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Packing Perfect: Tips and Tricks from a Packing Pro

I am by no means a light packer. If you’re looking for tips as to how to fit a week’s worth of outfits into a carry-on bag, this post is not for you. Although I don’t necessarily pack light, packing to move overseas for 9 months and packing for a variety of different trips has made me an expert packer. Here are my secrets to packing in the most succinct way possible while making sure that I have something for every occasion:

  1. Plan your activities

  2.  It’s almost impossible not to over pack when you don’t know what you’re going to be doing! Start by planning out your vacation’s itinerary and checking the weather. This way, you have some idea how many swimsuits you need, how many days you’ll want to spend in comfortable walking shoes, and how many nights you’ll be wearing heels. Failure to plan is planning to fail so be sure to plan out your trip before you pack to avoid arriving with a suitcase full of unnecessary items.

  3. Start preparing in advance

  4. If at all possible, don’t pack the night before your trip. Packing in a hurry is another easy way to over pack and forget essentials. You need time to plan out your outfits and may need to go shopping for additional items not already in your closet. Personally, I like to start thinking about what I’m going to pack at least a week before my departure. This way, I’m not at all rushed and have plenty of time to make adjustments.

  5. Lay out your outfits

  6. The first thing I do when I start packing is lay out all my outfits on the bed in our guest room (or sometimes my bed and the bed in our guestroom, depending on the duration of the trip). Seeing all of the clothes laid out allows me to visualize how much stuff I’m taking. Take out your itinerary and lay out one outfit for every day and one for every evening depending on what you will be doing. When selecting outfits, I recommend packing items that wear easily. Maxi-dresses are easy because they transition well from day to evening and don’t require separate bottoms or a top. Jersey knit is a great travel material because it doesn’t hold wrinkles.

Outfits laid out for upcoming Paris trip – one week in advance

  1. Try on to ensure packing perfection

  2. This is what really prevents me from over packing! Try on every single outfit before you pack it. Some pieces could be too big, some too small, and some just may not fit the look you are after for your particular vacation. When you try things on, you can be at ease with what you’ve packed knowing that you like every outfit and everything fits properly. Plus, it keeps you from being forced to pack “just in case” outfits that take up a lot of unnecessary space in your luggage.

  3. Coordinate your accessories

  4. Coordinate your accessories with each outfit to avoid taking your whole jewelry box. Ziplop bags can be a huge help with this process. When I’m going on a longer trip, I like to pick my jewelry for each evening’s outfit and place it in a sandwich bag labeled with the day that I plan on wearing it. This keeps me organized and helps me not to pack my entire jewelry collection. I even sometimes match my lipsticks to each outfit and drop them in the appropriate baggies as well. When selecting shoes, especially heels, trying them on with the outfit is key. Try to stick with basics so that you can mix and match instead of taking a different pair for each outfit. For example, the key here is to take 3 pairs of heels for a 6-night trip and re-wear each pair twice.

I went a little overboard with the heels this trip (it’s my birthday trip), but I will be re-wearing my flats

  1. Recycle what you can

  2. Not only can you re-wear your shoes instead of taking a different pair for every day, but you can also re-wear certain clothing items as well. Mix and match your bottoms with different tops in order to avoid packing a million pairs of pants. This really works with jeans, which can transition from day to evening with a different top and a pair of pumps. I usually travel in jeans and t-shirt and wear the same bottoms when I travel home to save space. If you are planning to mix and match, stick with dark colors (black is your safest bet) to make sure that the items don’t get dirty.

  3. Make a list

  4. Write out a list or take note on your travel itinerary of what you plan to wear eachday. Although this isn’t 100% necessary, it will save you the headache of having to worry about what you’re wearing while you’re vacationing.

  5. Save  room for shopping

  6. If you’re a serious shopper like I am, always bring an empty suitcase! You’ll save yourself time and money by being prepared instead of having to go out and buy a new suitcase or having to pay for an overweight bag. My suggestion is to purchase a nice luggage set in which the medium bag can fit comfortably inside of the larger size bag. Pack your clothes in the medium sized bag and zip it inside the larger bag. Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll have the entire large bag empty for shopping. If you don’t require quite that much shopping space, Target sells great collapsible duffle bags that zip into small pouches that can fit in your backpack or carry on bag until you need them. Vera Bradley duffles also fold nicely.

What are your packing tricks? I’d love to hear from you!

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