Traveling is in my blood. It is a part of my business, my work and my life. Hopping on a plane for Europe or Asia and then back again to the States has become routine in my lifestyle. I spend a lot of time in airports, aboard planes, in taxis and cars, so convenience is important to me. In order to remain comfortable while traveling, packing light is key. Toting around multiple bags on each arm while rolling a suitcase behind me is a stressful nuisance. But while I try to pack light and limit the number of items I bring when traveling, I also want to make sure I’m packing all the necessities so that wherever I am feels like home. I also need to look like an image consultant during the time I am working, visiting and off duty.
Through my many travel excursions, I’ve learned some very important tips on how to pack light and right.
- Begin the packing process by eliminating the “what-if’s” from your vocabulary. Running out of toothpaste may happen, but unless your destination is a remote and rural location, you can purchase basic toiletries while away.
- Check the weather at your destination and pack accordingly: the lightweight raincoat with hood that folds into a small bag for downpours, silk underwear for cold days and drafty rooms, a pashmina for over-zealous air conditioning and breathable hi-tech fabrics for the heat that can be washed in the sink and dried overnight.
- A scarf is also a very beneficial item to wear when flying. It can act as your travel pillow, be draped over your shoulders to fight that chilly air on the flight and can add color to the eternal black travel outfit.
- Make a calendar and decide what you are going to wear every day and in the evenings if necessary. You can be fluid and swap days but this “laundry list” helps with the trap that you need lots of clothes because you will wear what you feel like that day or that you might need it, which encourages over-packing. Pack just the clothes that you know help you be confident, sexy, playful, approachable, authoritative or whatever your intention for the events on the trip.
- Roll, do not fold. Not only does this save room, it helps to keep your items wrinkle-free. In any case, choose all wrinkle free garments such as Lycra, polyester, stretchy fabrics such as jersey and blends with spandex. Turn all collars up to avoid that flattened look when you wear them. I am not a fan of ironing the minute I arrive but a traveling steamer is a good investment for that garment which is going to crease no matter what.
- Save space with shoes. Try to limit the amount of shoes you bring. Three is usually a good number to follow and they should all match the basic garments. Blonde or metallic in summer and a dark neutral in winter. Pack some smaller items, such as rolled socks and underwear, inside your shoes.
- Assign garments a number. All jackets, blazers and knitwear cardigans are #1s. Trousers, dresses, skirts, jeans and shorts are #2s. All tops, sweaters, camisoles, T-shirts, blouses and shirts are #3s. Each outfit can be chosen from a matching 2 + 3 combination. #1 garments should be able to go with each (or most) 2 + 3 outfits. For example, you can have a daytime look with one colored cardigan #1 + solid slacks #2 + solid top #3. To change the look, keep the slacks + top, change the cardigan to a more festive jacket, change the shoes and jewelry and you have an evening look. On another day, wear a dress + jacket or cardigan over it. On another day wear a skirt + print top + one of the jackets. Next day wear dress jeans + top + cardigan. The trick is to organize compatible fabrics, styles and colors so that you can mix and match your ten or so garments and never wear the same outfit twice in one week. Keep the #2 garments in neutral colors such as black, camel or navy; your #3 garments can be prints, stripes and floral as well as solids. If you don’t like jackets, mix and match just the 2+3 outfits. Avoid the kind of outfits that can’t be split up to mix and match. Use accessories and scarves to change the look.
By following these few simple guidelines, you can take the weight out of your case and the weight off your mind. Do you have any specific rules you follow when packing?