Get ready to pack light, these are the only 7 pieces you need for a European summer vacay

Now boarding.

For those of us that don’t get to experience a year-long summer, we’re getting to that point in the year. The really f*cking cold point.

Our skin has a slight tinge of blue, we have to count down from 10 to strip back the covers and get out of bed every morning, and at least a couple of times a day, we seriously consider if we could fit inside the oven. 

It’s usually at this point we jump online and book the first available flight to Europe. We dream about bare legs and Aperol Spritz and jumping off boats into the deep blue sea. 

When it comes to these holidays, though, there are two shit parts. 

Firstly, we gotta pack. Or more specifically, overpack. It takes hours, and we generally end up stuffing and cramming in so much clothing that there’s no room for any souvenir magnets or duty-free alcohol. 

Secondly, we gotta check in. The scary man calls you up to the scales, and you know full well your bag is at least double the baggage allowance. You wonder if this is what drug smuggling feels like.

Alternatively, you can avoid all of this and skip straight to the good bits by being smart and packing light. Just stick to these seven suitcase MVPs. They do so much more than feel nice against your sunburnt skin.

1. A pair of denim shorts, because denim shorts

It should come as a surprise to no one that denim shorts top the list. We all know that no European suitcase is complete without a pair of denim shorts. In fact, once you’re there, you’ll probably regret having packed every other pair of bottoms. Just don’t bother.

2. A tote that doubles as a beach bag 

A European holiday is no place for your everyday medium-sized handbag. A tote, on the other hand, is where it’s at. Not only can you use it as your handbag on the plane and stuff with it magazines and snacks, but once you arrive at your destination, it becomes your beach bag. Voilà! While travelling from one exotic location to the next, it can also be rolled up in your suitcase and not steal all the space, unlike some other bags I know.   

3. A black one-piece that can be worn as a bodysuit at night 

Look, bikinis are great and all, but they just don’t have the versatility and forward-thinkingness of a one-piece. Obviously, a one-piece can be worn for a day at the beach. But unlike bikinis, it will always have your back if you’ve eaten three bowls of pasta and a bottle of rosé for lunch. Need to pop up to the shop? Throw on some denim shorts and you’re good to go. When night rolls around, you can pretend it’s a bodysuit and dress it up to wear out. 

4. A man-style white shirt that won’t crease 

A white shirt is usually on high rotation during your everyday life, and this doesn’t change when you go overseas. In fact, it becomes even handier when you’re travelling. Take one that’s man-style, so it’s a bit longer, then you can use it as a cover-up dress for the beach and the inevitable afternoon cocktails. It’s also an easy outfit with denim shorts for a day of exploring. And like our friend the one-piece, it can be dressed up for a fancy dinner, should you feel like treating yourself to something other than $2 baguettes.

5. An all-rounder black silky midi dress

We’re all guilty of filling our suitcases with unnecessary outfits. It’s just a part of our DNA. We truly believe we’ll iron our clothes before we go out, and that we’ll definitely wear those 10 dresses at some point. But when we arrive and are in chill mode, we can’t be bothered ironing shit and end up wearing the same dress every day. This is that dress. Wear it to the beach, wear it on its own for dinner, wear it layered with a T-shirt underneath or with a skirt over the top. You could literally go to Europe for one year and not take any luggage, provided you have this dress.  

6. A small silk scarf  

I might be about packing light, but I can always make some exceptions for cute accessories. A small silk scarf can be tied to your suitcase so you know it’s yours on the baggage belt (and you don’t go home with Lars from Germany’s swimming trunks). Once you arrive at your destination, the fun really begins. You can do anything with it, but some suggestions include: tying it into your high pony, around your wrist, through the belt loops of your denim shorts or around your neck with a plain white tee. 

7. A coupla mix ‘n’ match bikini separates 

So we’ve packed our versatile black one-piece but if I’m going to Europe, there’s no way I’m coming back without a deep, all-over golden glow. We need bikinis, but we also need to be smart about our choices. Rather than taking six sets of matching bikinis, take a couple of tops and bottoms that can be mixed and matched together. Go for strapless and triangle tops and low-rise bottoms that tie on the sides, for maximum tanning ability. Leave the fancy strappy ones at home. The sun is hot in Europe and I promise you will tan like a zebra. 

Illustration by Twylamae whose totes are perfect for your vacay.

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