Back To Basics: Packing For A Trip

A question I am often asked is how do I pack. When I went to my first Professional Organizers Conference in San Diego you can imagine how well everyone was packed! Having an organized suitcase is a great way to start a vacation. Before my vacation I like to start stockpiling the items  that I think I will need on a bench in my bedroom. I like to visualize what I have and what I am missing. This is especially true when we are going on a family vacation and I am responsible for more than myself.

When I fly, I like to only pack a carry on bag for several reasons. The first being I don’t like to pay for a checked bag. Second I don’t like waiting for my luggage. And finally I like the challenge of having everything fit in my suitcase. I see it as a game, as I really need to focus on what I will really use and wear. Too often I over pack, it is an illness of making sure I have everything I will need. But often in my focus of packing just the right things I forget some obvious essentials….like my makeup or my underwear, true story.  But I do have some secrets to help me get packed in the most efficient manner possible.

1. I use a product called Shelves on the Go that is essentially a collapsible shelf that goes from packing in my closet, into my suitcase and finally into in the closet in the hotel. No need to put things in germy drawers in hotels. I can easily see my clothing as I pack. I don’t need to be searching through the deep recesses of my suitcase as I know exactly what shelf everything is on. My dress clothes go on one shelf, my exercise clothing on another and my everyday clothes on the third. I like to put my outfits together and be very visual as I pack and I even include the jewelry at this step. This product goes in one half of my suitcase.


2. I wear my bulkiest items on the plane. For me that means a large sweater that I can use as a jacket and my shoes that take up the most room, usually my gym shoes or a pair of comfy dress shoes. But most often it is a pair of boots that can be used with my dress clothes.

3. I pack my smaller items in packing cubes. This helps me keep like items together in my suitcase.  I usually put my undergarments and socks in one and if I am going to a tropical destination, my swimsuits and cover-ups in another. The cubes fit great on the other side of my suitcase.


4. Take advantage of unused space. For me I have a suitcase that has an area where my curling iron fits in perfectly. Use every nook and cranny for your benefit. Don’t leave any open space. For me it is sometimes my husbands suitcase as he has open spaces and I throw extra shoes in there, you know, just in case!


5. I pack a very practical bag as my second carry on. It must be able to fit my purse and my makeup bag in it. This bag will also double as my bag that I carry as we do touristy things. This bag easily sits on top of my suitcase and can go in front of my seat on the airplane. I always pack my chargers in this bag and my essentials that I can’t live without as sometimes you will need to gate check your suitcase and I don’t want the risk of losing them.

Some things that I have changed in the past couple of years as my travel has ramped up: First I got a credit card that gives me miles for purchases as well as gives me a free checked bag. My husband and I both flew to the Dominican with our files for free. As for checking the bag, there are times when I have tight connecting flights that I don’t want to haul around my suitcase. Some turnaround times are 30 minutes and when you have to sprint across the airport you do not want to be lugging your wheeled suitcase no matter how good those wheels are.

I really try to wear what I pack. Too often I am at the end of a trip and I didn’t wear over half of my clothing I packed. I am getting better at this by thinking of multiple uses for items. For example I have a pair of flip flops that have black sequins on them that can double as dress shoes if need be. This same pair of flip flops is so comfy I can walk all day in them. Hmmm…looks like I should just be taking these shoes as my only pair next time.

I really imagine my day to day activities on my trip before I go. If I am realistically not going to go out to fancy restaurants, I am not going to bring my dressy clothes. If the plan is wishful thinking on the exercise, I will leave my gym shoes at home. If I plan on laying in the sun the whole time, maybe just a few swimsuits and cover-ups is good enough!


To Joyful, Organized Living,


MS. Simplicity