There I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom staring blank eyed at my overflowing suitcase and pile of clothes still waiting on the bed. It was just after midnight. My flight would be leaving at 6 AM. I needed to be on the road to the airport by 4 AM. I was hoping to get a little bit of sleep, but it clearly wasn’t going to happen. Why did I always do this to myself? I knew I would be rushing to get to my flight and I also knew once I arrived at my destination I would be missing something essential. So what did I do? Well it was too late to change anything that night. I went on with business as usual shoving everything into my suitcase and sitting on it as my sister helped zip it up. I arrived in California without a single bathing suit, or any extra memory cards for my camera. From that night on I never packed the same way again and I’ll let you in on a secret. It all comes down to this… don’t put it off until the last minute.
Make a list:
Once I have an idea of where I am going or what I will be doing I sit down on my computer and I make out a list. I actually already have a packing template saved. So I open that up in my docs and start filling it in. I always begin with my essentials, both travel and personal. I make sure to write down my passport, driver’s license, and my document carrier I purchased especially for traveling. It’s not the most stylish, but I can wear it underneath my clothes and in it I have money, my debit/credit cards, and copy of my passport. I ordered mine on Amazon. Then I move into personal essentials things like deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, contacts, and any prescriptions I take. From there of course I move down the list to clothes, and other items I like to have with me or any necessary gear I will be needing. If you’re looking for already made templates for you to use as a guideline simply search Pinterest for ‘Packing Tips’ and you’ll have your pick.
Turn to Pinterest for Inspiration/Ideas
Once I have my preliminary list set up I go on pinterest and try to figure out the outfits I can put together. I would not consider myself a very stylish or fashion forward person so I constantly find myself seeking help from friends and online. I have fall outfits for photoshoots, and road trip outfits as two of my boards on Pinterest and I fill them up whenever I have a trip coming. Whatever I can’t find in my closet that closely mirrors an outfit I found online I go shopping at TJ Maxx or Marshalls for it. From there it’s simply a matter of organizing.
Lay Everything Out
In my opinion, the biggest mistake people make when packing is taking too much with them. This only happens because very few people have the time or even motivation to spend pre-planning. I am a light packer. I don’t need an outfit for everyday that I will be somewhere because I can always mix and match. So I go day by day. The length of my trip or the kind of photoshoot will determine the number of outfits I pack. I grab what I will need from my closet lay it out on my bed and then as I pack it I check it off on the list. This helps me to not forget anything I might really want to bring.
For anyone looking for a good read and a very minimalist view of packing for a long term trip check out “No Baggage” It will definitely give you a new perspective on light packing. Often times after I lay everything out I look it all over and try to be as objective as possible asking myself if I really need that extra sweater, or impractical bathing suit just because it would look good in photos. Most of the time my want eclipses my actual need, but I always manage to fit everything.
Limit Yourself…or try to
I limit myself to one carry on size suitcase, a backpack, and a small purse if needed. The only time I have ever taken a checked bag was to Scotland a few years ago. I studied abroad for two months and needed the extra clothes, but even then I realized I had way too much. I pack for all of my longer trips with a simple sized carry on. I went to Costa Rica last year for a month and had the perfect amount of everything.
The only downside to bringing a carry on over checking a bag is the liquid rule. You can’t bring more than 3.4 fluid o.z. In a single container and you can only have one quart-sized plastic bag per traveler. I’ve gotten away with bringing a gallon sized bag, but it’s still tough to manage everything, but not impossible. Prioritize. What will you need immediately upon your arrival? For me it’s contact solution because I am as blind as a bat and I don’t particularly like wearing my glasses. Try buying shampoo/conditioner, and even perfume where you are going. You can shop locally and help out small businesses.
Now, the fun part packing your bag.
The Roll Technique
I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you about this one. Take it from someone who has packed my painstakingly folding everything just right and one who haphazardly rolls things up and shoves them where they may fit. The rolling works a lot better. Sure you’re clothes may become a little wrinkled depending on how much effort you put into your rolling, but all those extra clothes you wanted will for sure make it in. Some people like to roll clothes according to outfits. This is one way to stay organized. I typically do it by shirts, then pants and so on. It’s really whatever works best for your brain/needs.
The only thing you really can’t roll are shoes. So when it comes to this I always wear my bulkiest shoes on my feet. Who cares if they aren’t stylish at least they aren’t taking up a crazy amount of room in your bag. So when you see me traveling I’ll be the one wearing my hiking boots on the plane. If your a shoe person remember that the better you roll the more of your fancy footwear you’ll be able to take.
These are literally a lifesaver for me. I had when things get super messy and disorganized in a suitcase. I and don’t enjoy spending time on my trips trying to sort out the mess. So for Christmas one year my mom bought me packing cells. It was honestly a game changer. On the road I shove these into my hiking backpack to keep it from getting unmanageable. And in my suitcase it really makes it easy to fit other things I might not need but want, like books, or other comforts from home. You can organize your cells anyway you want. I do it by jeans, shirts, dresses/seaters, underwear/bras, and jackets if needed. For all those toiletries and makeup I also have a bag that my friend bought my from Victoria Secret. It has two huge mesh netted pockets that zip up and can hold everything I need no problem. I always take it with me.
Remember, these tips will essentially fill up your carry-on sized bag. Now you still have an entire backpack or large purse to put more items in. I hope this helps getting ready for your next adventure as smooth as possible. And if anyone has other packing tips/tricks please feel free to share them below. It’s nice to know we’re not in it alone and let’s face it there’s always a more convenient way to get things packed and ready to go.