Some people hate packing for a trip, but I actually kind of love it. The key to packing success is to prepare EARLY – leaving it until the last minute will ultimately result in over-packing a lot of stress.
As someone who once spent a year living out of a suitcase, I’ve picked up some packing knowledge and now try to keep my luggage as minimal as possible. You can easily pack for a trip that is 7 days long or less in a carry on sized suitcase. No excuses.
I’ll be kicking off a packing list series that is city specific soon, but read on for my general packing tips.
First, The Suitcase
Do yourself a favor and invest in a decent suitcase. It doesn’t have to be designer or cost the same as a long hospital stay, but it should be sturdy with an adjustable handle and fit the overhead bin size requirements (see here). I like a hard-sided case, like this one. Whatever you do, MAKE SURE THE BAG HAS 4 WHEELS, NOT 2. You know that person that is sprinting for their gate and their bag keeps flipping over as they run because it has to balance on only 2 wheels? That doesn’t have to be you.
Do Your Research
The week before your trip, check the weather for your destination and plan accordingly. If there will be a ton of rain (sorry), consider bringing appropriate outerwear, footwear, and an umbrella. If it’s going to be hot and sunny every day (lucky), you probably don’t need to bring that extra jacket “just in case.” The key is to remind yourself that you only need to pack for the scenarios THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE HAPPENING, not every single weather eventuality. And if it suddenly rains or gets a bit chilly? It’s pretty easy to buy a jacket or umbrella at most destinations. Or you get a little wet and cold. You’ll live.
Limit Your Options
If you struggle with over-packing, lay out everything that you think you will need to bring on your bed. Then, go through and cut the amount in half. It might sound extreme, but vacation is not the time for bringing “outfit options”. Focus on the pieces in your wardrobe that can pull double duty. A cashmere cardigan can be worn over a tee for sightseeing or buttoned up with a lacy bra underneath for a night out. A simple t-shirt dress can be paired with flats and a denim jacket for brunch and then with heels and a necklace for dinner. Nothing should make it into your suitcase that can only be worn once on your trip, the only exception being formal attire if you have a black tie event or wedding to attend.
Consider Your Fabrics
Avoid packing anything that your know will get super wrinkly. Opt for items made of cotton or jersey knits that will maintain their shape. To avoid wrinkles even further, sandwich your items in-between layers of plastic dry cleaning bags. I also make sure to always bring the travel size bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser for a quick clothes refresh.
The 3 Shoe Maximum
Shoes take up a ton of precious space, so it’s best to whittle your selection down to 3 pairs at most, counting the ones you wear on the plane. Make sure all 3 pairs are super comfortable and suitable for the environment you will be traveling to – heels and cobblestone streets do not mix.
Pack your suitcase with your bulkiest items first, and then fill in the remaining nooks and crannies with accessories. Pretty add-ons like silk scarves and jewelry take up minimal space and help you create different looks with your staple wardrobe items. To keep necklaces from getting tangled in transport, I use a jewelry roll like this one.
Double Duty Beauty
Do not be tempted by the siren song that is the travel sized beauty section at Sephora. You do not need a travel sized can of self tanner or 15 different lipglosses. Instead, bring only your everyday beauty essentials. To edit your makeup bag even further, select products that can be used multiple ways. My favorites include Tata Harper Lip + Cheek stain (instead of a separate blush and lip color), Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (can be used to wash both your body and your clothes in the sink if needed), Tarte BB Cream (both a tinted moisturizer and sunscreen), and It’s a 10 Hair Product (instead of individual hairsprays and serums).
Double Check Your Essentials
The night before your trip, make sure you have packed your absolute essentials. If you forget anything else besides the below, you’ll still be in good shape
-Driver’s License or other government issued ID
-Passport if going overseas
-Foreign Currency if needed
-Cash and credit card
I hope that was helpful! Do any of you have other packing tips you swear by? I’d love to hear!
Photo by Emily Barbeau