The secret to packing

December 4, 2012
Pre-trip, I lay everything out to organize & pack. Even toiletries.

When I get home and unpack outfits that I didn’t wear while on vacation, it always makes me a little crazy.

Or it used to. But no more. Yes, I’ve got some packing tips.

As a seasoned traveler, I’m pretty organized. I have a standard packing list that I adapt to each trip. It’s got all the basics so I won’t forget, but my choice of outfits, shoes and accessories depend on where I’m going and the quantity depends on how long.

Still, I almost always come back with clothing I didn’t wear.

“Why did I carry all this stuff?” I grouse to myself as I unpack.  Even if I’ve checked a bag.

But no more grousing.

I’ve come to see my suitcase my traveling closet. Just as my closet at home has selections for any weather or outing, so should my suitcase. Especially if I’m traveling for more than a few days.

Weather is getting more and more unpredictable, and what looked like a 63 degree holiday the week before could end up a chilly 50 degrees. And if I’m not lugging my bag very far, well, who cares if I’ve overpacked?

Yes, I could have done without my grey three-button Uggs. They took up a lot of room. But I love them and yes, I did get to wear them, even though there was no snow.

Did I really need a pair of leggings, yoga pants and two pairs of  jeans?  The answer is YES. What woman doesn’t want choices?

And I needed my sturdy walking shoes for touring and my patent alligator-style flats for our big night out at my favorite Boulder restaurant, The Flagstaff House. For sure.

How could I manage that cold, dry weather without a big tube of emollient L’Occitane hand cream? Or my favorite face serum and heavy duty facial moisturizer?  And then there’s my big hair dryer as well as my mini-flat iron.

Glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses. I did skip the stylin’ new hat I bought in September, too hard to carry, but I hated to.

So here’s the secret to packing a suitcase:

  1. Develop a standard packing list and edit it for each trip. I used to forget either my toothbrush or PJs, but not since I began using my list some years ago.

  2. It’s all about options for weather, mood and event. Consider your suitcase a mini-version of your closet, but coordinate colors so that most things go together. For this trip, most things were black, with pops of teal.  Give yourself choices without paying for an overweight bag.

  3. Layer. For 6 days in Colorado, I brought a turtleneck, zippered sweatshirt, a comfy brown cotton cardigan and a black wool jacket, plus three lighter shirts.

  4. If you’ve got two evening dinners, one nice outfit worn twice is probably enough. Or just bring another top.

  5. I’m never sure if I’m going to like a hotel’s toiletries, so I bring mini-versions of shampoo and soap that I do like. Deodorant, saline, toothpaste, lotions and floss? Also mini sizes.
    Cosmetics, too. I always bring a shower cap; most hotels don’t supply them now. Qtips in a mini pack.

  6. And don’t feel badly if you don’t wear everything you packed. It’s just less laundry to do upon your return.

6 comments on “The secret to packing
  1. My packing tip: Black. That’s it. It’s boring but easy. And then accessories. Until I am Beyonce, that’s what I am going to do. Your tips were great too!

  2. Anonymous says:

    My most important traveling tip: Bring an extension cord for all your “needy” electronics. Susan

  3. great tips – a must read for the “unseasoned” traveler

  4. Haralee says:

    Good tips. I used to travel 42 weeks a year so I would like to add a few tips. Use a color theme so SB likes Black then black shoes and accessories to go with black. Use zip lock bags for cosmetics/toiletries in case you get a real nosy TSA agent. Haralee.Com sleepwear because it packs well and can be used to lounge in and work out in the pajamas and you wear them and open the door to your hotel room or have coffee with modesty if staying with friends!

  5. Denise G says:

    I like black too a nice pair of black dress slacks and a few tops. One nice dress up outfit. I am pretty good at not overpacking because I know there are always going to be extra to come back so I need the room in the suitcase.

  6. Susan! I thought I was the only one who did that!

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