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I spent it all on clothes by the looks of things...

A weekend in Amsterdam: hand luggage only

I don’t think I’ve travelled with just hand luggage for years and years. In fact, I know the last time I did: it was in 2010 when I went to Ibiza for work for one night only. That was also the last time I went to a nightclub and the last time I went to bed after 4am. It’s probably for the best, as I’m not sure it’s that cool to be talking about the joys of John Lewis’ click and collect service on the terrace at Pacha while drinking water that cost more than a bottle of Lidl champagne.

Everything I took with me. It all fit in a hand luggage size suitcase with room to spare. The only item I don’t list below is the black K t‑shirt. i bought that in New York from Kith. Didn’t end up wearing it in the end.

But last weekend we went on a family weekend to Amsterdam. It was much fun, so I thought I’d do a little rundown on what we did and what I took with me.

The pretty pretty streets (and canals) of Amsterdam

WHERE WE STAYED: I left it all to the last minute, which is typical of me and my meno-brain these days, so there wasn’t much choice. I plumped for De Jonker Urban Studios and Suites rather than a hotel, and I was very pleasantly surprised as it was really spacious and in a lovely old building. The suite we had slept five, had a small kitchen and was £200 a night. It’s a bit of a walk out of the centre – about 15 mins – but in a good area next to the zoo.

Healthy and tasty at De Plantage vs Dutch pub snacks available at any bar.

WHERE WE ATE: The only place I booked in advance was a brunch at De Plantage, right next to our hotel. Beautiful setting and a great eclectic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern menu. We also had excellent pizza at De PizzaBakkers, which has a few outlets in Amsterdam, and first-rate Italian food at Assaggi. Snacks consisted mainly of cheese sticks and bitterballen at the various bars we stopped off at, and we had exceedingly good cocktails at the Bluespoon bar in the Andaz hotel.

Coldplay at the Johan Cruyff Arena

WHAT WE DID: The main impetus for this trip was to see Coldplay at the Johan Cruyff Arena. We love a football stadium and a big gig, and I’m lucky enough to still work with Coldplay after 10 years so I can bag a few guest-list tickets now and then. If you ever get a chance to see them live, I urge you to do so. It’s the most joyous experience. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my 16-year-old so animated.

We also went on a bike tour of the city. I think the best way to see Amsterdam is either via the water or on a bike. We were feeling energetic so we booked a two-hour guided bike tour with Yellow Bike, which cost £20 per person and was totally worth it. The rest of the time, we just wandered. We didn’t go to any museums because teenage boys aren’t that interested in them, and it seems you have to book everything in advance; the Anne Frank House museum books up three months ahead. I haven’t got that level of forethought, I’m afraid. My only advice would be to steer clear of the central area where all the weed shops are as it’s like a shit version of Camden, but the outer streets are a joy of small alleys, wonky houses, tiny bars and cool shops.

Howard and Hilda at the flea market

SHOPPING: The best area I found for shopping is a district called The 9 Streets. There are lots of great independent boutiques and stylish brand stores like Rails, American Vintage, Ganni, APC and more. If you have teens or you also love vintage, head to Waterlooplien where there’s a big flea market every Monday to Saturday. It’s way cheaper than the UK for retro clothes – really good prices.

WHAT I PACKED: Let’s start with a selection of beauty items. I took a bit more than this, but these products deserve a special mention. I managed to fit them ALL into this clear makeup bag which went through airport security with no bother. I took a tester sample of my perfume, and small bottles of shampoo and conditioner that came in beauty advent calendars. The Dermalogica moisturiser and Erborian CC cream come in travel sizes. The Seated Queen evening cleanser also doubles up as a night cream, and these little Nudestix work a treat instead of blusher, bronzer and highlighter. If you’re ordering anything from Look Fantastic, don’t forget to try my code WEARSMYMONEY for a discount.

hand luggage only packing for a city break

  1. L’Oréal telescopic mascara (excellent mascara)
  2. Erborian CC creme (always a must use code KATE20 for 20% off at Erborian)
  3. Ultra Violette SPF50 mattifying sunscreen
  4. Dermalogica Intensive moisture balance
  5. Living Proof vanishing oil (best frizz fighter)
  6. Beauty Pie Superluminous under eye cream
  7. Nudestix Beachy nudes kit
  8. Bobbi Brown crushed shine jelly stick (glossy but with excellent colour)
  9. The Seated Queen cleanser/cold cream/night mask
  10. Lily England double sided clear make-up bag


I always pack in outfits, not in items. This helps with the propensity to overpack. I knew we weren’t going anywhere fancy, that weather could be changeable and that we’d be doing a lot of walking, so no dresses – just jeans and tops. Nothing groundbreaking here, I’m afraid.

These are the actual items I took (where possible). As usual, I’ve got other similar options in the scroll section, and I’ve added a couple of similar comfortable trainers and sandals too.

hand luggage only packing for a city break

  1. Sezane Betty knitted collared cardigan 
  2. Wardrobe 44 black and white stripe t shirt 
  3. Paige Annessa cropped wide leg jeans 
  4. Skims seamless sculpt bra 
  5. Adidas Handball Spezial trainers


Stand-out items here being the Slow Love smiley tank top – the perfect layer when it’s warm, but not THAT warm – and the Loewe reversible belt. It adds something extra to so many simple outfits, and I’ve worn it well over 20 times already since I bought it back in February.

hand luggage only packing for a city break

  1. & Other Stories relaxed fit t shirt 
  2. Slow Love Smiley knitted tank top
  3. Levis pleated baggy Dad jeans
  4. Loewe reversible black / tan leather belt
  5. Loewe small leather puzzle bag
  6. Adidas Samba leather trainers


I’ve cheated on the packing here as I bought these trousers while I was in Amsterdam, but they did fit in my hand luggage on the way back so it’s not that much of a cheat. A good pair of neutral trousers will take you anywhere. This denim jacket from Sessun has been my most worn jacket of the summer so far; it’s soft and light and the perfect boxy shape. Shout out to editbrandcollection who have made THE perfect white T‑shirt. It will go to the top of the plain white T‑shirt leaderboard next time I do that chart.

hand luggage only packing for a city break

  1. Monica Vinader Flow medium hoop earrings (use code KATEH20MV for 20% off) 
  2. Sessun Leone denim jacket 
  3. Edit Brand Collection white cotton t shirt 
  4. Ralph Lauren cotton crop wide leg trousers 
  5. Mango Romo medium shoulder bag 
  6. Teva original Universal sandals 


Sunglasses: a must. Never forget those. This little case from John Lewis is the perfect carry-on bag: it’s a good price and it comes in a few different colours. I always take noise-cancelling headphones for the plane. I like my Sony ones, but my husband just bought the new AirPods and I’m already jealous because they are WAY more space-saving.

I didn’t end up wearing my shorts (not warm enough) or my jumper (not cold enough), but shortie pyjamas can double up as an extra shirt with jeans if you spill something down your other T‑shirts.

hand luggage only packing for a city break

  1. Alexis Amor Willa blue sunglasses 
  2. Uniqlo striped cotton jumper 
  3. Uniqlo linen blend short sleeved set 
  4. Uniqlo crop rib vest top 
  5. John Lewis ANYDAY cabin case 
  6. Mango denim front pocket shorts 
  7. Sony noise cancelling headphones 

I don’t think there will be a blog next week; I have the in-laws back and I’m also heading off to Bulgaria next weekend to visit an old school friend. But if there’s interest, I’ll do a similar Bulgaria blog the following week.

K x

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