tips: packing

Try on EVERYTHING….(note the comatose dog on the bed – this takes time)

So, I’m guessing you’ve packed for a trip before – right? Did you get there with too much? Too little? No choices? Exorbitant baggage fees? …would you like to leave all of that behind and arrive with EXACTLY what you want? I can help….keep reading.

In researching what I wanted to say in this post, I discovered that I have a (shockingly) high volume of pictures on my phone of outfits. Yes – I try on every single outfit before it goes into the suitcase. My husband laughs at this practice and has for years. But, y’know what never happens? I never arrive at a site in an outfit that doesn’t go together, doesn’t fit well, or without shoes that match (yeah – I try on shoes, jewelry and even handbags as part of this meticulous practice). In case you’re wondering, no – I don’t always takes pictures of the outfit. But, occasionally, I want a second opinion – enter the volume of pics that have ended up in my photo library. Let’s just chalk it up to: I make very thorough decisions about what to bring. As a result, I can go a week or more in 1 carry-on suitcase, and dressed for every occasion – work or play with at least 1 costume change per day in most cases. This is serious business.

Some things to consider in advance:

  • Look at the weather where you’re headed
  • Will you be in meeting rooms (aka The Frozen Tundra)?
  • What will casual time be like….pool? beach? live music?
  • Can you economize – limit the # of shoes – I’m serious – stop buying either black or brown shoes and opt ONLY for neutrals that are more interchangeable and versatile
  • Can you get more than 1 wear out of each thing you pack? – think VERY carefully about packing dresses.
    • Dresses can be economical space-wise, unless you can only get 1 wear – then, they’re kind of space-hogs
  • Do you need work shoes AND casual shoes? I’m a size 9 – I think long and hard about how many pairs of shoes to pack
  • Will you be working out on this trip? Not “I’m on a totally new workout regimen and want to stay true” kinda working out – I mean ACTUALLY working out – if so, the extra space is worth it
10 Days – Work & Play in this bag…..ten days……

I’m a big fan of Briggs & Riley. I like the 21″ size so that I can fit in most over-head bins. Before I had the hard-sided, I had their soft-sided. The hard, though, pulls in and out of over head with the greatest of ease – I’m diminutive, as I’ve mentioned before, and clamoring onto airplane seats to reach and wriggle my suitcase out is not my favorite. That’s absolutely not necessary with the slippy-slidy hard-sided. And, 4 wheels on the floor means I can stick my bag on top and not have to pull the weight of both. By the end of the trip when I’d also bought a winter outer coat at the cutest little Belgian boutique (note: You have to be open to buying the perfect item when it presents itself – even when it’s a wool outer coat that you’ll need to schlep home) and a spare pair of boots, the compression that reduces the content volume by 22% is worth the WHOLE investment. Is the bag just as sleek and shiny as it was a year ago? Probably not, but I do still get compliments on it, so it’s certainly not bad. I’m told they truly stand behind their warranty, too.

Don’t be a hero – if you’re on your 2nd or 3rd leg of a journey and you can shed some un-necessary pounds (…of clothes), ship them home. I’ve done this internationally & domestically. UPS just became your new BFF

Are you a checker or a carry-on person? I like carrying on. I’ve gotten to places before without my bag and it’s always a hardship. Two quick stories: Once, I made a quick connection in bad weather. BARELY made the flight. As I sat down, I saw them close the luggage hatch. “There goes the work outfit I had packed”, I said to the traveler next to me. “Now, not only am I stuck in Wichita for the day, I’m stuck in Wichita wearing THIS at a business meeting!” We both chuckled and agreed we were at least glad we’d made our connection. The next day, when I arrived to a research center wearing jeans, guess who the physician was I was meeting – Yes, 4C….the nice man I’d commiserate with the evening before. In the spirit of full-disclosure, remember I’d also insulted his hometown (re-read above) – my day just couldn’t get any peachier. Another time, I checked my bag and had a LONG layover in Dallas because I wanted NO trouble making my connection to a vacation in Hawaii. The layover was so long, in fact, that I guess they forgot about my bag and just sent me to Hawaii without it. Lemme tell ya – $50 a day for lost bag inconvenience doesn’t buy a whole ton of cuteness in Hawaii. The moral of this story is – if you must check your bag, wear something that can get you through the next day. Obviously, prescription meds need to be in your carry-on. But, when I check, I now also bring makeup just in case. If I’m headed to Hawaii, I’ll throw my swimsuit and coverup into my carry-on, too. At least while I’m missing my bag, I’ll be missing it poolside. I occasionally wear LuluLemon on the plane if it’s a really long, overnight flight. But, Eileen Fisher and a scarf could at least get me to the office the next day in a pinch and it’s just as comfortable. I think about these things.

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

Coco Chanel

I’m going to go back to the meticulous planning for a minute – I make a list for myself. Day 1: I’m here doing this, Day 2: I’m there doing that…..I start mapping out what I might want to wear based on activity, weather, etc. By looking at it on paper, I can economize: These pants can go several wears, these shoes go with multiple outfits. Then, I try them on to test my theory about coordination. I prefer to look pulled together at all times. Maybe you’re a T-shirt and jeans kinda person – that’s cool, too. But, I want to change into something smart after work, so my clothes have to do dual purpose at LEAST. In Paris, one thing after another, the new tops I bought (because shopping….Paris) all coordinated best with the same pair of pants – good thing they were durable without showing wear. A freak cold-front and you’ll find that you’re trying to wear everything at once, so at least it coordinates. On any given morning when traveling, I can wake up, glance at my phone, and say: Today I’m wearing _______. It’s become kind of a joke amongst my friends. But, the ONE TIME I STRAYED, I ended up touring Normandy and FREEZING. I’m quite convinced that had I stuck to the plan, nature wouldn’t have had to flex her muscle and show me who’s boss and then we all would’ve had a more comfortable day. Because, honestly, what I’d originally planned would’ve been perfect. I had the audacity to look out the window and change just willy-nilly. Life Lesson: stick to the plan.

Try the WHOLE outfit before you pack – I might be over the top, but trust me.

Lastly – making it all fit. Because, we’ve already established: I like options. Do you know who Marie Kondo is? I bought her book and it changed everything for me with respect to how I keep my house tidy now. I didn’t expect it to impact my packing, but it has. I started employing her packing methods in a similar fashion to how I keep my drawers, and it just WORKS. I gravitated to it on my own, so I assure you it’s not a gimmick – really just common sense, but she tapped how to promote it and you’d do well to pay attention. At least be open-minded. Maybe your socks and undies don’t spark joy, but at least be efficient in how you pack them – at a minimum, they won’t spark animosity.

Shoe bags. They’re a thing and you need them. Many overnight flight amenity bags double as shoe bags, just FYI

It’s not the destination, but the journey….said someone who didn’t have to go to a beach on Waikiki wearing long pants and a sweater. Or, a fancy dinner wearing a pull-over fleece with “Alcatraz” emblazoned on the front because she didn’t realize how cold a dinner bay cruise might be in San Francisco….in June. I’ve been this person, so I know. Don’t let my mistakes be your mistakes. And, don’t be the pack mule of your party dragging most of your worldly possessions behind you – even if they ARE on wheels. A little upfront planning will enhance your trip, ease your travel and STILL afford you room to pick up a few odds and ends that spark joy along the way.

2 thoughts on “tips: packing”

  1. Enjoyed this. I managed with a 21 inch for two weeks in Ireland. Such makes it easier since we changed towns/accommodations every 3 days. However, I do not prepare outfits the way you do…..kudos to you.

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