You booked the flights months ago. And you have no doubt spent the past few weeks dreaming about lazy days on the beach and quiet dinners in magical restaurants. Well, the good news is that it’s time to stop dreaming because the schools have broken up for the summer and the holidays are finally here. The bad news is that you still have to pack.

Yes, before you can go anywhere, there is the small matter of trying to fit the contents of your wardrobe – and most of the bathroom, too – into a bag seemingly designed to frustrate you. So many zips, so little space.

It can sometimes feel like enough to put you off holidays altogether. In a survey carried out last year by a US-based travel company, 49 per cent of people said that packing was the leading cause of stress when planning a holiday. Even travel blogger Alyson Long admits: “I really, really can’t stand the stress [of packing]. It leaves me agitated, confused and wound up.”

If you can relate to that – and frankly, who can’t? – don’t panic: help is at hand. We asked four people who are flying out of the UAE this summer for very different holidays to share their must-have items and top tips for smart, stress-free packing.

“Believe it or not, we only use 20 per cent of our stuff 80 per cent of the time,” says Dalia Fernandez, product marketing manager at Foreo, a Swedish beauty brand specialising in travel-friendly products. “The theory derives from the Pareto principle, which states that, in business, 80 per cent of your success comes from 20 per cent of your efforts. The goal of knowing this is to be able to focus on that 20 per cent to maximise efficiency.

“It might seem silly, but you can translate the Pareto principle to packing, too. So when it comes to packing for your next trip, keep that in mind. Lay out everything you want to pack and then evaluate what fits into the 80/20 rule in your everyday life. Ask yourself: do I normally use this? If the answer is no, odds are you won’t need it on your vacation either.”

So whether you’re going solo or with the family, for a short break or a summer-long holiday, this handy guide should make getting away just that bit easier. Bon voyage.

A short break with friends

Lebanese-Australian fashion blogger Elias El-Indari. Courtesy Elias El-Indari
Lebanese-Australian fashion blogger Elias El-Indari. Courtesy Elias El-Indari

Lebanese-Australian fashion blogger Elias El-Indari has two short holidays planned. He is going to spend 10 days in Beirut and 12 days in Greece and Italy.

“The key thing is always to pack light, especially if you’re going to be bouncing from place to place. For a short break, it’s vital to make a list of the outfits you will need. Be rigorous: if you are doing a certain activity on day one, pack an outfit for that activity. If you have a bunch of extra options, you just lose time deciding what to wear.

“If you need to get rid of something from your bag, ditch the chinos. I always pack them and never end up wearing them – they’re just too hot for a summer holiday.

“You really don’t want to be carrying around a ridiculous suitcase, either. I always take a cabin-size bag and a small Louis Vuitton shoulder bag. That way you can leave the main bag at the hotel, and if you’re heading out on a day trip, you can fill up the shoulder bag with the essentials: flip-flops, sun cream and a speaker. For a bit of added fun, you can throw in some wooden beach bats and a ball. A company called Frescobol Carioca do a great set.”

Must-have item

“A pair of loafers from a Norwegian company called Swims. These are waterproof shoes that you can wear anywhere: the beach, a casual lunch or even out to dinner. If they’re covered in sand, you can just shake them off, give them a rinse and they’re good to go again. They’re very practical and save you from having to take too many pairs of heavy shoes.”

Top tip

“When you’re packing a suit, turn the jacket inside out and then roll it, rather than folding it. No one likes a creased suit. Oh, and don’t forget a needle and thread – it can be a life saver.”

A weekend away

Danae Mercer's top tip includes taking a
Danae Mercer’s top tip includes taking a “big, floppy inexpensive hat” while packing. 

Danae Mercer is the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Middle East and Men’s Health Middle East. This summer, she has trips planned to Greece, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

“It’s all about finding items of clothing that can double up. I’ll usually take a couple of swimsuits that also work as tops if you wear them with a pair of shorts. Or dresses that work as skirts if you tie the top half round your waist. That’s a handy way of reducing the amount of stuff you have to take.

“I’ve tried the technique of rolling clothes, and although I think it does work in theory, I’m just not sure it’s worth the amount of faff involved. I’m a little bit reckless when it comes to packing. I just squidge everything together and sit on the bag. That said, lots of people swear by packing cubes. They fit inside your bag, and you put shirts in one, shorts in another and so on. It just means that if you want to get a shirt, you pull out that packing cube without having to take apart your entire suitcase.

“Alternatively you could try a new product from a company called Solgaard. It’s a pop-up closet within a suitcase. It’s definitely on my list of things to buy this year.”

Must-have item

“There are lots of rucksacks available now with solar panels on them, so you can charge your phone on the go.”

Top tip

“Take a big, floppy, inexpensive hat, which can squish down into a bag. It doesn’t matter if it gets damaged, it just needs to be good at keeping the sun off your head.”


Read more:

A guide to skin care in the air: how to alleviate the damage caused by flying

Six on-the-go tech items for travellers

Emirates takes the lug out of luggage with new home check-in service


A family holiday

Joyce Amm and her husband are taking their family to Lebanon for two months. They have two children Matteo, 6, and Ella, 4
Joyce Amm and her husband are taking their family to Lebanon for two months. They have two children Matteo, 6, and Ella, 4

Joyce Amm and her husband Mike are taking their family to Lebanon for two months. They have two children: Matteo, 6, and Ella, 4.

“We all have a separate bag, but obviously I have to pack for the children as well.

My daughter wants to take all her princess outfits, which are long-sleeved and far too hot for the summer, so we do have some tantrums. We always end up packing at least one, though. My son is more flexible; he doesn’t really care. I tend to roll all my clothes, but because the children’s clothes are already quite small, they can just be folded.

“Having kids, you have to think about toys as well. With board games it’s much easier to leave the boxes at home and put the pieces into a small bag.”

Must-have item

“Short-sleeved pyjamas for the children – often I find that the country we are visiting doesn’t have the same standard of air conditioning as we have in the UAE.”

Top tip

“I never used to pack toiletries. I always thought it would be easier to buy them when we arrived, but I have discovered that it’s much more practical to have everything to hand.

“No one wants to go and shop for things like shampoo when they have just arrived on holiday.”

A summer-long departure

Kirsten Baillie's must-have item when travelling is a universal adapter. 
Kirsten Baillie’s must-have item when travelling is a universal adapter. 

Kirsten Baillie teaches PE and swimming at the Pearl Academy in Abu Dhabi. With school over and pupils not due back until September 2, she is packing up for the whole summer and moving to Tuscany, Italy, where she has a house.

“I try to go with as little as possible – just one suitcase – and then I buy stuff there. I used to be like the bag lady, but now I travel light. I would try to take my whole wardrobe, but I realise all you really need are shorts and T-shirts. I took my bike one year, so I had that, my suitcase, my daughter and her suitcase, and we were trying to get through Milan airport. No, just no.

“Now I go with a different attitude: if I run out of stuff or I get bored, I just go to the market and buy other things.”

Must-have item

“A universal adapter.”

Top tip

“Put an entire outfit together – shorts, top, pants, socks, everything – and roll them all up in one together. Then you have all your outfits ready to go. Although I must admit I’m not always organised enough to do this.”


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