If there really were a packing 101 class, I wish I would have taken it. Two things to know about me and packing: one, I HATE packing, and two, I over-pack a little….alright, let’s be honest, A LOT! However, since I started traveling for work a couple of years ago my packing skills have drastically improved. When you are traveling weekly and needing to pack in a short amount of time, you pretty much put yourself through your own 101 course. Work trips I now have down to a science, and can always go with just a carry-on and my purse/computer bag. Personal trips, I still over-pack (I mean, come on, that won’t change…a girl needs options!), but I am much more organized and less stressed during the packing process. Since it took me until my late 20’s to get into my packing groove, I figured I should share the wealth of what I’ve learned along the way, and what really makes packing easy for me now. I’m using my trip to Europe this summer as my example (all pictures are from that trip), since that was a major task. I thought about what I would wear for months leading up to that vacation!
1. Think of a color scheme, and stick to it.
When you just grab random stuff, you’ll notice it start to pile up very quickly. If you have a navy dress, you need shoes to match. Then you throw in that LBD you love, and now those shoes might not go, so add another pair to the pile. I promise you, you will hit the airline weight limit. But, if you pack within a color scheme, life (and your luggage’s weight) will improve. For my trip to Europe I decided I would take an array of navy/blue, pink, army green and white. It makes choosing outfits to mix and match so much easier. Plus your jacket will usually go with everything, your shoes will be versatile, and jewelry will complement every ensemble and you also won’t need a big selection of purses.
2. Have a toiletries kit stocked and ready to go at any time.
This was by far the best thing I did when I started traveling for work. I used to get so stressed out, running around like a chicken with no head, when trying to round up all of my toiletries for each trip. Seemed liked so much work for a full vacation, let alone a one night business trip. So, I decided to buy double of everything I used on a daily basis, put it all into a nice toiletries kit, and have it ready to go whenever I needed. I’m talking your daily skin and beauty essentials, along with things like band-aids, safety pins, a lint roller, a round brush, makeup brushes, headache medicine. You name it, I probably have a small quantity of it when I travel. My toiletries kit is not that big, since I didn’t want it hogging space in my suitcase, so I just carry smaller quantities and refill as needed. But I can pack now for a work trip in 20 minutes. Guys, the stress of this part of packing used to make it take like two hours. Huge time-saver!
3.When it comes to jewelry, sometimes less really is more.
As much as I love thinking of vacation as a time to showcase all of my fun baubles I don’t wear enough at home….it’s not always the case. If it’s going to be hot, I’ve learned I probably won’t want to wear a big chunky necklace and bangles. So I usually lay out what I want, and then take away items that are heaviest and that I think might be the least versatile. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s best to have lots of options, and I still do, I just try to scale back and be more practical.
4. Never worry about getting cold, pack a shawl or wrap.
Planes are always freezing, restaurants are chilly, you just never know when you might need a little warmth. You can truly use a wrap in any climate. And if you get one like mine from ARMigami, you can use it as so much more than a wrap….think bathing suit cover up/sarong (like I used here in Cannes), a blanket to cover your legs, something to sit on at the beach or park, a scarf, even a shirt. It’s functional and a fun style accessory. I am always, always, always cold, so this is a must for me to pack!
5. Shower caps – not just for the shower anymore.
Think of all the places the soles of your shoes have been. It might be exciting to think where they have roamed, but not so exciting to think about how dirty those journeys have made them. Do you want all of that grossness getting on your clean vacation-ready clothing? No way! Fear not, all you have to do is stock up on plastic shower caps (I always take them from hotels so I can have a stockpile at home), then wrap your shoes in them. Voila, germs and dirt aren’t getting on your clothing, and each pair of shoes stays nicely together.
6. Make lugging your hats through the airport a piece of cake.
I always take a hat, or two, with me on vacation. Baseball caps are easy to pack, but when you’re looking at a fedora or sun hat, not so much. You don’t want to scrunch them and worry about them losing shape, right? All you need to solve this problem is ribbon. Cut the ribbon to about 10-12 inches. Secure to the inside of the hat (on the edge that lines your head – not sure what it’s called but it’s usually where sweat accumulates – I know, that’s gross), with safety pins on each side. Now all you have to do is drape the ribbon over your suitcase handle. If you have multiple hats, just layer them and put the ribbon through both. Just be sure you put it on top of your bag that goes in the overhead or under your seat. See, no scrunching, and easy to tote around!
7. Keep it light, but be prepared.
Buy lightweight luggage. With 50 pound weight limits on most airlines, even for overseas travel, this is key to allowing you to bring more of what you want and need. The lighter the luggage, the more you’ll be able to take. In most cases, especially so for vacation, we often can guarantee we will be coming home with more than we take. (Souvenirs!) In order to be able to easily cart these things home, I recommend taking a fold-up duffel bag, like the one I have from The Container Store (shown below). You could even just take one of those small little grocery bags that fold into a pouch. Bringing something to carry home your new goodies will help you avoid having to buy something on your trip, or fitting everything into a paper bag that may rip.
8. For a big trip, take time to prep.
Think about where you will be going, what activities you will be doing, what the weather will be like. Start planning your outfits ahead of time. For this trip I used my drying rack to lay out what I wanted to take as it came to mind. I started getting outfits ready a few weeks out, choosing jewelry to match, shoes to coordinate, etc.Laying it all out as I thought of it made it simple to remember what I wanted to take and really easy to actually get it all in the suitcase. Yes, it cluttered up my house for a few weeks, but it was worth it to make my stress diminish.
9. Use compression bags and organizers.
Using packing organizers is a great way to keep like minded items together. If you have anything that’s a little bulkier, compression bags will help give you a little more room. Plus if you have stuff in these organizers, as things get dirty you can put everything into one, zip it and won’t have to worry about your clean clothes smelling. I use the Eagle Creek line from The Container Store and really like them.
Do you have any tips for packing? I always love hearing new ideas!
Signed with Style,