What We Packed – Beach Holiday in Spain

The Trip

This holiday sees Hubby and I head off to Torremolinos on the Spanish Costa Del Sol, staying in a large hotel (the Melia Costa Del Sol) for six nights. The September weather should still be warm enough for sunbathing, but more comfortable than the searing heat of high summer. Evenings may be a little cooler, and there's a chance of light rain and cloud on some days.

On hot days we like to chill out and relax, with nothing too strenuous. But if temperatures drop a little we'll take the opportunity to explore a bit more. As such we'll pack primarily beach wear, plus a few light layers and some smarter clothes for evenings.

Flying with UK budget airline Monarch, I shunned paying for the ‘checked luggage' option when booking the tickets – I know from past experience we can easily travel with hand luggage (for free). However, there was a catch… unlike other budget carriers, Monarch also enforce a weight restriction on hand luggage with a limit of 10kg per person, and it appeared that this limit is per bag. Having planned to take our Cabin Max wheeled rucksack plus one regular rucksack, I know everything will fit in and the total weight will be easily under 20kg between us, but can I distribute the weight so that the Cabin Max comes in under 10kg?? A quick check of the ‘hold luggage' options showed that checking in a suitcase would cost £40 (£20 each way). I refuse to pay this (it's almost the same cost as buying another cabin case!) so somehow I will have to make the weight limit!

The Packing

Leaving the UK on a pleasant Autumn day, I will travel in:

And for him:

  • ‘Rohan' style walking trousers with detachable legs (can be worn as shorts or trousers) with belt
  • Collared polo shirt
  • Lightweight pullover
  • Comfy trainers

The wheeled backpack is far larger than the other rucksack and will hold most of our things, but packing everything in there will make it too heavy. So I opt to put shoes (the heaviest items) in the smaller bag along with toiletries (which we'll need easy access to at security anyway). In the main Cabin Max rucksack we've packed, for me:

  • 6 x underwear
  • 3 x sockettes (stuffed inside sandals)
  • Light sleepwear
  • 1 set of swimwear (I prefer a tankini vest with board shorts)
  • 1 beach cover-up vest
  • 2 strappy vests
  • 2 smart/casual t-shirts
  • 1 pair smart/casual shorts
  • 1 linen skirt
  • 1 tunic top
  • 1 pair leggings
  • 1 pair flat sandals (smart but comfortable for walking in too)
  • 1 pair kitten heels for evenings
  • 1 set of jewellery
  • Packable sun hat
  • Books/puzzles/games (in the front pockets)
  • 1 foldable water bottle
  • 1 Cabin Max Pack Away Day Sack

And for him:

  • 6 x underwear
  • 1 set of swimwear
  • 2 beach cover-up t-shirts
  • 2 smarter collared polo shirts
  • 2 short-sleeved evening shirts
  • 1 pair smart/casual shorts
  • 1 pair jeans
  • Sunhat

Our smaller rucksack then holds:

  • His beach sandals (1 pair)
  • His smarter shoes (1 pair)
  • 3 x his socks and 6 x his sockettes (stuffed inside the shoes)
  • toiletries2 pouches of make-up and toiletries, decanted into small bottles
  • 1 pouch of non-liquid toiletries e.g. hair brushes, razor, microfibre flannel (can be used to remove make-up), first aid supplies
  • 2 x sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Phones, iPad and solar powered charger

I can also carry a handbag containing my travel wallet with tickets/passports/insurance etc.

As usual I like the ‘rolling' method of packing – placing similar items on top of each other, folding the pile in half and then rolling up tightly into sausage shapes. Once this is done the whole pile of clothes looks much more manageable, and it then only takes a few moments to place everything in the case.

Our luggageWith packing shoes in the smaller bag, everything else fits in the wheeled backpack with ease. I placed books into the front pockets so they were easy to remove just in case we were over the weight limit, and there was a small space in the smaller rucksack to add in our pullovers/wrap if we got too warm en-route.

The moment of truth then – the weigh in! Doing this on household scales may not be 100% accurate, so I wanted a little breathing space. The large bag came in around 9kg and the second rucksack + handbag at about 7kg. Perfect!

The Journey

Usually I would check in for flights online before leaving home, meaning you can bypass the whole airport check-in and go straight to security. However, I found that Monarch don't allow this unless you also book a seat (for a fee). On arriving at the airport check-in, there must have been around 200 people queing for 5-6 desks… it didn't look good, until an assistant shouted for all those travelling with hand luggage only to use a different desk where there were just 3 people in the queue! I was very pleased!! And in the end our bags were never weighed either – perhaps they just ‘looked' compliant.

Once away, we used most things but I could have omitted one vest, one t-shirt and leggings (for me) and the spare shorts and a few sockettes (for him).

PromonadeOverall Torremonlinos is a very touristy resort, with both Spanish and international visitors. So although the Spanish tend to dress smartly, they were in ‘holiday' mode. Shorts and t-shirts or vests were very much the norm during the day when out and about. There is a long flat promonade along the seafront that stretches for miles, and is popular with joggers and skaters so sportswear was common too.

Evening wear included shorts (smart ones) or trousers, although it's worth noting that our hotel did not allow shorts or flip-flops in the dining room for dinner – there may be similar restrictions in other hotels, although not in the local restaurants that we saw. Most of the restaurants were casual and we didn't see anywhere you would need to really dress up. Whilst the Spanish also like their shoes the majority of ladies wore smart flats or low wedge heels, even at night. I did wear my kitten heels a couple of times (as I'd packed them) but they weren't essential and they were slightly uncomfortable as my feet had obviously swollen in the heat. The paths were flat enough to walk on but there is a big hill with lots of steps to climb if you choose, and this is easier in flats.

BeachMost of our clothing could be mixed or matched for day or evening wear, and if you're by the pool or on the beach all day you don't tend to wear much other than swimwear. This I rinsed in the sink each evening with a blob of shampoo and it dried on the balcony.

I was pleased with everything we took, and a further advantage of packing light is that it's so much quicker – not just to pack initially but also to unpack at your destination and re-pack before departure. I used to dread the final evening – just when you want to make the most of your last night out you have the burden of packing again, but it hardly took any time at all. And there's less washing to do when you get home!!


Posted by Emma – WhatToWearOnHoliday.com