Here’s a few tips for what to pack for a summer city break or general non-beachy summer holiday. I find summer really hard to pack for so have wasted many hours of my life thinking about this subject. A summer holiday is going to be warm, or you hope it is. But going to a city and doing day trips or visiting different towns isn’t like a beach holiday. You can’t spend the whole time in tiny dresses and flimsy sandals if you want to pack in loads of exploring, sight-seeing and of course eating. Just to add to the torture, RyanAir somehow expect you to cope with looking your summery best within 15kg. So it’s not like you can just throw everything you own in and hope for the best…
I normally steer clear of writing packing guides but my what to pack for a spring city break one seemed pretty popular so I’ve now mentally committed myself to doing all four seasons. Like I said in the spring edition, if this helps even one other woman staring at her ‘floordrobe’ and wanting to burn it all the night before going away, I’ll feel I’ve done some kind of heroic good deed.
Right. Here are my summer packing tips…
1. Bold trousers that you can really OWN
Summer is the perfect time to strut out of your hotel in a pair of bright coloured, floral or patterned trousers, waving a big sign that says ‘I’m wearing these trousers and there’s nothing you can do about it, bitches’.
I don’t suit the super wide-legged variety of summer trousers that are dead popular at the moment, but I’ve got quite the collection of different patterns of these tapered-in bad boys from New Look (pictured below) and these chino-style ones from H&M. They’re perfect for days with a bit of a breeze, when wearing a dress/skirt might be precarious, or if like me you get sick of shaving your legs all the time in summer…
2. Breathable shoes that you can walk all day in
Summer is the hardest season to pound picturesque cobbled streets all day without risking being hospitalised with life-threatening blisters. It’s easy to do ALL the walking in winter when you’re in your comfy ankle boots, but I’m afraid they’d be a health hazard for sweaty summer trotters.
I’ve narrowed down my summer hoof options to these three:
- Comfy sandals. I have weird, easily cut/blistered feet and it’s taken me 31-and-a-half years to find a pair of sandals that doesn’t cripple me. In fact, this pair of New Look bad boys (pictured throughout this post) is my main inspiration for writing this. They’re from New Look and I have them in rose gold and white and have just ordered a second pair of the white ones. Because if the originals wear out, my track record suggests that I’ll be 72 by the time I find another sandal that doesn’t tear my feet to shreds.
- Trainers or Converse-style canvas shoes. I was a Converse addict until recently when I discovered how to wear white trainers. Again, at the age of 31-and-a-half. It’s been quite a year. Anyway, I’ve always found Converse quite good on less-warm summer days with a top and jeans. They’ll probably always be a staple in my wardrobe, but white trainers have really taken over lately. I’ve found they look good with a midi skirt/dress or jumpsuit as well as trousers/jeans and these insanely comfy Fila ones I’ve worn to death so far this summer. Don’t forget trainer socks though or you’re going to be googling ‘What is Italian for Febreze?‘ a few days into the holiday…
- Brogues. They’re a total game changer because they look good with skirts and dresses as well as jeans/trousers. Slip-on flats are so bad for your feet (why yes, I am aware I’m being horribly practical with that sentence) and will rub you. Brogues are the opposite of this. In hot weather, I like those ones that have little holes all over.
3. Dresses, dresses and more dresses
It’s an obvious one, but packing for a summer holiday is basically an excuse to take twice as many outfits because you can roll dresses up and cram millions into your suitcase (if you don’t know how to do this, allow me to plug my packing a suitcase tips post…).
Dresses are also well easier as an outfit than anything else because it’s just a dress. That’s your outfit DONE. No faffing about matching tops and bottoms and layers.
I enjoy a maxi one and if it also has pockets like the below Zara one (sold out, soz!) then that’s the dream.
4. A tactical scarf
Even if you’re going from sun at home to another hot place, there’s the issue of an arctic, air-conditioned airport and aeroplane journey to get through. Your denim jacket might not cut it. I always shove a big scarf into my hand luggage so I can form some kind of temporary cocoon on the plane.
5. A bag that fastens securely
Unless you’re off to somewhere exceptionally safe (shout out to Japan and Scandinavia), it’s wise to have a bag that properly does up, whether in summer or otherwise. Even the safest cities have the odd pickpocket. Did I mention that I’m 31 and becoming hideously practical?
I love Fjallraven Kankens and other cute backpacks but if you’re going for a backpack, remember to hold it on your front if you’re on a crowded bus or in a busy square. If you like cross-body options, your best bet is probably a satchel. Either way, a plain neutral coloured bag is best, especially if you’re taking lots of colourful or patterned clothing.
Remember to test out a new bag before you go so you know for sure that all the rubbish you want to haul round with you actually fits in it. I have a fairly big heavy camera for blogging so always have to check this. Otherwise, I end up with it round my neck and looking like a right tourist.
6. It may be summer but you still need some jackets
Have a look on your weather app of choice and make the selection of two or three: light trench coat, leather jacket, denim jacket and waterproof mac (more on that last one in #6, but it’s an essential one).
You might not need not all of them for one holiday, but if you roll a couple of informed choices up and shove them in your suitcase (of course, while following some kind of expert packing guide to maximise space in your suitcase, ahem) you’re sorted for when summer isn’t quite so summery.
You might not need your jackets/mac on every day. But you don’t want to be stuck with anything that doesn’t go with all your outfits or you’re not comfy in. Plus if you get unlucky and have a week of summer rain, you’ll end up with your mac on in all your holiday photos (boo). So make sure they all fit right and go with the outfits you’re taking.
A denim jacket is my absolute go-to.
7. And make sure one of those jackets is a waterproof mac
It’s summer. But that doesn’t mean you’re safe. And it definitely doesn’t mean you should go risking your hair/fake tan/general staying dry preferences.
You might not want it to, but we all know that it’ll rain if you don’t pack a waterproof mac. That’s just how life works. When did you last leave the house without a brolly for the first time in ages and then it chucked it down? Point proven. Anyway, macs weigh next to nothing and don’t take up any room, so you may as well take one and then if it doesn’t rain, BONUS. It’s not like it’s been much of a waste of suitcase space/luggage allowance.
Top tip: if anyone not from the UK is reading this and planning a summer trip here, 100% invest in a waterproof mac. You’ll need it. That also goes for visiting here in spring, autumn and winter. Soz.
8. Midi skirts: if you’re not onto these already, where have you been?
I’m an owner of a prominent pair of cankles. There’s nothing I can do about it – no matter how much weight I lose or gain, they’re a constant. Until this year, I’d always been afraid of midi skirts, assuming they’d make them look even canklier.
However, I’ve decided they don’t make one jot of difference. And if they do, I don’t care. Cankles will keep on cankling no matter what I’ve got on. I am over it and feeling free and liberated to buy ALL the midi skirts. They are the future.
You don’t run the risk of flashing when there’s a breeze like you can with short skirts. But you also get to get your pins out a bit, unlike a maxi. Plus the shops are full of them so there’s loads of choice.
9. If it’s not going to be that hot, hello jeans
If you’re predicted some cooler days, it’s worth cracking a pair of jeans in. Summer is your chance to break away from black skinny jeans (or is it just me who lives in them?). Go for some light-wash/ripped blue, or even brightly coloured ones.
Topshop’s high-waisted Jamie jeans are my go to.
I know they’re not the most exciting option but there’s a reason the dreaded phrase ‘jeans-and-a-nice-top’ exists. AND they’re the perfect accompaniment to all those slogan t-shirts you’ve no doubt collected in recent years.
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You might also enjoy:
- what to pack for a spring city break
- what to pack for an autumn city break
- and what to pack for a winter city break.
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