We all know packing can be the traveler’s biggest nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. From several overseas trips, I have been able to learn how to pack like an expert. In fact, I have managed to get it down to a science where I only need to a bring a carry-on size suitcase with me no matter where I go – two weeks in New Zealand and Fiji, in two different seasons – no problem! Because of this expert skill that I’ve acquired, I have become to the go-to person when my friends need help packing.
While it take some practice, my biggest piece of advice is pack light. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but with a few tips, you might be able to find that even you can do the unimaginable.
1. First, get an idea of what you’d like to pack a week or two before you leave. This way you can make sure it’s clean ahead of time (less to stress about). Make a mental list, or an actual one if you are a visual person (I’m just not that organized.) About a week before the trip, start actually pulling out the clothes, shoes, and accessories that you want to bring. Don’t actually pack until the night before, or that day. Trust me, nothing is worse than having to dig through your suitcase just to make sure you packed that adorable shirt you planned on bringing.
2. Get a rolling garment rack. This will allow you to hang out the clothes you want to bring and organize them into outfits. Try to come up with several items to layer, or pieces that go together so you can interchange them. Not only will your life will be easier, but you’ll have less to bring. Usually before I travel, I go to stores like Forever 21 and H&M, to get some cheap, classic pieces. They are easy to match and make packing a breeze. Plus, they are cheap so you can toss them when you need room for more souvenirs, or the new, cute clothes you bought overseas.
3. Try to pick one base color when packing. Sure those purple, suede pumps might do incredible things for your legs, but if they only really match one outfit, plan on leaving them at home. I stick to basics when I travel, and usually that means black heels, boots, or flats. That’s not to say that they can’t be as fabulous as those purple pumps – my trusty BCBG black, patent-leather pumps have not only spent New Years Eve dodging fireworks in Leidseplein in Amsterdam, and but they’ve also bar hopped with me on Courtenay Place in Wellington. Whatever color combination works best for you is fine, but keep it as simple as possible when traveling.
4. When it finally comes to packing, roll your clothes so that they don’t wrinkle. I start with heavier items on the bottom, such as jeans and sweaters. I layer other pieces on top of those until my suitcase is full. On top, I make sure to put my non-liquid toiletries (make-up, brush, etc.). Then, I save the spot on top for my shoes. My suitcase has a mesh pocket on the top lid portion, where I can easily store my shoes.
5. When it comes to liquids, I deal with the normal carry-on policy. I keep them in those adorable, little Ziploc bags the airport requires, and store them in an easy to reach spot in a front pocket of my bag or pocketbook. I bring some necessary items and purchase the rest when I arrive at my destination. If you are traveling with other people, you can share shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. It might not be what you are used to, but why not try out some local products while you are visiting the country? I am also a huge fan of Garnier face wipes. They are an easy way to avoid the liquid problem, and a great way to freshen up along your travels, or clean up after a fun night out.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a place to wash their clothes, but if you are visiting someone, renting a place, or know that the hotel supplies a washing service take advantage. This means you can reuse some of those cute pieces in a different outfit! If you don’t have a washing machine/dryer, you can always bring Woolite, and hand wash your items. This way you can bring as little as possible, plus have room for everything you bought on your trip.
I always save perfume ads and stick them inside my suitcase, dryer sheets also work. This helps keep your suitcase smell nice and fresh no matter how far you’re traveling. I also save those small sample bottles of perfume to use as my perfume on my trip. It may not be my “signature scent,” but it fits perfectly into my Ziploc.
Keep your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, small hairbrush, and some make-up at an easy to locate place. Nothing feels better than fixing yourself up after a long flight, even if it’s just to get on another airplane. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet at the airport.
Remember, traveling is an experience. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the products you’d use at home, you are supposed to feel at least somewhat out of your comfort zone while traveling, or else what fun is it? It’s not all about what you have with you, it’s about the journey and what happens when you get there. And trust me, the less stuff you have when you get there the better!