretty good nick. I handwash mine or pop it in a delicates bag on a cold cycle; the shape is still completely intact although I’d say that there’s been a small amount of shrinkage, mostly in the sleeves, which in my books is enough to recommend purchasing your usual size. Definitely a staple I can’t bear to be without.

The trench coat – There isn’t a wardrobe essentials guide out there on the internet that doesn’t include a classic trench among the must haves that you should have in your closet. Everlane’s has that Burberry-esque look, without the tartan, and the $1,000+ price tag, although at $150 USD it’s still definitely what I’d consider an investment. I think the quality of this is great; the cotton really is water-resistant (tried and tested!), and it makes the perfect transitional jacket when it’s not yet cool enough to opt for a winter coat. I love to wear mine buttoned up with a bow at the waist, with a Parisian inspired stripe dress underneath. My only complaint? The body of the jacket isn’t lined, which for the price, I would expect this little detail to be included. The sizing is on the larger side for this style; I picked this up in a size S although if I had my time over I’d purchase it in the XS.

The modern point loafer – I picked these up during a week of international shipping last year, after they had spent months sitting in my wishlist. If there’s anything that I can promise you, it’s that Everlane does shoes very, very well. The style is on point, the leather is thick and sturdy (if not a little stiff), and the quality is excellent. These have been a mainstay of my autumn/winter wardrobe; a modern take on the classic penny loafer. Sizing runs small; I’m an EU40 and opted for the US9 and wish I’d gone for the US9.5 – breaking them in was a b*tch so do yourself a favor and size up half a size. Your feet will thank me for it.

I also have an incredibly soft spot for their linen; it’s semi-sheer, super soft, and easy to care for. Oh, and runs a size large, for those curious!

There isn’t much that I won’t be buying again. The purchases I’ve made, have been for the large part, to the quality and standard that I’d expected. Mostly, I bought a little on the large side (the perils of online shopping with no returns!), but there was the odd piece which came across as far less lackluster than I’d anticipated.

The boyfriend sweater – In theory, I loved this sweater. The perfect cut; not too slouchy, not too long through the body, and not too thick. But this washed t-e-r-r-i-b-l-y. I ordered this in the XS in black and grey (and I highly recommend sizing down for this style) and I’m not sure if it was the temperature of the water I washed it in, or just the quality of the cotton itself, but after a few washes both sweaters looked like I’d had them at least a year, which was disappointing to say the least. I also think it’s fair to say that my style has evolved since I first purchased them, and a cotton sweatshirt isn’t something that I’d often reach for. So, for those reasons, this isn’t a piece that I will be choosing to repurchase, unless I’m looking to pick up some snuggly wintertime pjs (because honestly, isn’t that what all sweatshirts eventually become?).

The ryan muscle tank – While this was something I wore a lot over the summer, this is just one of those things that I wouldn’t consider repurchasing, even though it’ll only set you back a week’s worth of coffee. This is quite a sheer tank (much more so than I’d anticipated), so it isn’t one you’re going to want to wear to the office, but perhaps most disappointing was the quality of it. Mine ended up with a small hole after the second wash, and a couple more since, the most discerning of which is at the collar. For the record, I’ve always washed mine in a delicates bag on a cool setting which would suggest to me the only way to avoid holes is to handwash this tank, which for an everyday basic piece, is something I wouldn’t expect that you would need to do.

The collarless silk blouse – I have to admit, this isn’t a style that I’ve given much of a shot. I ordered this in the ivory about two years ago, and found that unlike the collared silk blouses which are true to size, these ran small. The fabric gaped at the bust – and I’m by no means busty – the fit was slightly off, and the ivory silk was far too sheer for my liking.

The wool coatigan – As much as I love the fit and the length of Everlane’s wool coatigan (I have it in black!), unfortunately this was one of the few things which just hasn’t worn well at all. As you can see from this blog post, the coatigan is a ribbed wool, which looks absolutely beautiful when brand new, but after a week of wear, I found that the merino had rubbed to the point of becoming fluffy, and the sleeves were pilling quite badly. I really do hate to say this about anything from Everlane, given how much I love the brand, but this just really hasn’t worked out. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been wearing this every. single. day. But it just hasn’t worn how I’d expected. I have used a de-piller to remove the pilling on the sleeves and the fuzz from the whole coatigan though it’s fair to say it’s never looked anywhere quite as good as when I first received it.

So, there you have it. For a brand that I’ve bought every piece sight unseen, I’ve had more hits than misses, and overall have found the quality to be consistent, and I’ve been incredibly impressed by their overall ethos, which is part of what keeps me going back (that and the great clothes, of course!). If there’s one piece that I would wholeheartedly recommend above all else, it’s the cashmere sweater. I continue to get compliments on mine and the quality far surpasses what I ever would have dreamed. Definitely an 11/10.

I’d love to know about your own experiences and if there’s anything that I’ve missed, that you think is worth – or not worth – picking up. I for one am really looking forward to a couple of their upcoming launches, and eventually pulling the trigger (read: splurging) on the petra crossbody in black. Heart eyed emojis all round.