I always want to be my best, stylish, event-appropriate self even while traveling. But no matter whether we’re going away for an overnight getaway or a month in three different climates with both hiking and business events, I like to travel as light as I can. Let’s be honest – it is not fun lugging heavy stuff and most of us don’t have a collection of monogrammed Louis Vuitton being chauffeured door to door. So no matter if you’re headed on a business trip or a fun-filled holiday, these tips will have you packing like a pro in no time.
Start the packing process by writing down your schedule. Knowing what is on your trip agenda helps formulate a plan for what to pack. TripIt keeps our schedule organized by importing all of our confirmation emails right in to our TripIt account. From flights to crazy adventures like learning the flying trapeze, we know what we’ll be doing so we can properly pack.
I write down everything I’ll need for my trip, right down to the number of undies. As I pack my bag, I place a check mark next to each item, ensuring I don’t forget anything. And though I travel in a carry-on sized bag, I end up checking it often. So my packing list also provides a record of everything in my bag just in case it ever gets lost.
2. Begin with the must-haves.
Have some non-negotiable items? Set out anything that is absolutely impossible-to-leave-behind. For me, those are my 1875 watt salon-style hair dryer and straightener (when are hotels going to realize that most of their hair dryers just don’t cut it for us ladies?!). Then work around whatever space is left in your suitcase.
3. Pack the heaviest items on the bottom.
When you stand your suitcase up, you want the heaviest items like shoes or your hair dryer to be on the bottom. Also put your toiletry bag at the bottom. This tip is especially important if you have a rolling duffle-style carry-on as the wheels are actually under the bottom of the bag when you stand it upright.
4. Coordinate your wardrobe around one or two pairs of shoes.
Fun as a colorful wardrobe might be, pack items in the same color family that you can mix and match to create new outfits and wear with that one or two pairs of shoes you selected to bring. Stick to basic colors like black, gray, navy or beige. Pick comfortable shoes that go with everything (like my favorite travel flats: Tieks in obsidian black), bring a pair of heels or wedges for dressing up, and I like to pack a pair of flip-flops for in the hotel room or going to the pool and spa.
Jazz up all that black, gray, navy or beige with pieces that travel light and make a statement. Scarves are multipurpose; they can add a pop of color to an outfit or keep you warm on a chilly airplane. I’m also loving statement necklaces to easily make an outfit go from sightseeing to Michelin-starred restaurant.
6. Travel size products.
Travel size products are much more convenient when it comes to size and weight, but travel size of my favorite brands isn’t available. I don’t sacrifice my good shampoo for a cheap travel sized one. Instead, I use my silicone travel tubes and simply refill them with my favorite shampoo, conditioner, foaming face wash, and lotion. You can even skip those travel sized toothpastes that you always feel bad tossing out when they have a bit left, but not enough for the entirety of your next trip. Toothpaste 2 Go lets you refill the reusable tubes with your favorite toothpaste. And both the reusable silicone tubes and toothpaste tubes are so much better for the environment.
7. Use a water resistant coated toiletry bag.
I’ve had my silicone travel tubes for at least eight years now and they’ve never leaked, but just in case I use a water resistant coated toiletry bag. I can easily wipe it clean and it protects everything else in my suitcase from potential spills. I also love this reusable clear travel bag (it even comes with some bottles perfect for make-up), which is perfect for storing all your TSA approved liquids in your carry-on.
8. Use cloth shoe bags or shower caps to protect clothing from shoes.
Good quality shoes come in cloth shoe bags and these are perfect for protecting your clothing from the yuckiness your shoes are inevitably going to pick up. If you don’t have shoe bags or want to purchase them, I also use shower caps which fit perfectly around your shoes with the elastic. Of course, if you’re packing your Tieks, they fold up nice and compact in to the pouch they come with.
9. Keep all valuables with you and lock your carry-on.
Sadly, these days it is pretty much safe to assume that valuables aren’t safe in your checked bag. Keep all valuable (or even sentimental) jewelry, prescription medication, electronics, and camera equipment in your carry-on. If you don’t have a carry-on size pack and you’re looking for the best one, check out this study by OutdoorCrunch.
And be sure to put a lock or use the built in lock on your carry-on, especially if it doesn’t fit under the seat right in front of you. No one likes to think thefts happen on airplanes, but Absolute Software’s study determined that 24% of travel-related thefts take place in the air.
One of our favorite souvenirs to pick up on our travels is the local wine. We use WineSkins to safely get our wine back home in our checked bag. The padded wine shaped “envelop” gives bottles that extra protection from all the jostling and tossing around your bag goes through on its journey from check-in desk to baggage carousel.