Travel Essentials: How to pack for a City Break

When it comes to City breaks, more often than not half the contents of our suitcase barely see the light of day. So why do we pack so much? Chances are its habit, or the panic of not having enough whilst away.

Over the years of travelling i’ve definitely learnt to be way more precise with my packing and feel i’ve finally got it down to a T! Or at least close.



Sounds pretty simple right? Thats cause it really is! Write down everything you plan on taking, from obvious stuff like clothes and shoes, to those things that make you go “OH F#@K!!” at the airport. (Medication and hair bobbles for me – everytime). Once you’ve curated the list, gather all the items on it and lay them out ticking off as you go! I find it helps to go through my daily routine noting what staples i use, and therefore need to pack. Make sure to revert back to the list when you think you’re done packing – you’ll be surprised what you’ve missed.


Again sounds obvious, and i imagine most people check ahead, but the amount of space you can save by being able to leave that second chunky knit at home! Ive always found BBC Weather or Accuweather the most accurate. Always remember to bring something warm for when you land back home – shorts and a t-shirt, 4am at Manchester Airport…no thanks.


Okay, hear me out. Before i started packing this way, i would pack basically my whole wardrobe, only to open my case and have 12 tops, 1 pair of trousers and no jumpers. Not ideal. Now i work out how many outfits i will need and what sort of activities we plan on doing. Do i need posh clothes for a meal, activity clothes or just all comfy casual? Its always worth remembering that you’ll maybe need more layers at night time so factor that as another outfit. If you’re an organisational queen like me, write sticky notes or note cards with the days of your trip on and lay outfits under each one – embarrassing maybe, but it works!


While I’m all about that “fashionista, wear stuff once and never again” life I’ve realised that doing this while travelling, even for a short city break is just not sustainable. I try and pack as many interchangeable pieces as possible that also take up minimal room. Perfect examples of these are: bodysuits, t-shirts, leather leggings, fitted jumpers and culottes. All of these can create so many looks just by pairing them differently.


How often do you find yourself pre-security trying to cram all liquids in a tiny bag, only to have to throw away some that won’t fit?! i swear by the trio of see through bags you can pick up in primark for around £4. The small and medium sizes are perfect for travel toiletries. I’ve never been told the bag is too big or the total combined mls is too much (though i am definitely pushing it). I think the fact you come prepared makes staff think you’ve got it together and voila – no questions asked and a nice easy breeze through security! Another handy trick is using refillable bottles. Shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser, the works – it all gets chucked into those. Saves so much money in the long run and its less plastic in the environment. Win win. My most recent purchase is the wild refillable deodorant – super impressed and won’t ever go back to using regular deodorant again! Their company mission is great too.


Most budget airlines now charge for both a cabin bag and a small item of hand luggage. So if you reeeaaally don’t want to pay for two bags here’s how to avoid that. Pack your small item of hand luggage in your suitcase but fill it with socks, tops and any small items you are taking. Use every inch of the dead space. While companies like EasyJet make you pay for two bags, if you turn up to the gate with two pieces and your handbag is small enough they usually just ignore it. Could be worth a chance with bigger bags, but from experience you’ll be made to put it in your case.


The VIP of any trip – the snacks! While snacks are obviously great for the plane and the airport, be sure to pack extras in your case for while you’re out exploring. This is particularly good if you are budget travellers, or you find yourself away from any source of food for a long time (think day trip or long train journey). We often find ourselves most ‘snackish’ mid afternoon or when relaxing in the hotel room. Make sure the snacks are small enough to fit in whatever day bag you are using. We usually go for cereal bars, mini biscuits or crisps like mini cheddars.


Previously when we have travelled we would take one adapter and a big extension cable. Works great but super chunky and heavy in your case. Since then I’ve had my eyes opened to the humble multi-USB plug. This was around £6 from IKEA and it is an absolute travel staple. If like me, you have cables for everything, iPhone, Apple Watch, Air Pods, Kindle etc etc this is simply the best. All you need is to connect all the USB wires into the one plug and you’re good to go.


Every single trip without fail i’ll sort out my clean and dirty clothes before flying home. If we stay in a hotel i will always use the plastic laundry bag they leave for you and use it for all our dirty clothes. If we are staying in an Air BnB I always take a bag with us. It saves so much time when you’re home and also means you don’t have to wash your whole suitcase after the clothes have mixed. SO simple and so effective.


I don’t know who needs to hear that but I’m thinking its A LOT of you! I am a dyson fiend and used to take my hairdryer on every trip taking up serious amounts of room in my case. But why? I’ve realised i can definitely survive a 4/5 day trip without and nine times out of ten the hotel or air BnB will provide a hairdryer that works well enough for what you need.


And finally the MVP of all tips. More often than not airport restaurants are overpriced and really not very nice at all. Behold – the humble boots meal deal. The best meal deal around in my opinion. (IDST). We get a meal deal everytime we fly. Its cheap, cheerful, you know what you’re getting and you can take it with you. Easy peasy!

What are some of your top tips?

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