I’ll admit it. My name is Carol and I was a chronic over-packer. I had to pack outfits for every occasion (including back ups) with multiple shoe options. I often had so many shoes that I needed a separate suitcase just for them. In recent years I’ve had to fly quite a bit for work and quickly realized that traveling with multiple suitcases just plain sucked (and was expensive with bag fees). Through trial and error I’m proud to say that I’ve learned to pack my favorite pieces (including shoes) in just one suitcase. I’m heading to San Francisco and the Dominican Republic this month so I thought it would be the perfect time to share my tips with you. You may have seen a few of these before, but it never hurts to have a refresher.
1. Get a Great Suitcase
I use a Victorinox suitcase made by Swiss Army. This is not only a very sturdy and durable suitcase, it’s surprisingly roomy. It can serve as a carry on or you can expand it for checking, but it’s also small enough to use as weekender. It’s a little spendy but I’ve had this suitcase for over 10 years, it’s been all over the world and still looks pretty good. The handle rotates for a natural “palm-facing-the-body” position to reduce arm stress and the interior has a door pocket for hanging up to 10 items as well as a deep interior compartment for the rest of my shoes and clothes. Investing in a great suitcase is truly the key to stylish packing.
2. Stick to One Color Palette
It doesn’t have to be black and white like in the photo, but I would suggest you find a basic color like blue, brown, green, or black and then build a capsule wardrobe around those colors. Here’s a few tips:
a. Check the weather where you’re going so you can bring climate appropriate clothing. But remember if you tend to get cold bring an extra shawl or cardigan. Blazers are bulky so if you need to have one for your trip wear it on the plane.
b. Bring things to mix and match within your color palette. A skirt, dress, dark jeans (if that’s appropriate) or black pants that you can accent with colorful tops, bold prints, and accessories.
c. The other key is fabrics. Jersey is thin and packs easily and usually doesn’t hold wrinkles like cotton or linen fabrics.
d. Bring no more than 3 pair of shoes (depending on the events you’ll attend) which should include the shoes you’re traveling in. If you’re bringing boots, wear them don’t pack them (you’ll save room in your suitcase). Add a pair of comfort shoes you can wear and walk in all day; a pair of dress shoes for any special events (if applicable), and a pair of gym shoes to work out and/or sightsee. If you successfully stuck to packing one color palette, that will be plenty.
3. Roll, Roll, Roll Your Clothes
My father was a career military man and I learned this trick from him years before it became popular. Rolling instead of folding your clothes is not only a great space saver but decreases wrinkling. As I noted above I do hang most of my clothes (so I have plenty of hangers in my hotel room) so this leaves a considerable amount of room in the body of my suitcase. I then roll and pack my jeans, casual shirts, workout gear, pjs, and loungewear. However, before I add my clothes I layer the bottom of the suitcase with my shoes. I wrap each pair in a plastic grocery bag so I don’t get my clothes dirty. Here’s how to roll your clothes:
a. Fold tops in half, align the sleeves, then fold the sleeves back over the body of the top then roll tightly.
b. Fold your pants in half to create a singular pant leg, then fold in half and roll tightly.
c. I usually roll socks and underwear together and place them in a gallon size Ziplock bag. It keeps them together and tucks them nicely in the corner of my luggage.
If done right this will leave you just enough room to snuggly fit your toiletry bag.
4. Carry On Your Accessories
Airlines allow you to bring two items on the plane so whether you’re bringing your suitcase on board or decide to check it, you’ll want to carry on your accessories. Carrying your accessories with you saves room in your suitcase and allows you to keep your valuables safe. My accessories include my jewelry, any hats I may bring, sunglass, and cosmetics (because I like to touch up before the plane lands). On international flights I also carry a scarf and pair of socks to keep warm and a change of cloth (just in case). In addition, I pack my power cords, iPad, camera, and a little cross body purse that I can carry while out of town. All of these things fit nicely in my large Coach travel weekender I purchased years ago.
Well there you have it! I hope you find these packing tips useful for your next trip!
Live, laugh, shine,