How to pack light and avoid checking in your case

When you are heading off for a short break, you don’t want to be taking a lot of luggage with you, especially as this is likely to lead to pricey checked luggage charges.  I am terrible for taking too much with me and no matter how hard I try to scale my luggage down, it’s always a close call.

I headed to Malta and Berlin this year for 3 and 2 night breaks respectively.  I decided to challenge myself to taking hand luggage only.  At the beginning, my only concern was the weight limit……how to scale down my 20kg load to just 10kg.  That actually turned out to be the easy part!  What I found really tough was only being able to take a single 20 x 20 cm bag for all liquids.  I took facial scrub, cleanser, various moisturisers, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, contact lens fluid, toothpastes, sun lotion, foundation, mascara, eye liner……you get the picture (quite literally….below)!

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I am pleased to say that I managed, comfortably, to pack light for my break in Malta and Berlin and it was liberating to be able to head straight to security rather than stand in the check-in line.  It was even sweeter to walk out of the airport the other end without waiting for my bag to make an appearance on the carousel.

I thought it would be useful to give my top tips on packing light to save you time and money.  Just be mindful that you could actually arrive at the airport and be asked to check your bag in and so take a padlock with you just in case or if you forget and happen to have a hair band or elastic band, these come in useful as ties (potentially more secure as they can’t be tampered with as easily).

My top 5 tips

  • It starts with the case.  Invest in a lightweight case which takes your little finger alone to lift it.  We used the IT case.
  • Make a list of what you want to take and then think about what you need to take.  Take a second look at everything.  Do you need to take a full bottle of shampoo for 3 nights?  What does your hotel already provide?  Do you need 3 pairs of shoes?  Everything can be scaled down!
  • Be creative – I used a spare contact lens case for my cleanser which continued to last long after I got home; I can safely say that it would have lasted 14 nights (morning and night use).  Think about using sample sachets of body lotion and conditioner and samples of perfume (which lasted more than my 3 night stay).
  • Packing light means packing light clothing.  I took lightweight dresses which didn’t crease for the evening……better than heavy jeans.  I appreciate my sunny destinations helped with the light weight packing but even in Iceland a couple of years ago where it was very cold, I could pack a light dress and tights for the evening and I was already wearing my heavy coat to the airport which I would have worn over the dress.  Men could pack linen trousers as an alternative or, if jeans are a must, find some light weight ones.  You can always wear your heavier items!
  • Plan your wardrobe.  Usually, I just pack a lot of things and decide what to wear when I arrive.  For these short trips, I planned out everything, making sure I took items which I could mix and match.  Use a particular colour palette to make this easier.  It’s tedious I know but it will mean you don’t waste your valuable packing space, leaving room for souvenirs (non-liquid ones of course unless you have room for a small one in your 20x 20 cm bag!).  It also means you get dressed more quickly as you have already decided what you are going to wear!

Toni Sharp

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Holidays in Transit

How do you travel to your holiday destination?  Car, boat, bus, train, plane…..?  Well how about you choose one of those methods of transport as your accommodation too!  We have picked some interesting places for you to stay on your travels:

For plane enthusiasts there could be no better option than Airplane Suites in Amsterdam.  A well travelled 1960s plane has been converted into a hotel suite strictly for 2 people.  It has a double bedroom, bathroom (with a Jacuzzi and an infrared sauna!), kitchen, living space, free Wi-Fi and air conditioning and prices start from just £125 per night.

Airplane Suites

Off to Paris on the Eurostar and love trains?  Spend the night before at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London.  This elegant 5* hotel was restored in time for its grand reopening in 2011 and hosts The Chambers Suites, a luxury collection of suites with some dazzling touches.  We particularly like the junior suites which have views onto the platform although if you would like luxury on a budget, you can choose to stay in a King/Queen room from just £189 per night (including a Friday in August!).

St Pancras Renaissance

You may be more at home on the water and if you’re a fan of the Beatles or you just like something a little different, the Yellow Submarine in Liverpool may be for you.  Décor from around the world comes together to create this unique floating hotel which even has a bedroom based on the suite at the 7* Burj Al Arab in Dubai.  The Yellow Submarine would suit 5-6 people and start from around £175 per night.

Yellow Submarine

Alternatively, if you would like a positive sinking feeling, try an actual submarine.  From £87,500 per person per night (not a mistake!), Lovers Deep departs from a Caribbean Island of your choice and offers a Butler service, an aphrodisiac tasting menu and even optional rose petals and a Barry White soundtrack for those of you who can’t get enough.

Lovers Deep

And one for the future, Japan’s Cruise train, the JR East, is set to start running in Spring 2017.  Looking at the plans and photo mock up, you could be fooled into thinking this is a plush hotel and not a carriage on rails which will be moving at speed.

 Dining car

Luxury in Cyprus

We are very pleased to announce that we are working in partnership with Villa Escapes which has a collection of luxury villas in Cyprus all with private pools.  Sleeping between 6 to 8 guests, each villa has been beautifully furnished and well equipped to ensure guests have a luxurious and hassle free holiday.

Oceanblue has stunning sea views and has its own outdoor barbecue area and bar.  Comprising 4 spacious en-suite rooms, this villa sleeps up to 8 people and is perfect for that special family break away of for those on honeymoon.

oceanblue

Fotini is situated in the smart gated development of Greco Mare and boasts fabulous sea views and is only 5 minutes away from the nearest beach.  This villa can accommodate up to 6 people and, being located near to Konnos beach, is ideal for those who enjoy water sports.

fotini

Villa Jasmine has an enclosed garden granting privacy to its guests and making it ideal for families.  This modern villa with beautifully presented grounds is located near to beaches, shops, bars and restaurants and so ideal if you want to completely relax.

jasmine

 For further details or to book, please contact My Travel Genie at contact@mytravelgenie.co.uk or telephone 07951 219293.

What NOT to wear on a long haul flight………

By Toni Sharp

I have a problem when I fly……what to wear.  I want to be comfortable but stylish without being too over the top.  I don’t want to look as if I have tried.  I just want to look as if I chose my outfit minutes before leaving the house, simply throwing it together with style ease.

We all know those sorts of outfits are the worst to put together and I always leave thinking I have it right but later find my new flat (sensible!) ankle strap (didn’t think it through!) sandals struggle to be fastened when I am departing the plane because my feet have swollen to an unrecognisable sight.

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If you are travelling in the winter, a maxi dress is amazing.  You can wear leggings underneath and even boots to brave the British winter as these are hardly seen.  On top, pop on a cardigan and carry a pashmina in case you need it.  When you arrive at your exotic destination, you can take off all your winter wear and be left with your summer maxi dress.  Make sure you carry light weight flip flops in your hand luggage to quickly pop on (the boots would give the game away).

Maxi Dress PlusMaxi Dress Simplemaxi dress tall

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Try to avoid white.  I have worn white several times and have been lucky but I always worry it wont be white when I arrive.  You never know who you will be sitting next to or what could be spilt on you!  If you want to wear your whites then pack a light weight spare top/bottoms in your hand luggage if you can to change into if the worst happens.

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Do not wear strappy sandals or evening shoes.  Unless you’re Victoria Beckham it’s not a practical look and not a particularly stylish one.  Your fellow passengers will think it’s odd and you will be getting looks mostly for all the wrong reasons.  THINK COMFORT!  I chose a pair of Toms to fly to Malaysia in.  They were flat and comfortable when I tried them on in the shop and were quite classic and stylish.  However, I didn’t break them in (although they are now broken in they’re very comfortable but still….not for the plane).  After the first leg of our flight, I hobbled off the plane as they were rubbing my heels and the strap was at bursting point with my feet having swollen because they had been strapped in.  The 20 minute walk that followed was not pretty and certainly not stylish.  Try your most comfortable flip flops or a pair of pumps and make sure you break them in!

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Always take a pair of socks with you in your hand luggage.  If you want to take your shoes off, you may not wish to put your bare feet onto the floor.  Socks provide a good barrier!  Also, you usually get pretty high up in a plane and it’s much cooler up there and your little toes may get cold and so socks keep your feet warm.  That pashmina from earlier may come in handy too to act as a blanket.

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Don’t wear fabrics which are susceptible to snagging, tearing or staining easily.  You will be bending down, stretching, moving past objects quite closely.  You will probably also look as though you really did just pick something out to wear that morning as your outfit will most likely be creased.  Pick denim (skinny black jeans tick every box but feel free to go for colour), cotton or a viscose/elastane mix.

Boden Summer Shift H&M Skinny JeansTerracotta Boutique

A final thing…..if you want to sleep on a plane take ear plugs as a minimum!

Inspiration

Having travelled to many destinations on different budgets, our team can recommend various locations and accommodation to you and we have posted some ideas below to whet your appetite.

Budget – Home

The Lake District is a wonderful place to consider, even if on a budget.  The great outdoors surrounds you and it does not cost anything to scale the local hills and if you’re brave enough, Scafell Pike!  Try Calback, which can be rented from £380 Monday to Friday mid August.  See the reviews on Trip Advisor

Budget – Away

Rome is a perfect choice.  Not too far away, drenched in history, oozing romance and the best ice-cream in the world.  For £268pp, you can get a 3 night break in late June staying at the Relais Conte Di Cavour De Luxe in a luxury executive double room on a b&b basis, return flights with Monarch from Birmingham and transfers with Terravision (yes, it really is a bus company which is found in many European cities and a good one at that).  See the reviews on Trip Advisor

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Middle of the road – Home

Daisybank Cottage is the perfect choice if you want a break away from it all.  Based in the New Forest and set in peaceful surroundings, this beautiful B&B has touches of luxury everywhere you look and most importantly, very welcoming hosts.  Prices start from £55pppn and include a fabulous breakfast.  See the reviews on Trip Advisor

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Middle of the road – Away

The Greek islands are hard to beat and Kefalonia in particular is a place not to be missed in your lifetime.  Avithos Resort in Kefalonia is the perfect escape and it’s a good base to explore the rest of the island which can be done comfortably within a week (with plenty of relaxation time built in too!).  A 7 night break in late May staying in a studio apartment on a self catering basis, with return flights from Birmingham, can be snapped up from £505pp.  See the reviews on Trip Advisor

Big spender- Home

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons near Oxford immediately springs to mind as a wonderful choice if you want to combine a luxurious getaway with fine dining.  For a 2 night break in mid September, you will look to pay £1,242.50 per couple which includes accommodation in a one bedroom suite, a choice of dinner menu for two including coffee, breakfast, fresh fruit, Madeira wine and a half-bottle of Le Manoir Chateaux de  Boursault. See the reviews on Trip Advisor

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Big spender – Away

Try Kurumba Maldives this Christmas.  Stay for 10 nights taking in Christmas and New Year exploring the white sands and the colourful Indian Ocean.  If you love peace, relaxation and the ocean then this could be the ideal way to celebrate the festive season.  For an all-inclusive break staying in a superior room, flying with Malaysian Airlines in Business Class and speedboat transfers, you will look to pay from £5,700pp.  See the reviews on Trip Advisor