I’m often asked by everyone how I’m able to always pack so effortlessly, and by “everyone,” I really just mean my mom. I do have a few tips that I always follow when it comes to packing, though, whether it’s to fly halfway across the world or a drive down the street to my best friend’s house for the night. So to make your suitcase troubles a little less stressful, follow some of my tricks below:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
My friends will ask me before a trip if I’ve packed, and I’m pretty sure it’s so they can make fun of me when my answer is not only yes, but that I’ve been packed for a week, maybe two. Waiting until the last minute means you’re going to forget things, and I’m the queen of forgetting things…. Seriously, I’ve forgotten to pack underwear before. I’m not saying to be as dramatic as I am, but pack at least a few days prior to leaving. This leaves you with time to remember items you may have missed during a rushed last-minute job…. or you can continue to pack as you’re walking out the door. If that’s the case, then use my favorite checklist to help make sure you remembered everything (or download the digital version here.)
2. Keep a travel-friendly toiletries bag packed.
I always keep a toiletries bag packed. There’s nothing more annoying than getting somewhere and not having a toothbrush or deodorant, and who wants to do that awkward let -me-put lotion-on-my-armpits-and-hope-that-works thing. To save myself the trouble of forgetting anything, I keep a makeup bag full of my favorite everyday products, but travel-sized (Tip: Take advantage of free samples from Sephora to fill this bag). It’s easy to grab and throw in your luggage, and it leaves more time to worry about the real important things that need packed, like shoes.
Don’t forget to keep your liquids inside a plastic bag to prevent leaks, or screw a piece of plastic between the bottle and cap.
3. Use shower caps to cover shoes.
Covering the bottom of your shoes will help prevent the soles from causing any unwanted dirt marks on clean clothes, and it will especially come in handy if your trip involves any sort of hiking and mud. *Flashback to those muddy boots in Iceland.*
4. Don’t take the large suitcase.
No matter how long the trip is or if there’s the need to pack huge coats, I always try to fit everything in a medium-sized suitcase or smaller. If you’re travelling to multiple destinations, you won’t have to worry about dragging a heavy oversized suitcase to each stop (or up three flights of stairs when you find out your Air BNB doesn’t have an elevator.) Here are a few ways I save space:
Roll clothing instead of folding it and place vertically in your suitcase. Since everything you have packed will be visible, this will also keep your luggage organized throughout your trip because digging for items won’t be necessary.
Choose items that can be mix-and-matched. You were probably wondering how a fashionista like myself keeps her clothing packing to a minimum. Well, I’ll pack clothing items that all fall into the same color family – think all neutrals or cool tones – so I’m able to turn 5 items into 10 different outfits. Plus, if it’s a cold weather trip, no one is going to see anything besides your jacket anyway. So instead of packing an extra sweater, grab a scarf for a pop of color. Be sure to pack garbage bags to keep smelly socks and dirty underwear separate from clothes that will be worn again.
If there is the need for some extra layers this trip, wear your coat on the flight. Airplanes are cold, so skip packing the heavy jacket and carry it on with you to double as a blanket.
Use the space inside your shoes to pack a curling iron/flat iron, umbrella, socks, snacks, etc. You get the picture.
Leave the giant vitamin and prescription bottles at home. Instead, take the exact amount of daily vitamins/medicines you’ll need in a plastic bag. This will help keep track of how many days you’ve taken them if your regular schedule is thrown off by a time change.
5. Use your personal item wisely.
Instead of bringing a small purse as your personal item, opt to take a larger tote or backpack. I like to move my wallet and essentials into my backpack, pack the empty purse in my suitcase and switch back over to my purse once I reach my destination. If you’re flying on a budget like I do, chances are your flight doesn’t come with wifi, so use the extra baggage room to bring along your iPad, a book to read, coloring books, or, my favorite pastime, snacks. A pen will also come in handy for any customs forms that need to be filled out on international flights.
If you are headed overseas, make sure you keep an adapter easily accessible too because you’ll need it to charge your devices during those long layovers while abroad. I like to use this one here because you can charge 3 devices at once, and it’s universal, so you won’t have to buy a different one for each country you visit. (Note: You cannot plug your curling iron/flat iron into this. You will need a voltage converter for that.)
Now that you’re all packed, hopefully you’ve saved enough room to bring home some souvenirs. So make sure to keep a luggage scale handy to help prevent any surprise overweight fees at the airport.