Two weeks from now I’m going to Porto, Portugal’s second city that’s best known for its strong, sweet gluggable stuff and of course cork, before it became a must-have interior. I wouldn’t say I’m a Port drinker, I don’t think anyone is under the age of 65 and I’m completely inundated with cork decor, the perks of owning a homewares store, so why Porto?
Well from my research, the cobbled streets and tiled walls of Lisbon’s little sister seem relatively undiscovered by tourists. I’ve had to go back a fair few pages on Google to source well-written, interesting travel reviews of Portugal’s second city, that celebrate its vibrant art and design scene. I’m so excited to see the bold architecture of Rem Koolhaas's lopsided Casa da Música and visit Alvaro Siza's famous Piscinas das Marés, a duo of seawater swimming pools cut into the rocks of the coast. I have list as long as my arm for mixed-use spaces that flaunt indie cinemas, Petiscos (Portuguese tapas) , cheap booze and a soft spot for 80’s synth. On a more traditional note, Porto is neighboured by lots of tiny fishing villages so I’m looking forward to some authentic sea-to-plate cuisine. We’ve planned little day trips to colourful Averio, the Venice of Portugal apparently and home to the oldest lighthouse in Europe. Then there’s Miramar, a small seaside town with an Instagramable idyllic 17th century chapel ‘Capela do Senhora Pedra’ , strikingly situated on a rocky, wave-beaten headland jutting out from the beach.
Can you see why I’m bordering on spontaneous combustion with excitement?! Porto, has everything we are looking for in a holiday, a cultured city with optional beach! However it’s also the type of destination to get totally carried away with your packing and risk overloading your suitcase with just-in-case pieces you’ll not end up wearing and return home with with their original labels still attached.
Below I’ve listed a few ideas for night and daywear that I’ll be sticking to when organising my summer suitcase. I’ve also included a few suggestions about accessories and footwear as well as storage tips and tricks for crease free packing, hurrah! My post below probably relates best to a city/beach combo break but hopefully some of my ideas might come in useful for more exotic destinations too. Any comments, questions or if you have any travel tips you’d like to share, do feel free to pop you thoughts in the box at the bottom of the feature :-)
I know it sounds silly but before you pack anything into your case, check the temperature of the place your going! Don’t just presume it’s going to be absolutely boiling, especially at nighttime. Also temperatures can vary day to day and there is quite a significant difference between 18 degrees and 25 degrees.
I invest in a new, over-size white linen shirt almost every summer. I chose this one from a vintage store in Portland, as I liked how it was styled with the rolled up sleeves as it gave it more structure. I liked that it has buttons meaning I can wear it done up with shorts, open over swimwear and also layer over an all-in-one or use as a throw-on at nighttime. I also think white linen shirts look great crumpled, especially over bikinis, creating lovely relaxed look.
Different sleeve-length tees are a vital part our my holiday attire. Opt for a 100% cotton if possible as natural fabrics are more breathable and won’t make you as sweaty. The sun and I have never been great friends and knowing I’ll usually start my holiday with a lovely red glow, I like to wear a 3/4 length tee underneath playsuits, with shorts or capri pants to protect my shoulders, arms and back. Secondly, dress depending on your activity. If you’re visiting a gallery or museum, eating in a restaurant or browsing at a flee market, look at the locals around you, I can guarantee they won’t be exposing every spec of skin possible just because the temperature in the early-twenties.
Is there anything worse then holiday blisters? They're even worse than normal blisters because your feet are so swollen from the heat! Invest in a pair of real leather sandals and wear them in BEFORE you go on holiday. Opt for a pair with a thick sole too, being able to feel sharp cobbles underneath your feet after 5 hours of walking isn’t exactly enjoyable. I’ll be taking my 4 year old double strap Birkenstocks. We travelled to a fair few countries together, they're my house slippers, gardening shoes and basically have stayed on my feet April to October every year since I purchased them. Great buy!
I’ve recently updated by beach bag as one of the straps broke due to my constant over-loading of food shopping, lesson learnt! I’ve chosen this black, roomy oversize shoulder bag from COS (SS 16). Always opt for a dark colour as it’ll be accompanying you to beach where there are all sorts of sticky, stainable substances lurking about. Also by taking a bigger than average beach bag, you can use it to carry all your airport purchases too!
I’d also recommend taking an additional day time bag as beach bags tend to have open tops and therefore aren’t very secure. I’m taking an old faithful, my usual daytime grey leather rucksack from COS (AW 14). Again it’s secure, roomy and I know exactly where every pocket and compartment is as I use it every day. This makes it super easy to store essentials like suncream, money, my iPhone and travel guide and not be faffing around looking for them.
Ensure there’s at least one pop of colour in your summer suitcase, if you’re blessed with a sun-kissed glow now’s the time to make the most of it! My ‘sun-kissed’ glow will be achieved from careful gradual layering of self tan and I’ll be showing it off in a backless fuchsia pink Other Stories (SS15) dress paired with pale grey soft leather strap sandals from COS (SS16) and some ridiculous chandelier earrings, that I only wear on holiday !
I’ve finally had to say good-bye to my favourite little black dress, it’s stood the test of time these last 4 years but it’s finally no longer fit for wear. So I’ve invested in a semi-short, halter neck black dress from COS (SS16). Now normally, given my ample bust I wouldn't have chosen this style but the loose fit ruffle collar and feminine ribbon tie combined with the casual cotton fabric keep it looking classy! I’m hoping to wear it with some flat cream leather rope sandals also from COS (SS16) to maintain an understated and undone look.
Pack at least one dressed down outfit to wear in the evening. Ask yourself, if you were eating out on Tuesday in Manchester, would you really wear that dress and those heels? Why should it be any different abroad? I always feel more comfortable underdressed than overdressed so I’ll be taking a few more casual options. I’m opting for some tailored chambray shorts and white linen ruffle collar/cuff blouse, both from COS.
As I mentioned in my previous post about building a season-less wardrobe, opt for a pair of neutral coloured shoes so they go with more outfits. If you’re taking heels, take some sturdy block heels that won’t send you wobbling over cobbles. If you are wanting to include a secondary pair of nighttime shoes, invest in a pair of plain REAL leather or suede sandals. Don’t skimp on the quality of the material, they’ll only rip your feet to shreds!
I’ve decided on two handbags to take with me to Porto. The first is a cream micro clutch featuring a pretty palm leaf print that I brought whilst on my honeymoon in Palm Springs, my husband knows it as the ‘tropical one’! It fits nothing more than some cash and a lipstick and that’s one of my reasons it’s coming, it’s so weeny it can’t hold my iPhone! Secondly the fun club-tropicana print works well to dress up plainer outfits. Next I’ve decided on a boxy, burgundy leather satchel with a removal shoulder strap I picked up in the sale at COS at Easter. Burgundy is such a versatile colour, complimenting navy, cream, black and grey all very nicely.
COS dust bags
From this post you’ll have probably guessed I shop at COS ALOT! And I have more of those little grey dust bags than I do underwear! However, they are brilliant for helping to organise your packing. I use them to store my shoes so the soles don’t mark my clothes, to store lighter coloured clothing to prevent staining, to separate my clean and worn underwear and my hair tools. The mini versions you receive when you purchase jewellery are great for storing, you guessed it, jewellery !
Ever noticed when you buy clothing from a decent store, the sales assistant usually wraps it in tissue for you and it rarely needs ironing before you wear it? The same process works when you apply this folding + tissue method at home. Bulk buy yourself some light coloured, acid free tissue paper and use to neatly pack your freshly ironed wares. For example if you’re packing a blouse:
- Lay the blouse flat (front facing down) with all buttons done up.
- Fold the tissue paper so it fits the dimension of the back of the blouse.
- Carefully fold the sleeves horizontally and inwards along the seams so they lay flat on the black of the blouse.
- Fold the excess fabric along the sides inwards so the tissue paper is now concealed along the edges.
- Fold in half lengthways and turn over.
- Wrap tightly in tissue paper, tucking in any edges into the gaps within the folds.
7. If this sounds like to much like a too much of a chore, it shouldn’t be if you're minimising your packing, buy a travel iron and an adapter plug!
Finally, I find using a starch spray when ironing really helps to keep ceases out for longer.
Avoid buying miniatures of everything, they’re such a cop out and so expensive for half the amount of product you’d usually get when buying the regular size. Instead, use what you already have at home and double wrap any already open toiletries in sandwich bags to prevent them exploding in your cosmetic bag.
And finally ... a few words of holiday wisdom to complete your pro-packing!
- Hair Grips - buy multi-packs because they're so easy to loose! Your hair takes quite a beating when exposed to so much sunlight so leave it to dry naturally and experiment with messy, undone-dos and summer braids created wth basic her grips.
- Hammam towel - they're bigger than standard beach towels but ultra light so don’t take up nearly as much room in your suitcase. Another plus is they absorb water really well and dry in no time at all!
- Coconut Oil - If you are going to buy new holiday toiletries go for multi-use products like coco-nut oil, it’s amazing at taking off your make-up (even waterproof mascara), it teams up as an excellent aftersun treatment and is great for repairing sun-frazzled hair ends. I have first hand experience of this having had a full head bleach for ten years!
- Swimwear - I always take one bikini and one swimming costume but make sure they have similar straps/fastenings as not to end up with a striped tan similar to that of a raccoons tail!
- Yorkshire Tea - let’s face it European tea just doesn’t taste the same! If I could go as far as bringing my own milk I would do this too!