Six packing essentials

Working for the UK’s Consumer Travel Publication of the Year (ahem), I get asked about my travels a lot. It’s hard to distil actual places down into a gimme-more addiction (though I’ve tried with Paris and Bali), but one thing I’m obsessed with is the art of packing well. I hate fuss and mess when it comes to travel — people who have to stoop down to unpack/repack at each stage of the airport are my nemeses – so multi-purpose, space-saving or downright useful packing bits make so, so happy. And on that note…

1. Tangle Teezer
Oh, it’s such a ridiculous-looking thing. I’ve had every charge from ‘sex toy’ to ‘horse brush’ levelled at it, but it never leaves my suitcase. I discovered this wonder-brush (which once appeared on Dragon’s Den) on a hen do this year, when my thick, tangly hair practically wept at how long it had waited to be so easily brushed after a shower. I have no idea how it works — that’s part of the fun, like Google Translate, or religion — but it glides through towel-dried hair and somehow makes it feel smooth and glossy all day, product or not (around £10 in shops, from £6.95 on Ebay).

2. Havaianas
Like the Tangle Teezer and hairbrushes, I didn’t much hold with specific brands for flip-flops (Primarni’s £1.50 bargains are hard to beat) — until I wore my first pair of Havaianas. Fittingly, I got them for my first ever press trip, in a chic chocolate brown, and they’ve been on every sunny jaunt with me since. They’re the Emma Thompson of flip-flops: classic, hardy, and ageing imperceptibly (four years and countless work travels has to equal 56 in flip-flop years, right?) In all honesty, they’re oddly comfy — something about the ‘rice’ pattern on the sole; mine are the ones with the slightly chunkier base, too— and the thong bit never rubs against your toes. Perfect for padding around southeast Asian temples, through Marrakech markets, or along sugary Ibizan beaches.

3. Swimsuit
Sounds a bit obvs, but I bring my swimsuit wherever I go, even if pool and beach aren’t the focus of the trip — and always, always try to stay in a hotel with a pool. A few limb-stretching lengths really sets you up for the day, even if you’re not getting to lounge by an infinity pool later. I’ve never owned a functional swimsuit in my life, though I do prefer a retro-feel one piece. My most recent obsessions are luxe numbers by Ted Baker and Biba.

4. Portable charger
That sinking feeling when you’ve had one too many glasses of cava, forgotten to charge your phone overnight, and now have no way to snap the sights or meet your travel buddy in time for dinner… But it should soon be a thing of the past, once everyone has a nifty little travel charger at the bottom of their bag. Mine is by TP Link, and it may resemble a giant tampon (as I was told the other day), but it’s super absorbent and gives you an extra few hours on the go. Just like a giant tampon.

5. Something cashmere-soft
It sounds incredibly bourgeois, but early on in my travel life, some model or actress mentioned in an interview that they always wore a cashmere wrap on long flights, and my interest was piqued. I am that annoying person who gets chilly on even an hour’s flight, so now I make sure I always have something (usually a jumper, sometimes socks or a scarf if I can’t stretch to that) with some cashmere content to wear on flights. I’ve found non-bank-breaking ones at both Uniqlo and TK Maxx, and latterly discovered the stretchy, non-crease range designed with transatlantic flights in mind by Kit and Ace. I just have a baby-soft grey T-shirt so far, but I’m working my way up to the epic blanket wrap.

 6. Black vests
I could write poetry about how useful, beautiful and space-saving the humble black vest (cami, tank, call it what you will) is. I usually bring about three variations, from beachy-lite to formal and substantial, and rotate them. Then you can just whack in some neutral shorts, maxi skirts, smart trousers or jeans, and they go with everything. They can be handwashed and reused in a jiffy. Brilliant, basic black vests.

And there you are. Hardly anything that would help me survive in the wilderness, but maybe I’m just destined to expire with expertly detangled hair, wearing fabulous Biba and/or cashmere. Happy travels…


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