I spent the last weekend in August in Hawkes Bay with two girlfriends. It was quite an adventure to be without our husbands or children. Our anticipatory emails were headed: Three go crazy in Haumoana.

We weren't sure we'd know what to do with ourselves but had a strong feeling we'd think of something.

We caused a mini ruckus on Friday morning at Auckland airport before we even left when my friend's two chardonnay bottles clanged loudly together in their little cooler bag.

People looked and laughed including a mother who was helping her daughter check in.


"Don't sit near them," she warned.

Our weekend had only just begun and already concerned parents were advising their teenagers to steer well clear of us.

Celebrity chef Josh Emett cooked us dinner at Craggy Range winery on Friday night which was very nice of him.

Dinner table discussion turned to my excellent packing skills. Because I'd had no check-in luggage I was revving up the RAV4 rental car at Napier airport while my companions were still waiting for their suitcases to come off the aircraft.

They were particularly impressed to learn that I travel in exactly the same manner on long-haul flights.

In the last fifteen months I've taken only a soft-sided carry-on bag on three separate overseas trips: a week in New York; a week in Orlando, Florida; and nine days in Europe. Here's my guide to travelling light.

Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight: There's no point taking up valuable space by packing bulky items such as jeans, coats and platform wedges.

Take easy-care clothes: Garments that can be hand-washed in the bathroom sink and left to drip-dry over the bath are essential.


Ration shoes: Just take a pair of ultra-lightweight sneakers for trekking around the shops, tourist spots and theme parks by day. Wear the wedges at night.

Pack like a minimalist: Take two sporty/summery dresses and a lightweight cardigan for day. Add a top or two for teaming with jeans for casual evenings. If formal functions are on the agenda, pack one or two no-crush cocktail frocks.

Head for summer: If you need thermals, jerseys and ski jackets for a winter holiday then travelling this light isn't a viable option.

Load up your handbag: Put comparatively heavy objects such as books and the little plastic bag containing liquid make-up and face creams in your handbag so the carry-on stays as light as possible.

I read recently in some glossy magazine that while travelling with seventeen Louis Vuitton trunks was once the idealised way to roam the globe, now having carry-on only is the ultimate status symbol.

It's immensely satisfying to say 'None' when airline personnel ask how many bags you'll be checking through for a long-haul flight.

On a purely practical level, it's fast, efficient and convenient - and that's why I decided to share my six tips.

You're welcome.