spa packing list

For someone who travels as much as I do, I remain a terrible packer. I am only capable of  putting together tiny amounts of hand luggage or vast over-stuffed suitcases.

The perfect capsule wardrobe eludes me still.

There was the time I smugly turned up at the airport for a two week long trip to Malaysia and Cambodia with a hand luggage-sized backpack, containing a few T shirts, shorts and one sundress.

Within a day of being immersed in the humidity of KL I had run out of clean clothes, and was being laughed at in department stores, as I looked for XXL T shirts and bras larger than a C cup in the women’s sections. I ended up buying mens Ts on that trip.

Or on my three week trip to Thailand this last December where my large Tumi case weighed 32kg when I got to the airport, necessitating a major repack and hand baggage shuffle. I was quite cross about this, because weight is one thing I normally can guesstimate, but I just ran out of time packing and had to manically shove things in the case at the last minute.

This uselessness at packing is partly because I am psychologically incapable of packing for a trip in advance. Busyness and a one bedroom apartment – so no room to start a packing pile in advance – also contribute to the last minute packing thing.

And, somehow, I always seem to forget something vital, spending a fortune at airport prices – if I am lucky enough to remember before I fly.

On my current trip I left my headphones on the office floor RIGHT NEXT TO MY CASE, and forgot my flipflops and my FitBit – all of which I needed as I was going to a wellness clinic, and had a very stressful hour running around Gatwick on a crowded Saturday trying replace everything.

So I’ve created a Google Docs spreadsheet, which is open to anyone to look at and download with my packing kit for every eventuality. I’m not suggesting that this is the answer to everyone’s packing needs, and I’m sure some people might laugh at some of the things I’ve included, but better safe than sorry, I always say.

My spreadsheet can be accessed on Google Drive here.

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It’s far easier to pack when the weather is reliable. For city breaks (my usual holiday) if I know it’s going to be v v hot, I reckon on 1 x dress per day, plus around 3 dresses for evenings. Most of my dresses are silk and scrunch down very small, so I can pack for a week with hand luggage only. I’ve stopped even thinking I’ll wear heels on holiday, so I usually take 1 pair of flat sandals.

When the weather is less predictable (Scandinavia in Summer IME), it’s much harder as you have to think about layers, different shoes etc. I spent a small fortune in H&M in Copenhagen one July on leggings/cardis/closed in shoes to fend off Danish summer-induced hypothermia.


@Jo: I agree: City breaks are def the easiest, and heels do take up too much space. I compromise with wedges, which I can walk for hours in. And I do now always try to carry socks and a shawl for cold emergencies. Also: Uniqlo’s Heat Tech vests, long and short sleeved always find a place in my luggage. Life saving LLGxx


Oh puleeze – try being an Australian travelling to Europe for 6/8 weeks (it has to be that long ‘cos it takes a week to get there and back and then some to recover!) So you’re looking basically at EVERYTHING on the spreadsheet! However, I’ve discovered this….take a few goodish things and a bit of not so good – toss them after a couple of weeks and hit the local Massimo/Zara/Uterque/Marks and leave the not so good along the way never to be seen again – happiness….


@Pauline: haha even the flag for your tent? I do feel your pain, having backpacked a lot previously. But you are right: there has been many a time that Zara has furnished my needs when abroad…it’s only things like swimsuits (because I am generously endowed), and cocktail dresses for me that I can’t just buy off the rail LLGxx


As a (busty) Malaysian (who lives/works in London) who is typing this from Kuala Lumpur right now I absolutely empathise with (and apologise for) my country’s clothes-wrecking humidity and the scarcity of brassieres above a C-cup! I’m also hopeless at packing light for tropical weather despite flying back and forth between London and K.L, so this spreadsheet is a very welcome tip for me, thank you! x

Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored


I’m currently on a trip to 3 different US cities, with vastly different climates. A packing challenge at which I’ve thrown 3 cashmere jumpers. But I think I’ve brought too many long-sleeved T-Shirts & not enough cardigans. Luckily the snow which greeted me on my first day didn’t last, so brogues were enough.


@Redbookish: I do think layering is the key…I always carry very lightweight cashmere shawls and wraps with me for that reason – I can use them as blankets, scarves, shawls…LLGxx


Indeed layering could be a good solution and packing for a trip in advance is difficult but you must try it…:)


I never go anywhere without making a packing list the day before or I end up missing out things like underwear!! I also have the exact same pair of Boden bunny slippers (in pink) and they are the best pair of slippers I’ve ever owned- good sole, warm and the heel stays put when you walk. I wish I’d bought two pairs! x


I’m currently packed for 5 days of work in Dubai (avg temp 36), 3 days in Scotland inc birthday dinner for my brother (avg temp 7 and rainy), 5 days in Istanbul (avg temp 14 and nfi). I have done this all as hand luggage (albeit carrying my coat over my arm) and have one wheelie bag and a pack back with my tech stuff. Now, I don’t have to do any fancy cocktail outfits but my observation is clothes are the easy bit – the hard one is shoes and toiletries. I now decant everything into those little pots or bottles, including shampoo and conditioner (the amount of expensive hair stuff i have left in showers would make you weep). I would add skins compression tights and socks (which I always wear on any flight more than 4 hours) and noise cancelling headphones as my must haves.


Brilliant post Sasha! There is something so satisfying in the anticipation of writing a travel list, for a holiday or otherwise, and in trying to plan the perfect capsule wardrobe. So yes, I too have a basic packing list on my laptop that I amend depending on where I’m off too.


I’ve used a modification of your weekend in Barcalona packing small case now for years/ its been invaluable as I never take a big case anywhere and I use bottles of hotel stuff with minimal skincare/make up etc
Its liberating to reduce my choices I find


Sasha, as a teacher, I can’t get enough of charts and organisational timetables so this tremendous packing chart is right up there with a four weekly rotating meal planner I discovered. Sad but I love it!

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