What to pack and how to create a capsule wardrobe for your hotel barge vacation

If you’ve planned a boating holiday this summer you may be wondering how much you can take on board and then exactly what to pack. Have you hit the shops already? Or are you mooching through the summer sales to fill your bag?

We may be in France but you don’t have to exercise Parisian chic unless you really want to. The style aboard a hotel barge tends to be comfortable smart casual. There’s no expectation that you dress for dinner, but if you wish to spruce up your attire or change, then please do.

Now, what to pack…

If you don’t already work from a capsule wardrobe, now is the perfect time to work such magic on your closet. Creating a capsule wardrobe is the easiest way to wear the things you feel great in while streamlining your closet. It’ll give you the freedom to pick something quickly and feel styled and confident. In a boating context it will enable you to pack light and allow for layering – the best way to keep warm or cool on board.

So when it comes to packing for your trip consider the following three pointers:

  1. Basic and versatile
    For a seven night trip pull out 10-20 basic and versatile items (clothes, shoes, scarves and jewellery) that can be worn in various combinations. Lay your items out on your bed – how many tops could be worn with any of the trousers, skirts or shorts? You want to avoid having set outfits and to aim for being able to interchange tops with bottoms.When you think about shoes, what have you got that is comfortable, not too high (stilettos and boats don’t really mix) that could work with multiple outfits? Ideally you want shoes that look stylish with a pair of jeans but are dressy enough to work with a skirt one evening. It would be remiss of us to exclude the boat shoe from our packing – comfy, flat, suitable for pottering around onboard, cycling or walking along the towpath and wandering around towns and attractions when you stop off.
  2. Repeat but mix
    This is all about mixing and matching. Even with just two tops, two bottoms, one scarf and one necklace you can create up to 12 different looks by wearing different tops with different bottoms, adding or excluding an accessory. If you’ve got long hair, thinking about hair up or hair down can also change a look completely too.
    A plain top and capri pants will provide a comfortable and casual daytime outfit that can be ‘upcycled’ by adding a blazer and scarf or piece of jewellery for dinner out. The boat shoe would compliment both of these outfits as would a low heel.
  3. Accessorise
    Choosing accessories is the perfect way to create new styles while keeping your packing minimalist. Pack 2-3 scarves and a similar number of necklaces, some statement, some subtle, and you’ll be amazed how different your outfits can look with these small space items.

In the words of personal stylist Lindsay Punch, “The benefit of creating a capsule wardrobe is to define your favourite clothes and ensure you wear them, rather than save them for best. Remixing them regularly and shopping less often but more intentionally keeps your collection perfectly suited to your style and the size of your suitcase.” Lindsay has dressed some of the biggest names in the world. She spent many years at Ralph Lauren and Harrods before flying solo as a personal shopper and independent stylist.

Back on board , feel free to ask us or your chosen boat owner-operator for their packing tips according to your destination and itinerary.