I love traveling. Packing? Not so much. I generally leave it until the last minute and end up trying to sort through mounds of clothes and making a giant mess. As I’m sure you can imagine, it ends up majorly stressing me out.
Over the last few years, I’ve developed a method to the madness. That way, I can spend more time feeling excited to travel and less time as a giant stress ball of anxiety.
I may not technically be a professional packer, but I’m getting pretty close. It’s been a while since I’ve completely overpacked or forgotten anything, just saying.
I know I’m not the only one who stresses out packing, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my tips! Not only is it helpful for me to write it all out (so I can revisit my notes the next time I travel), but hopefully it will help you guys next time you drag your suitcase out!
Tips For Packing Like A Pro
I decided to take an organized approach to this post. You know, verses just throwing together a bunch of random thoughts. If you haven’t read my post for dealing with travel anxiety, it’s a great place to start. If you deal with stress or anxiety when you travel or plan travel, a solid game plan is key.
Don’t wait until the night before your flight to start packing. You don’t need to plan months in advance, but give yourself a buffer. The longer the trip & the further you’re traveling, the more planning that should be involved.
Depending on the type of trip you’re going on, you may need to buy specific types of clothing or supplies. If you shop online like me, it’s important to give yourself a little extra time.
I like to use Evernote to organize and share my notes. It’s like a really high tech version of post it notes that you can access on your computer or phone. I have a travel “notebook” and create notes & lists that outline things I need to do, itineraries, etc. That way I have everything in one place.
Make sure you also check the forecast before you start packing. It’s kind of a no brainer, but it will help you pack accordingly. You don’t want to pack a massive snow jacket if there will be clear skies. Also take into consideration any activities, adventures or events you’ll be going to and items you might need.
Make A List & Check It Twice
I go into my Evernote folder and create a packing list, complete with boxes to check off items as I go. I recommend making your packing list sooner than later, that way you have time to buy things you may be missing. You don’t want to have to run to Target for toiletries the night before a trip.
Plan Your Outfits
One of my biggest tips is to stick to clothes that can be mixed, matched & layered. I prefer bringing one large suitcase instead of multiple bags. The more bags I travel with, the more stressed out I get.
I try to pick a color scheme and limit the number of items I bring that have a ton of patterns. For instance, I normally pack a lot of black jeans, tops & shoes because it’s easy to mix and match them and they generally go with anything. I also try to pick a jacket that matches everything I’m bringing and shoes that are versatile. Keep in mind that certain pieces of clothing take up more room than others. You don’t want to fill your entire bag up with shoes or massive faux fur coats.
Try Everything On
I like to lay everything out on my bed, separated by category. I’ll put all of my shirts together, bottoms together, shoes lined up & accessories off to the side. Then, I’ll try on outfits to make sure everything works. The trick is to narrow down the number of items you’re bringing.
I have a really hard time not packing my entire closet, so as I try to pick things strategically. Can my jeans all be worn with different tops? Can my tops be layered? Can I dress up a casual outfit with a statement necklace or different shoes? Generally, I try to keep things simple and bring one version of something. Example: I bring one pair of tennis shoes that can be worn to work out or walk around, one pair of cute & comfortable shoes & one pair of “fancy” shoes depending on our itinerary. Obviously if you’re going to the snow, you’ll want to bring snow boots. Or if you’re going to the beach, bring sandals.
Separate Your Clothes
Before putting anything into your suitcase, map out a plan. It’s important to keep all like items together. I like to keep my clothing separate from my shoes and toiletries as well. Just in case your shampoo explodes or the bottoms of your shoes are a little dirty! It will keep everything safe and clean.
Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are literally one of the most genius inventions. Before I got them, I thought they seemed like kind of waste of money. But now I can’t live without them. I got my marble packing cubes from CALPAK to match my marble luggage. They’re mesh bags that you can use to organize inside of your suitcase. They come in different sizes, so you can either organize by type of product or day. I like to separate my items into categories, but if you have specific outfits you want to wear, you can pack them together and pull them out as needed.
Roll Your Clothes
Rolling is the new folding. Not only does it save space, it keeps things from getting wrinkled! I find that it’s also easier to find and grab items when they’re rolled, rather than having to rifle through layers of folded items in your bag. I fold an item in half and then roll it up, just like you’d roll a sleeping bag.
Keep Your Shoes Separate
I mentioned that I like to keep my shoes separate from my clothes, so they don’t get anything dirty. I also picked up the cutest shoe bags that I recently started using to keep each pair of shoes from marking up or making holes in any clothes. They’re also washable, so you can throw them in with your laundry and reuse them.
If you have limited space, you can also use your shoes to pack small items. You can throw small or delicate items like sunglasses, phone chargers, etc in to keep them protected.
Pick A Practical Suitcase
The more I travel, the more I appreciate having a legitimate suitcase. I used to use duffel bags and different combinations of bags. Now, I use a clam shell bag. I have a 3-piece set from Calpak that gives me different options for the amount of time I’m traveling. I love my marble set, but they also have a ton of different colors and patterns. Not only do I love how it’s laid out, with separate compartments, they have multidirectional spinner wheels. This is key for me when I have multiple bags because I can stack my purse or Doug’s bag on top and push it along.
Get Your Toiletries In Check
Having a good toiletry bag is important. Instead of using 5 different cosmetics bags taking up a bunch of room, find one that has a decent amount of compartments and packs flat. I have this travel bag from Target and use it for my makeup & toiletries. I like that it’s flat and has compartments for my makeup, brushes, hair products, soap, etc.
It’s also important to note: try to limit the amount of toiletries you bring. I try to bring makeup palettes because they take up less space. I really like Kevyn Auction’s “beauty book” because it has a few shades of eye shadows, blushes, bronzers & highlighters.
Pick A Practical Carry On
I like to use carry on bags that are specifically made for traveling. Rather than having a purse and carry on rolling bag, I pack my “go to purse” in my luggage and opt for an all inclusive back pack or travel tote. I’m obsessed with all of my bags from Dagne Dover because they’re specifically made to travel, but are super cute and stylish.
I like to keep my laptop (or iPad) in my travel bag, as well as my camera & lenses, back up external chargers & other valuables. I keep my jewelry in my carry on as well, just in case my luggage gets lost. For more details on my carry on bag, check out my entire carry on checklist.
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