When an opportunity arises for a quick getaway to a European city or a French island, I get my packing done in under 30 minutes. This means less whine-time at home and more wine-time en vacance.
A 7kg carry-on bag is your best friend

Less is so much more when it comes to travelling.  I don't skimp on taking anything I want and yet always have space for a few little luxuries. Apart from longer trips requiring more substantial clothing, I rarely check in any luggage, either. I hate waiting at luggage carousels! 

Top tips for minimal travel packing

  1. Know the difference between what you want to take with you, and what you actually need. Ask yourself : What will I realistically wear by day v. at night? Could I hand wash my smalls each night and therefore pack fewer? Do I need three swimsuits or will one be enough? 
  2. Preparation and planning are key : for example, a ready-to-go, fully stocked toiletry bag that you can throw in without thinking, and a travel wallet containing passport, itinerary and ID ready to go. 
  3. Choose a main colour you'll wear the whole time you're away, eg white or peach for summer, navy or black for winter. It’s so much simpler to accessorise when your options are finite. 
  4. Make every item do double - or triple - duty. For example, why pack two jackets when one versatile trench coat might do for both day and night? 
  5. Try packing a bag smaller than what you are used to, and experiment with removing what you don’t need until everything fits. 
  6. Think about miniature versions of everything. I love Uniqlos rain jackets and lightweight down jackets packed into tiny drawstring pouches, and a hand-sized umbrella that fits inside my cross-body handbag. 
  7. Pack the absolute essentials straight in your suitcase, then allow other pieces to join them, depending on whether they can do double duty and will actually be needed. They're occupying valuable suitcase real estate.


      1.  Bandoulière (cross-body) handbag
      • For sightseeing by day, wear it slung over you cross-body style, then detach the strap to transform it into a clutch for night.
      • Mine is petite but still fits a tiny umbrella, Uniqlo raincoat-in-a-pouch, wallet, lip balm, passport, iPhone and keys!
          2.  White Adidas tennis sneakers
          • Timeless and chic for both winter and summer, and comfortable enough to explore acres of that beautiful new city you're in.
          • I walked 13 kilometres the first day I visited Prague and these sneakers took me through the whole day in comfort!
              3.  Dressy flat sandals
              • Don't bother packing heels unless you've really got to - they’re heavy and awkward to pack.
              • Buy a pair of jewelled flat sandals that are comfortable enough for smart day wear. I’ve worn mine traipsing all over cobblestoned laneways in my day-to-day life in Paris many times.
              • Pair with a long flowing dress or skirt, skinny jeans or cigarette pants for evening.
                  4.  Birkenstocks
                  • Comfy like sneakers, you can walk for hours and never get sore feet.
                  • Wonderful for beach trips and summertime visits to cobblestoned European cities.
                  • Double duty tip : if you buy a pair with an embossed print or pretty pattern, they can be paired with understated evening wear, knee-length dresses and tailored shorts.
                  5.  Flat boots
                  • For winter, I can't go past my black Belstaff knee-length boots that get me through puddles, rain, snow and ice and still keep my toes cosy and comfortable!
                  • Make sure they your boots are flat as well as comfortable so you can walk as long as your heart desires.
                  6.  Scarf
                  • The quintessential French staple.  You are simply naked without one.
                  • Pack one in a colour or pattern that will accessorise with the clothes you're taking.
                  • Double duty tip : it doubles as a sarong in summer or shawl in cooler weather.
                  7.  Headwear
                  • Buy a crushable hat that can preferably withstand being packed in your suitcase.  O simply wear it on your head on the flight.
                  • I own just three - a summer Panama hat, a black felt fedora for winter, and a sports cap for running.
                  8.  Jewellery
                  • Keep it minimal and simple. I permanently wear diamond stud earrings and a simple diamond ring.  I add a watch during the day.  
                  • When I travel, I accessorise with just one statement piece like a bracelet or necklace, so I never have to store valuables in a hotel room safe.
                    9.  Little luxuries
                    Make your hotel room a haven away from home with :
                    • a travel-sized scented candle (take care as always with naked flames).
                    • a silk eye mask and ear plugs, to guarantee a peaceful slumber.
                    • a travel-sized bottle of your favourite fragrance (for me it's always Chanel).
                    • your own tea, because hotels don't seem to realise that mornings simply can't start without a cup of Mariage Frères Paris Breakfast Tea. 
                    10.  RECORD YOUR ADVENTURES
                    • I use my iPhone to take photos and use Google Maps to store 'favourite' or 'want to go to' restaurants and shops.
                    • A travel journal is a little indulgent, as it occupies valuable suitcase real estate, but for me is worth it as it prompts me to write creatively about my adventures and has extra space to keep meaningful souvenirs.
                       11.  Toiletries
                      • You don't need a massive toiletries bag full of everything you have at home.
                      • I have two separate pouches stocked and ready to go : a waterproof pouch with mini accessories like hairbrush, toothbrush, mascara, bandaids and painkillers; and a separate clear plastic, customs-friendly pouch containing 100ml or less-sized bottles of moisturiser, shampoo, deodorant, perfume and toothpaste.
                      • When it comes time to pack for travel, you can just throw them in your bag without a second thought.
                      • I don’t pack a hairdryer or straightener but I’ll use one in a hotel room if I feel like it.
                         12.  A good book
                        • Take a paperback book for air travel that you know for sure is interesting enough to actually read and not just take up luggage space.
                        • Resist the urge to buy magazines at the airport.
                        • Pack earplugs in case you need to drown out noisy babies or inebriated passengers so you can read in peace!

                        Happy travels | Bon voyage

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