Pack It Up, Pack It In.

Organized Suitcase via Good Housekeeping

Let me begin.  I came to win, battle me that’s a sin. (Cue the house party scene from Mrs. Doubtfire, an S & B favorite.  “I missth her sthtories” is a very frequently used random phrase in our house).

If you have ever traveled with me, you know I am serious about packing.  And it’s not just about sufficiency – it is efficiency that is king.  My pre-travel goal is to figure out exactly what I will be needing on my trip, and to pack it in as small a bag as I can (I usually ask oodles of questions of my fellow travelers or hosts to help accomplish this…many thanks to those who have, at times, found themselves on the other end of this seemingly endless torture quest for packing greatness).  It is just so satisfying to pack the perfect suitcase!

So in honor of today being the first official day of summer, the year’s busiest travel season, I thought I’d share some of my packing tips and tricks.

1. Plan ahead!  Try to get an idea of what you’ll be doing and what the weather will be.  Really think about what you’ll need and when in doubt, less is more.  I really mean it.  It’s so much easier to decide what to wear when you’ve got fewer options to work with.  Also reach out to your hotel/host to find out what sorts of things are provided (hair dryer, iron, towels, etc.) so you don’t waste space on things you don’t need.

2. List, list, list.  God I love lists.  After you’ve done some planning, make a list of what you will need.   This will help you to see where you may be over- or under-packing.  I like to group similar items on my lists because it helps me to remember things I might be leaving out.  As things go in my bag I cross them off.  The night before I’m traveling I like to have as many things packed as I can, with the remaining “need in the morning” items circled and starred on my list so I don’t forget them.

3. Choose Wisely.  I try to travel with neutral pieces of clothing that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.  This really maximizes the wardrobe you’re bringing.  This one is hard for some people though, so if you must have something, and you can fit it in, go for it.

4. Stage It.  Lay everything you plan to pack out on the bed so you can visualize what you have, and plan the best way to arrange it in your bag(s).  This is also a good time to try and pare down a bit more.

5. Toiletries To Go. I actually keep a complete set of TSA-sized toiletries already packed in a travel bag so all I need to do is toss it in my suitcase when packing.  I usually check it a week or so before to make sure I’m not low on anything.  And if you have prescriptions/contacts/vitamins that you don’t have duplicates of, don’t forget to add these in before you pack your bags.

6. Space Savers.  Try storing socks and small accessories/jewelry inside shoes or bags that you are packing.  Not only will this keep things safe, protected, and easier to find, but you are saving what would have been wasted space!  Major bonus points.

7. Roll it Up.  Rolling your clothes really does save you space and help to keep things wrinkle free.  I’ve heard people say they could almost double what they’ve brought just by doing this.  I’m usually OK on space so I don’t always do this one, but on the occasions I have I’ve definitely noticed it helps.

8. Order Counts!

-I recommend packing shoes first.  I line my suitcase with shoes, soles facing the edges of the bag which keeps the bottoms of my shoes from touching my clothing.  (Side note: at AS’ – er, AC‘s – AMAZING wedding this past weekend, the lovely MOH and sister of the bride gave me a great tip for packing shoes – slip them in shower caps!  Everyone’s got a few of those that they’ve taken from hotels over the years, great way to use them.).

-Heavier/thicker pants go next, then lighter items, tops, and dressier items.

-Tuck smaller items like underwear, bathing suits, belts, etc. in whatever spaces are still open around the clothes.

-My luggage has interior straps to fasten around your stuff (see picture at the bottom of this post so you know what I’m talking about).  At this point I will use these to keep everything snug and flatten things out a bit.  You can usually get about an inch more of space from doing this.

-Lastly, put your toiletries and hair dryer/curler/iron on top (although if you are checking luggage and prefer to carry these on this won’t apply to you)  I always travel with my flat iron.  It’s pretty small (1″ wide), and it works on the fly as a clothes iron (I always seem to need to touch up my cuffed pants/shorts), and it can be used for both straightening and curling  hair.  Although I only use it for straightening.  But knowing it multitasks is super.

It may seem a little daunting to go through these steps every time you travel, but for me they have just become second nature over time.  Give it a try.  See how sick of a suitcase you can pack on your next jaunt.  I’m telling you, it’s addictive.

Bon Voyage, & Bel été!

Suitcase Interior via Delsey

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11 thoughts on “Pack It Up, Pack It In.

  1. I’d love to hear how you iron clothes using your flat iron. I’ve never heard of that before. I’m intrigued.

    I prefer to bundle pack – putting my socks/undies/scarves in the core area and bundling around them. I’ve rarely had problems with wrinkling.

    • It’s probably easier to explain via pictures, so the next time I do it I’ll snap a few and post!

      I don’t usually hem pants – I leave them long for heels and pin them for flats. When I travel and pin I need something to “crisp” up the hem – enter my flat iron. And if they’ve been hemmed but I’m wearing them with heels, I need to flatten out the hemline ridge – re-enter my flat iron.

      I’ve also used the iron on to cuffed shorts or pants after a day of wearing them (sometimes the cuffs start to hang in the back, etc.).

      Hope that’s helpful.

      PS – I’ve been reading through your packing lists, great ideas in here and I love how you’ve organized all the outfits on your site!

  2. Wow, and I thought I was an organized packer! You’re really good at it although I wouldn’t be bothering with the curling iron no matter how small – I just think you’re hair is never the same when you travel, so I just embrace that and try something different!

    Great post!

    • Thanks! Well it’s actually my flat iron, which is a very important part of my life (sad but true, and probably the only material thing you’d ever hear me say that about!). I don’t ever bring it to the beach though. Ocean air is enough for me there.

      PS – your site is jam packed with GREAT travel information!

  3. This is awesome. I just read this and a bunch of your other posts. I’m new to the blogging/ professional organizing world and you hve some awesome ideas. I was going to write a post in the next couple weeks about traveling with kids because I’m going on a plane with 2 kids for the first time. You are going to be so helpful to me. Thanks and I’m looking forward to more!

  4. Pingback: The Thrill of It All: Packing Perfection. | keep it neat

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