How – and what – to pack for your summer holidays

You only need a few items for a week in the sun, but you need to choose them well

Whether you’re one of those people that takes the suitcase out two weeks in advance, or someone who’s still packing when they’re calling your name to board the plane, packing a bag for your summer holiday is never easy. We’re not saying you need a degree in neuropsychology, but when it comes to packing, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

Let’s start with the obvious. The cornerstone of good packing is to think about what you really need. Begin with a bit of research: what will the weather be like, will there be a night on the tiles, a visit to a cathedral, a trip to a fancy restaurant? I’m a big advocate of dressing for the occasion and there’s nothing worse than being caught in your cut-offs when everyone else is in cocktail dresses.

Your basic week in the sun, however, needs only a few items, so consider this your starting point.

From the ground up: you do not need more than three pairs of shoes. First: one pair of runners. These will keep your tootsies warm when leaving (inevitably) cold Ireland and will come in handy on any big touristy days, if you're planning any long walks, or if (god forbid) you're inspired to do a workout.

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Second: a pair of mules. A pair like these sky blue leather ones from Zara (€49.95) will work for a nice lunch, a fancy dinner or a night on the tiles.

Third: a pair of sandals. These Rose Gold Fitflop Runners (€89) can be dressed up or down, look good and are still comfortable. Tip: wear them in a bit before you take them away; there's nothing worse than sore feet on a sandy beach.

Mixes and matches

When packing, make your life easier by choosing a complementary palette that mixes and matches. I love white and navy with pops of orange or green for summer holidays.

A tote is an easy way to bring some colour and fun into a wardrobe and will come in handy on the beach, as well as the plane. We love this Palm Leaf Tote (€34.99) from New Look. You'll need a night-time clutch too – there's nothing worse than a delicate evening outfit ruined by a huge tote. A trick is to bring a pretty cosmetics pouch that can double up as a clutch once emptied.

This metallic plastic pouch (€49) from &OtherStories is the perfect size for both.

Bottoms are where most people tend to over-pack. Think about the items that you know you’ll reach for and that you are comfortable in and consider pieces that are as neutral as possible; this will make outfits easier to put together. All you need for a week away is one pair of shorts, one skirt/cropped loose-fitting trouser, and one pair of sports leggings. Yes that’s all.

I would make the shorts denim (Flamingo Shorts, €17, Penneys) and the skirt/pants in a block colour like navy, but you will have to consider your personal style here, and what you enjoy wearing.

These cropped trousers (€39.95, Zara) also come in khaki, nude and fuschia and are breathable, making them chic and comfortable in the heat. Leggings are for that imaginary workout but also come in handy for the plane.

If you are looking to invest in a pair that will last and never give away your knicker colour mid-downward dog, then these Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Tights for €88 from Brown Thomas are for you.

One-piece swimsuit

Dresses, especially ones that don't crease, are a packer's best friend. Pack one pretty mid-length (Lisa Marie Fernandez Mira Button Down Dress, €830, Brown Thomas) and one long and light to go over your swimsuit (Long tunic dress, €29.95, Zara).

I’m a big fan of the one-piece swimsuit (Plunge swimsuit, €34, Next), and worn under a pair of denim shorts it creates an outfit perfect for the beach.

You will not need more than seven tops for a week in the sun. On the plane wear a thin jumper in a natural fabric like cashmere.

If you can afford to splash out a bit, this Bella Freud Superstar jumper for €325 from Seagreen in Monkstown and Ranelagh is a dream. It will keep you cosy on cooler nights when the sea breeze picks up and you will wear it just as much after your holiday.

Bring two camisole tops, one in a bright colour such as orange and one in a neutral such as black. These two from River Island (€8) and M&S (€40) work for both day and night.

Bring a light, long-sleeved shirt (Djungle print silk shirt, €85, &OtherStories) that can be placed over a camisole for occasions where you might want to cover up or dress up a bit.

A linen, sleeveless top like this one from COS (€69) is perfect for a nice lunch in the sun; pair it with a sunhat like this Wallaroo Hat (€75, Neelu Beauty Salon, Liffey Street) to protect your face from those nasty UV rays.

It’s not glamorous but a plain T-shirt always comes in handy; I usually bring one in black or navy. H&M have great organic ones (€7.00, H&M).

All these tops can be matched with your skirt or shorts, and can be dressed up or down.