When is a Holdall not a Holdall?

I’m not complaining, really I’m not. The initial excitement at the suggestion of a mini break for two, sans kids, is still very much there now it’s all booked and we’re about to go. From the outset it had all the right ingredients for a romantic getaway; private villa with pool, dates during term time, cheap short haul flights. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been away as part of a couple and once the all important issue of childcare was arranged (thanks Mum) I immediately started to look forward to the quality time away with my man.


Next bralet £20

And then it happened. Logistics had come up in conversation and the dreaded statement that no self-respecting woman with eyes bigger than her wardrobe wants to hear:

Hand Luggage Only.

I know.

Apparently, time was of the essence, we had a hire car to pick up and it was only four nights after all so naturally we didn’t need to put anything in the hold. I laughed. He must be joking, he knew full well that I would have far too much stuff to be housed in a mere holdall. His expression didn’t change. He reiterated that we were only going for three full days and a large portion of those days would be spent in swimwear so a holdall was perfectly adequate. I laughed again, added a “Yeah right!!” and pointed out that three days meant six outfits – three for day and three for evening – and therefore at least two pairs of shoes not counting the ones I would wear on the ‘plane. He then ran through what he would be packing. I couldn’t possibly detail what this included as I wasn’t listening due to it having absolutely no relevance to me. I made some wise crack about having to wear half of my outfits onto the plane (although there is no way to wear more than one pair of shoes – I’ve tried) but still his expression didn’t alter. He wasn’t bloody joking after all.


Zara sandals £39.99

I briefly wondered if this relationship was going to work out. However, since this particular man is as particular about his clothes as I am, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt; his manly practical side had got the better of him.

In short, tomorrow we will be flying to Spain, Hand Luggage Only.

Now, obviously we haven’t left yet and I haven’t even started to pack but I have been on the Easyjet website to see if by any chance they have increased their cabin bag allowance to something akin to the size of a trunk. They haven’t. I have also considered buying up the entire Basics lycra range at H&M in one colour so everything will match, can be rolled up and will arrive crease free. Oh yes, there’s been a lot of procrastinating and one minor setback when I discovered the one dress I’d definitely take with me had enjoyed itself so much on holiday with my sister in Abu Dhabi that it decided to stay there after she left.*

Well tonight, let me assure you, there’s going to be action. Here is my plan of attack:

1. First and foremost, check the dimensions of holdall. Easyjet specify 50x40x20cms. Easyjet is clearly run by men.

2. Pick out three shortish dresses in similar colours for evening and take neutral strappy heels that will go with all three. My mum always tells me not to waste space taking heels on a beachy holiday as “it’s all very casual in that kind of place” but that’s a massive assumption and would make me very uneasy. Never travel without at least one pair of heels.


Zara heels £29.99 – these will go with anything

3. Decant shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser and night cream into small 100ml plastic containers. Or even better, use up the many free sachets torn from magazines over the years, now that really is a space saver. We’ve already agreed he’ll take the toothpaste. Sun cream is a duty free purchase.

4. Choose three t-shirts/vests and three pairs of shorts/skirts in the same colour pallet as the dresses – if you know which ‘season’ you are this is a huge help with packing as all pieces will complement each other. Remove your least favourites. You never need as many boring tops and bottoms as you think you do.

5. My gradual tanner isn’t working fast enough and after two weeks of daily application my skin still has a blue-ish tinge with the exception of the tops of my shoulders which friend Erica let me burn in a pub garden last weekend. Apply generous amount of Fake Bake to legs and hope for best as it develops during work shift before flight. At least legs will be hidden under desk.

You gotta roll with it

You gotta roll with it…

6. Flip-flops or gladiators take up minimal space and go with almost anything on a sun holiday. With the heels and the pair you’re wearing you have a choice of three pairs for three days. Add underwear and a couple of bikinis and you’re done.

It’s actually not that difficult if you have the time to focus on it. If everything you pack can be mixed and matched then you’re onto a winner. And the bonus is you’re unlikely to lose your bag if it’s in the cabin with you. Unlike my poor friend Marisa who arrived in the Caribbean about to turn 40, in the early stages of pregnancy, with a toddler in tow but none of her clothes. She spent the first week wearing her dad’s stuff. No, I’m thinking hand luggage is the way to go… but if you see someone rushing through Gatwick North wearing three pairs of shoes, that’ll be me.


Oasis dress £48 – Not THE green dress but still lovely

*The favourite green dress made it back in time and is very excited to be jetting straight off again.  

About aftercarrie

I help people refine their wardrobe to suit their shape, colouring and lifestyle. I am a style consultant, personal shopper and colour analyst working in London. Be the loveliest possible you. My first book SHOPPED was released on 5th July 2016 (September Publishing). www.emilystott.net
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14 Responses to When is a Holdall not a Holdall?

  1. The green dress is lovely and will fit well into a capsule wardrobe. I bring one pair of dress shoes and one pair of walking shoes, both which go with my capsule. The capsule usually has 4 tops, 2 bottoms, 2 sweaters, and a dress. I’ll throw in a skort for hiking.
    100ml is overkill for a lot of products. Moisturizers, liquid foundations, face serum, etc. will all fit in 30 ml bottles. That leaves more room for the other products.


    • aftercarrie says:

      Yes you’re absolutely right about the 100ml not being necessary. I had the airport restrictions on my brain when I wrote that! I’ve actually managed to find freebie sachets from the most incredibly luxury brands that I’d never be able to afford so feeling very pleased with myself.


  2. Style. Universe. Everything. says:

    I know this difficult situation oh too well! You seem to have a good strategy. I’ve never thought about packing heels like those Zara ones and packing them. I usually wear my heels on the plane (a horrible way to travel!), but that style you’ve chosen would take up virtually no room in a small bag. I need to go shopping!

    When I go away with hand luggage only, I usually end up using half of my partner’s bag too: He’s definitely a keeper!


    • aftercarrie says:

      Oh yes now that IS a good man! It has occurred to me there is his bag for ‘overflow’. Because otherwise what happens on the return journey if I’ve been shopping while away?!


  3. Penny says:

    I can hardly believe you’ve manage it ! Impressed friends recently by travelling with hand baggage for a week’s skiing, no high heels necessary . But had to wear all my ski gear on journey. Not a good look . Mum x


    • aftercarrie says:

      Gosh yes hand luggage only for what is essentially clothing made of duvets is far more of a challenge! Less call for waxing and fake tanning on the plus side… x


  4. Roma says:

    Seems to me that it’s the way forward Ems! Have an amazing time. xxx


    • aftercarrie says:

      Thanks Roma! Although of course your blueprint for turning up at the airport completely luggage free and then buying everything in Duty Free is really what I aspire to… Xx


  5. Val says:

    Brilliant piece Emmie! I was laughing out loud at it! Love the sound of your boyfriend ….insisting on hand luggage only. Have a wonderful time, xxxxx


  6. jackiemallon says:

    What is it with men? Mine too never wants to wait for luggage. I have become a much lighter traveller (but through gritted teeth). However, I was just commenting this week how much I miss those European jaunts to other countries with flights available for 30 or 40 pounds. Oh, Ryanair, all is forgiven. Nothing like that over here. Every flight costs hundreds of $.
    You could be in Portugal one month and Poland the next…jealous!


    • aftercarrie says:

      As it turned out, my bag was smaller than his and I’m quite sure I had many more outfits. Strange… he couldn’t believe it when he saw my deflated looking bag, was worried I would run out (as if)!


  7. Oh my, you definitely have to “roll with it” when put in such a “packing predicament”…
    loved reading that the green dress made it back in time for your trip…
    seems versatile pieces always have the best adventures!!~ ♥


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