Real life one bag travel: packing for a luxury travel resort vacation

Hi Frugalistas!  Luxury Travel with just one carry on bag?  Of course!  Just because the number of staff will outnumber the number of guests, just because you are not moving from location to location, and just because if you can afford a luxury resort you can certainly afford a porter to carry your bags doesn’t mean you must pack an enormous suitcase.  Luxury Travel, does not have to equal heavy packing, and here is how…..

white sandy beach and blue water at Bora Bora

Photo credit: Elegant Resorts

Getting into the Luxury Travel theme

I’m basing my one bag packing list around a theme – think yachts in the south of France, lazy lunches on sunny terraces and cocktails poolside.  I’m sure you get the picture.  Regardless of your budget, and even if your idea of Luxury Travel is a private room in a hostel, my list will work for you!  The other key thing to remember?  Luxury Travel does not need to mean designer labels, and teetering heels.  You still need to be comfortable and dressed appropriately to your activities.

My key advice of packing coordinating colours into a capsule wardrobe still holds.  Choose a colour theme and make sure everything you pack goes with everything else.

The one bag packing list for a luxury resort

white caftan with butterflies and purple floral maxi dress

Think capsule and multitasking

3-4 tops.  Even if you are a definite sun worshipper make sure you have at one top with sleeves.  Handy to cover up burnt shoulders, for cooler evenings or for visiting religious or culturally sensitive sites you do need at least one.  Choose at least one top that can be worn dressed down for the daytime or dressed up at night for a casual evening.

3 short bottoms.  These can be shorts, sarongs, skirts or mixture of all three.  Choose your skirt carefully, and it can be worn at night dressed up with a smart top, strappy sandals and some great jewellery.

A pair of white jeans or linen pants.  I always pack a pair of white jeans or linen pants for resort holidays.  Perfect for hopping on and off those Mediterranean yachts, or just for covering up on cooler evenings, I find I always get a lot of wear out of a pair of white pants.  I wear them with espadrilles or flip flops for shopping or touring around, and wear them at night with a pretty top and some gorgeous jewellery for casual evenings.


taupe jersey Max Mara draped dress, with purple Akira silk dress

Choose dresses that go from day to night

Two dresses.  I try to choose pretty dresses that can again be dressed up or down for day and evening wear.  Maxi dresses or kaftans can work well, but day length dresses work just as well.  Use shoes and jewellery to dress up or down and you will have a versatile piece that will be fit into even the snootiest of Luxury Travel destinations.

A least one cardigan or shrug.  I’m a big fan of shrugs on resort trips.  They cover shoulders on cool evenings, change up a plain Tshirt to create a different look or come in handy to cover up at religious sites without making you feel hot.  I often wear mine on the plane to keep cold draughts at bay.

3 pairs of shoes.  A resort holiday is the only time I relent and pack three pairs of shoes.  My everyday, go everywhere, do everything shoe is a pair of flat espadrilles.  They can cope with a day’s sightseeing, a trip to the beach and for a casual dinner.  They go with skirts, dresses, pants and shorts, making them an all round winner.  My second pair of shoes is a strappy pair of sandals to wear in the evening.  I choose a pair that go with my pants, my dresses and my skirts.  Sitting under the restaurant table only you will know you are wearing the same sandals!  Lastly, I do pack flipflops for round the pool, or for casual shopping trips.

flat striped espadrilles

I love espadrilles for resort vacations

Swimming costume and cover up.  I normally pack two swimming costumes – in case one pair is a little slow to dry.  What you pack or use as a cover up is really up to you.  Sarongs, kaftans, or simple tunics all work well, and can do double duty as part of your outfit away from the pool if chosen carefully.

Jewellery.  Even for Luxury Travel I leave my good jewellery at home and go for chunky costume statement pieces.  A pair of great earrings and a couple of pretty chunky necklaces will brighten up any outfit and help you shine at night

Underwear and accessories.  Three sets of underwear – one on, one off and one being washed is really all anyone needs.  A couple of belts will change up the look of day or night time outfits.  A waterproof tote bag is a must pack for me for round the pool, for day trips and for shopping.

Toiletries.  Whatever you need to feel beautiful.  Plus lashings of sunscreen of course.  Normally I take a small 3-1-1 compliant bottle and buy extra at my destination.

Reading material.  Whether it’s highbrow literature, trashy airport novels or a high end fashion magazine, make sure you have plenty of reading material for lounging round the pool.

Packing for a luxury resort trip is really no different to any other packing list.  Think capsule wardrobe in coordinating colours, multitasking pieces and accessorise, accessorise, accessorise.  Luxury Travel is also one bag travel!

Author’s note:  I was assisted in this post by Elegant Resorts.

All photos author’s own except as credited.

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6 Comments on “Real life one bag travel: packing for a luxury travel resort vacation”

  1. Cindy Heazlit 06/10/2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Travel with a well-packed carry on ensures that you arrive stress free! No lost luggage, no worries on connections, no exhaustion from hauling bags around. What a great start! A coordinated wardrobe means the relaxed mood continues – no hard decisions on what to wear. Everything goes together easily because you’ve done your planning ahead of time. No stress = high luxury.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 06/10/2014 at 5:11 pm #

      Agree completely Cindy! There is never anything luxurious about stressing what to wear or how to get that case closed!

  2. Anda 11/10/2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Good judgement, Jo. If I look at your list I’d say you have plenty of outfits there and if you can fit them all into a carry on is even better. I like to travel light and that’s not because I don’t like to carry a big suitcase, but because on two occasions that my luggage arrived two days later than me at the destinations and that totally ruined my mood.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 12/10/2014 at 8:01 am #

      That list will definitely fit in one carry on bag as long as you don’t go crazy with books, magazines and other odds and ends.

      You’re absolutely spot on Anda – regardless of your class of travel and the standard of your resort losing your baggage is NEVER first class!

  3. asthaguptaa 13/10/2014 at 9:06 pm #

    Such useful tips there! Lots of reasons to follow your blog, it’s lovely 🙂
    Hoping you drop by my blog some time too!

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