We all know savvy globetrotters who instinctively travel with less. Thankfully, a few of them are my friends, colleagues, and travel experts who have shared their secrets. Here are seven of the best packing strategies that work:
1. The List In a Fodor's survey, 29 percent of respondents said they make lists at least one week before a trip. Looking for a standard list? Check out Knock Knock’s fantastic ‘Pack This!’ note pads (on-line and at Amazon). Reminder: lists can be used at least twice - once to pack and once to repack at the end of your trip. This way you'll be sure to take everything you've brought with you.
2. Suit Or Shades? Is this a business trip that dictates you will dress to impress? Or are you heading out on a long overdue vacation where casual clothes and beach gear are a must? As your itinerary comes together, make a schedule of your days and evenings, and next to each activity note potential outfits, including shoes and accessories. This is the start of the critical packing list for your trip.
3. Eight Outfits In One Carry On Remember, you have to get there from here. A powerful reminder, for fashion lovers with big roller boards or heavy suitcases. On a more serious note, it is possible to get eight outfits in one carry on - if you take the approach that Ann Le has in this clever footage. Warning: after watching this great ‘how to’ segment, you may want to purchase a versatile maxi skirt too!
Quantity vs. Quality is a good rule of thumb also. If there's one thing that can turn a pack rat into a minimalist, it's a business trip spent lugging everything you've packed over long distances. Consider how you're getting to your destination and how you'll be getting around once you arrive. Packing light is less critical on trips when you're driving with your colleagues and staying in one place than when you're flying on an airplane and moving around once you land.
4. Looking Good It goes without saying that you should never leave on a trip without broken-in (polished) shoes. Similarly, don't run out and buy a new wardrobe. You will probably want to wear each item you bring several times during your trip, so you're better off with clothing you know and love - clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good.
5. Global Chic On an international note, local dress codes should be factored into your wardrobe. In some resort areas, an anything-goes attitude applies, whereas in others many restaurants frown on diners with flip flops or those wearing shorts, bathing suits, or even T-shirts. Going abroad? In many places, traditions of dress differ from North America; check with your destination's concierge or consult a good guidebook. A dignified look goes a long way: think skirts below the knee or trousers, and shirts that cover shoulders and elbows.
6. One Look Stick to one basic wardrobe look – a favorite is urban chic when packing for business trips. Also sporty casual – if a get-away includes vacation. In either case, choose clothes that you can wear at least twice in a week. When all your tops go with all your bottoms and all your bottoms work with all your shoes, mixing and matching can yield plenty of fresh looks; just add scarves and jewelry for women and additional ties along with a light weight sweater or blazer for men (e.g., for a week's trip, you should look smashing with three bottoms, four or five tops, a sweater, and a jacket that can be worn alone or over the sweater).
Similarly, try to build your wardrobe around just two or three complementary colors, preferably two neutrals and one accent, such as black, white, and light brown. If everything goes together, you'll get more mileage out of fewer pieces. And remember that prints and dark colors do not show spots and soil as quickly. Think black T-shirts rather than white ones and apply this to pants as well.
As much as is possible, pack items that are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, worth repeating – wrinkle resistant, compact, and washable. Slimmer silhouettes, for instance, will generally pack tighter than flared or ruffled looks. Clothes made of fabric with built-in wrinkles tend to travel beautifully, while lightweight linen creases to the point you will not want to wear it. Try this simple wrinkling test: Intentionally fold a piece of fabric between your fingers for a couple of minutes. If it refuses to crease, it will probably come out of your suitcase looking fresh. Another important tip: use tissue paper and dry cleaning bags when packing your most important outfits.
7. Sunny, Seventy Degrees, And A Shoe Tip You Will Remember
Start checking the temperatures at your destination a week before your trip and use a single shoe to keep you organized before the departure. First, having current weather information allows you to revise your packing list quickly and to give thought to buying mittens over sunscreen. Also pack layers (a favorite tip of mine), or whatever else you may need for the weather. If rain is in the forecast, avoid suede finishes and opt for easy to clean boots, heels, or loafers. And be sure to consider the humidity level which could benefit from packed hair clips or hats.
Next, adopt a clever ‘shoe’ tip from Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal. Discovered during a British Airways interview, flight attendants shared the following with Scott: “…by putting a shoe you wear when flying into the room safe with your passport, you’ll never risk leaving it behind when you depart.”
Enjoy packing and safe travels.