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How to Pack Light – Girls Guide

Trying to figure out how to ditch that check-in bag? Look no further for a girls guide for travelling lighter with tips on clothes, shoes and make-up.

Girls, always wondered how to pack light? Lets set the scene – time-off approved, online shopping basket full, just about to book that holiday. It is officially travel season. Looks like you’re getting a great deal this year. 3 nights? 7 nights? 11 nights? Whatever it is – it’s a bargain. You’re pinching yourself…

“I don’t remember it being this cheap last year” you think to yourself.

Then it hits you. Like a brick wall… The bag! The bloody bag! You’re going to have to pay extra for that check-in bag……..both ways!

This year you’ve had enough though. No more paying out for nonsense (unless its a pair of fluffy unicorn socks with matching hairband – because lets face it, that is not nonsense!).

This is the Chinese year of the pig, and the year that you decide to take the plunge and travel with just carry-on. Is this real life? Who even are you?Well let me tell you who you’re going to be – because, after reading this post, you will be unstoppable. A force to be reckoned with. A woman changed forever…Or maybe you’ll just go “F**k that, I’m paying for the case!”

Either way, sit back, relax and enjoy the craic… Oh and keep on reading to see my top tips for how to pack light as a girl.

Please note that this is a guide to get the “heavy packers” down to carry-on luggage and is not a recommendation for a “backpackers” bag!

What to Pack in Carry-On Luggage?

The key here is to keep things basic and stop thinking like a girl. You need to embrace your inner fella and think simple. That being said, some logic and planning will go a long way so don’t go “full on” cave man.

Tip #1. Clothes

You don’t need all those clothes. No seriously you don’t!

When trying to decide what clothes to pack, put everything that you think you might want to bring into a pile. Try them all on and see what actually fits, because lets face it, those short shorts that you’re holding onto since your first girls trip to Magaluf 6 years ago are not gonna make the cut.

If there is anything that doesn’t fit, is out of shape or just looks “meh” chuck it into the no pile.

Now the fun starts… time to plan outfits based on what’s left. Some girls will love this part, getting high on the level of planning and organisation that awaits. Some will rather go for a bath in a swamp, but trust me it’s worth it!

With the exception of a dress, every other piece of clothing should “go” with at least 2 other things. If it doesn’t, chuck it…yeah I’m serious… chuck it!!

At this stage you’re probably still left with too many things, but that’s enough work for today. Come back in a few days time and try on everything again. Now it’s time to get serious, be ruthless…. Unless you’re name is Ruth (in that case you go girl).

You should aim to be left with a max of 4 tops, 3 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts, 2 long pants and 3 dresses. This will give you more than enough options, I promise!!

Tip #2. Cosmetics and Toiletries


I know this one is going to hurt some of you. Trying to decide what make-up to leave behind is like choosing your favourite child – impossible. But lets be honest, you will inevitably have a soft spot for one. Yes it will be hard to leave the rest behind, but you have to dig deep and find that strength within to pack light on this front. Like Whitney said: “There can be miracles, when you believe”.

This will require you to be more strict than you were with your clothes. Start with the bare essentials; foundation and mascara. Add one pallet, one lipstick, some concealer and bronzer, (these last two are optional depending on your norm) lashes (and glue) and something for some brow magic. Viola! it’s that simple.

Those of you that are determined to give it a go and try something simple like this will quickly see that you didn’t need to bring the 49 items that you once would have and might even embrace it for future trips. For those who think they will really struggle, try and set yourself a target of 10-15 items (with only one pallet). This will be more than enough, trust me!


A similar approach will be needed for toiletries – you do not need your full body exfoliation, face mask or bath bombs. All you need is some shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and face wash. Some deodorant, a little bit of moisturiser and a serum (if you wish) and you’re good to go.

Don’t overthink this – you do not need a 350ml bottle of shower gel that you wouldn’t use in 10 weeks never-mind 10 days. Put everything into 100ml bottles and away you go. You could even just buy your shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and deodorant out there and leave them behind you. This will save you space and weight – chin chin. Sorry *clears throat* – win win.

If you wanted to go for the full on shock factor you could just use the ones in your hotel, this will save you space and money and is the ultimate trick to help you pack light.

If you love the heat, (and I don’t mean from the sun or the fire) then you’re going to have to sacrifice – only one has a place in the case. One dries, one straightens and one curls, but which one will it be?

You could make the decision a bit easier on yourself and email your accommodation to see if they supply a drier. If so, happy days, then you only have to decide between two. Better yet, if you’re one of the gifted few who can curl with a straightener then you’ve got the best of both worlds. No decision, no compromise, just one champion – you!

Tip #3. Shoes

Your choice of shoes should depend on the activities you plan on doing during your trip. Lets face it, you’re not going to be packing the stilettos for a week in the mountains. If, like most people you plan on doing a mixture of things, then 3 pairs is plenty. Yes you heard me right, just 3 pairs.

If you’re like me you’ll want to get the most out of the holiday. You’ll want to have a few jam packed days exploring, a few relaxing days by the pool or the beach and finish every day with some sort of alcoholic beverage.

So here they are, the only 3 shoes you will need; runners (for walking and exploring), sandals or flip flops (for the water areas) and sandals or heels (for the wobbly walk home from the bars). To be honest you could even get away with just two if you were feeling like living life on the edge – a pair of runners and a pair of sandals.

You won’t need more than that unless you’re on a trip for a specific activity like skiing. In that case, swapping your sandals for insulated boots is not going to cause you to lose too much sleep.

Whatever you do, do not underestimate the value of your runners. They (like me) will be your savior, because lets face it, walking around all day and night in flat, unsupported sandals will leave you feeling like you’re walking on burning Lego by day 2.

Runners are also going to be your best friend on the airport days. Yes your feet will probably be smelly and sweaty by the time you land, but lets not beat around the bush here, the rest of you is not exactly going to be smelling of roses either. So lob them on, enjoy your new-found comfort and embrace the stank.

An added bonus: Runners are most likely going to be the heaviest pair of shoes you bring, so its a no-brainer to wear them on your feet instead of lugging them around in your luggage.

My Packing Guide

  • 4 tops
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 long pants
  • 3 dresses
  • Jacket/cardigan/shawl
  • Shampoo, conditioner & shower gel
  • Deodorant
  • Face wash & moisturiser
  • Foundation
  • Mascara
  • Eye shadow pallet
  • Lipstick
  • Hairdryer/straightener/curler
  • Runners/Trainers
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Heels (optional)
  • Big(ish) handbag – for the plane
  • Small handbag/clutch bag – for day to day use
  • Sun cream & after sun lotion
  • Book
  • Headphones

Don’t Forget:
If it doesn’t fit, chuck it.
If it doesn’t look good at home it’s definitely not going to look good out there.
You don’t need all that make-up or all those shoes.

Top Tip:
Pack the big, awkward, heavy things like your hairdryer, straightener, shoes and toiletries in your big handbag. This means your case will be easy to close and won’t be overweight!

Standing in line to check in your bag is no craic, so pack light to save yourself the time and money and go carry on.

What are your travel essentials and tips to pack light? Leave us a comment below 🙂

Now that you’re able to pack a bit lighter, find out about our Top 5 Apps For Backpackers.

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