08 Jun Surviving Summer Travel, Part I
I’ve done my fair share of traveling in my 33 years on this planet. It all started at the age of 5 when I began earning my frequent flier miles on various airlines. A few stints abroad really tested my ability to pack my life into just two suitcases – a nearly impossible task. What was more difficult was packing it all – plus more – when I moved back stateside. And when I worked as a recruiter for two years (on the road 8 months a year), I really had to learn to pack efficiently or suffer the consequences.
This post will focus on my TOP FIVE PLANNING & ORGANIZING TIPS FOR PACKING to help you determine what to pack, and how to organize it.
Tip #1: Plan and organize before you pack.
I know this sounds obvious, but think about where you are going and what you’ll be doing, then write down a list of items you think you’ll need for each day/activity. You could also find a Pack This list online or at The Container Store. Knowing the activities and type of weather you need to pack for will help you decide what you must bring. Be critical – only bring what you absolutely need. Ladies, I know this is hard, but you’ll be thankful you were selective if there’s no one to help you lug your bag from point A to point B.
Tip #2: Invest in packing accessories.
This includes: bags for your shoes, a bag for your delicates, soft cosmetic bags, a hanging-clothes folder, etc. The Container Store has a great selection of packing accessories. I invested in the Pack Happy Bags (photo above) years ago and use them every time I travel (here are similar bags, or cubes, from The Container Store; I also like these options, and these). Trust me on the shoe bags – you do not want your shoes loose in your luggage! Protecting delicates also keeps them concealed if a TSA officer ends up rummaging through your luggage in front of everyone. Soft cosmetic bags are great for corralling awkward or smaller items (jewelry or belts), as well as electric cords/chargers. Finally, a folder allows you to keep more delicate fabrics and suits wrinkle free. You want to invest in a good toiletry bag or dopp kit. I would suggest a small one to hold your non-liquid items, as you’ll be packing your liquid items separately in a quart-sized bag that will be easily accessible at security. Bulkier toiletry bags like the caddy ones are only good if you will always be checking a bag. If you choose this DO NOT PUT YOUR MEDICATIONS in your checked luggage (this includes vitamins). Other helpful and cheap bags you should have on hand for traveling include: plastic (Ziplock) bags of all sizes and large trash bags to protect your clothing in the event it sits out on the runway during a downpour (put one bag in the bottom of your suitcase and place another on top before you zip it closed; or better yet, pack inside the trash bags for full coverage). Trash bags may also come in handy should you run into a dreaded bed bug situation (eek!).
Tip #3: Only pack clothing that you can use in multiple outfits.
The key to packing light is to pack items that you can mix-and-match. The same goes for shoes – and try to limit to 2-3 pairs (the bulkiest, of course, you’ll wear on the plane). Be creative and plan out your outfits when envisioning your trip. STICK TO NEUTRALS (especially with pants/shorts/skirts), which will allow you to mix and match with ease. Allow your accessories to add color, flair and personality to your basic clothes. Another tip that belongs in this category is to pack clothing items that can be LAYERED. In general, you can bring about three tops for every pair of pants/shorts/skirt.
Tip #4: Fold it, or roll it?
Roll clothes with forgiving fabrics (workout pants, jersey fabrics, jeans, and cotton tee shirts). This really does work when you do it right. Rolling also changes the density so it doesn’t seem as heavy as a stack of folded clothes. Fold items that are more delicate (fabrics that wrinkle). You might want to invest in this little gadget to help you get the perfect fold, every time.
Tip #5: Utilize open spaces.
Pack socks, leggings, belts, scarves, bathing suits and even tee shirts in shoes/boots. That’s all free space that you need to be using. Once you pack your main clothes, tuck smaller items that didn’t fit in the shoes/boots into free spaces on the sides. Get creative!
In my next Travel Series blog I will address my TOP FIVE PACKING TIPS, with a step-by-step guide on how to get it all in your bags. Stay tuned!
Have specific questions about packing (how to pack for a weekend in one bag; how to pack for a 2 week Mediterranean cruise; how to better organize what you pack, etc.)? Let me know and I’ll be sure to answer your questions in a future Travel Series blog.