Tuesday 16 January 2018

Our best case scenario

Can't wait for your summer holiday, but dreading the packing? Don't worry, we've got it all sussed out for you.

Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

With her aeronautical brolly and bottomless overnight bag, Mary Poppins was the original queen of travelling light.

But even the '60s super-nanny made famous by Julie Andrews would struggle to sneak past airport security without a full-body cavity search or avoid paying luggage levies these days.

In an age of cost-cutting carriers and hyper-tense customs, mastering the art of packing light has never been more important.

Most airlines, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, now grant a miserly 10kg hand- luggage allowance -- and excess baggage charges can cost anything up to an eye-watering €20 per kilo.

But could you really cram everything you need for a family holiday or romantic getaway into a tiny 55cm x 40cm x 20cm carry-on bag?

More imaginative passengers have attempted to outwit the budget carriers' restrictive luggage policies.

Last week, a UK reporter mocked Ryanair's rules by squishing 11kg of his belongings in a jacket lined with 17 pockets, including a laptop, torch, first-aid kit, books and enough clothes and toiletries for a week.

However, there is an easier way to streamline your luggage without turning up at the airport looking like the Michelin Man.

We asked three professional travellers to lift the lid on their carry-on cases. Here, they reveal how to Carry On Laughing this summer.

The Staycation:

Founder of Spa-ireland.com, Alison Bell, frequents Ireland's top spa hotels all in the name of research. And if holidaying at home this year, resist the urge to deploy the roof-rack when packing, advises the seasoned staycationer from Dublin.

"I'm very lucky to get to visit luxury spas all over Ireland for work.

"I also work in London two days a week and travel extensively overseas.

"Having had more than enough of airports, I decided to stay put this summer; I've already had two fabulous staycations at my brother's house in Donegal and Fota Island Resort in Cork. Holidaying at home, my mantra is to expect four seasons in one day.

"I'll pack the car boot with all the essential rain gear -- a waterproof jacket, wellies, walking boots and umbrella.

"Apart from that, my staycation luggage is the same that I use for short overseas trips -- a feather-light Samsonite Cosmolite Spinner. Plan your wardrobe before you pack: two pairs of jeans, a couple of long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, one dressy top, lounge wear that doubles as nightwear, good underwear and a swimsuit is all you really need.

'Use the goodies supplied in your hotel room, such as shower gel, body lotion, robe and slippers rather than bringing your own. I keep a pre-packed washbag with travel size essentials ready for last-minute trips.

Bring a book you'll definitely read, instead of one you think you should! Pick up a local guidebook when you get to your destination, but keep an open mind -- Ireland is a great place for freeflow travel."

Alison's top 10 staycation essentials: "Laptop, iPhone, chargers, map, SPF 50+ tinted sunscreen, candle (Irish hotels often have wonderful baths), multi-weather fleece, fit flops, Berocca and lip balm."

The City Break:

From London to LA, air hostess Eleanor Magan, from Moynalty, Co Meath, has visited some of the most choc-a-block cities on the planet with work.

But she says your bag needn't be bursting at the seams.

"On my first day of training as an air hostess, they gave us a list of what we needed in our case at all times. Being naïve, I tossed it aside -- how wrong I was!

"For the first few weeks, I lugged everything but the kitchen sink around. But I quickly began making a list of things I couldn't live without instead. With my girl guide motto of 'Be Prepared', I replaced my hairdryer with dry shampoo and so on, until I could pack the lightest suitcase in record time.

"I also learned to leave plenty of room in my case for shopping trips on layovers to cities like Liverpool and LA.

"Before a trip, I check the weather forecast of the destination. Unlike a sun holiday, it's more likely to rain on a city break to London, so I always bring an umbrella and light jacket -- even if the forecast says 40 degrees!

"My travel fashion staples are a maxi dress, jeans and a top which can be either dressed up or down. Comfy shoes are a must for sightseeing.

"As a trained make-up artist, I know how heartbreaking it is to watch a security guard dump your favourite foundation. Only bring essentials -- bronzer can double up as eyeshadow -- and keep sample pots you get at make-up counters for creams.

"Keep the travel-size toiletries in your hotel as these can be overpriced at airports. To avoid stress, have liquids in a clear bag before you leave home."

Eleanor's essentials: "Credit card, mobile phone, iPod, camera, chargers, dry shampoo, small sewing kit, painkillers, Vitamin E face mist and baby wipes."

The Sun Holiday:

Travel writer Karen Creed from Bray, reviews such sun-kissed Edens as Cyprus, Sicily and Jamaica for a living. And carry-on connoisseur Karen says it's possible to live out of a single bag.

"After four years of travel writing, I've finally mastered the art of travelling light; I used to bring a different bikini for every day of the holiday. Now, I just bring my favourite one. Irish people have become much more savvy about keeping luggage to a minimum -- perhaps thanks to Ryanair.

"I rarely check in luggage, unless I'm going on a long-haul trip. It's easy to pack for a sun holiday without going overboard -- all you need is some beach wear, a couple of pairs of flip-flops, and a few mix-and-match outfits for night time.

"Generally, I embrace the hippy style on holiday, letting my hair go wild and keeping my clothes casual. Pashminas, costume jewellery and embellished flip-flops are great for glamming up a bit more at night. If I must bring heels, I wear them travelling to save space in my bag.

"My toiletries are always travel size, which last much longer than you'd expect.

"And whenever I'm travelling with my mum and sister, one of us will take cleanser and moisturiser; another will pack the shampoo and conditioner; and someone else brings the GHD.

"It's a good idea to call the resort in advance to see what's in the room, such as a hairdryer, so you don't over-pack.

"My biggest tip is never pack anything you're unsure about -- it's better to bring a few extra accessories than lots of random tops and skirts you won't wear."

Karen's top 10 sun holiday essentials: "Bikini, maxi dress, SPF, sun hat, sunglasses, pack of playing cards, camera, adaptor, tea bags and a large packet of Kit Kats -- people might laugh at the last one, but at some stage everyone gets sick of Mojitos!

"A scented candle or incense has also been my saviour in many a musty hotel room."

Irish Independent

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