Raise your hand if you have a tendency to over pack. Like need to sit on your suitcase, all-hands-on-deck-to-zip over pack.
A few years ago, if there had been some form of 12-step program for those who jam the suitcase contents for a month-long excursion into a bag intended for a long weekend, I belonged at the top of that RSVP list. Then there was the occasional trip where shockingly I under packed – like when I backpacked through Europe after college and froze my butt off because I didn’t want to risk carrying too much gear on my back. But between my love of travel and shows that have taken me on the road for months at a time, over the years I’ve refined my packing strategy.
For me, when it comes to packing for a trip, it’s all about versatility. Fabrics that don’t wrinkle, a palette that mixes and matches seamlessly, and pieces that carry from day to night. Especially in cities where the weather turns on a dime (ahem San Francisco and Seattle..I’m talking to you) versatility is key.
I now pride myself on easily zipping up my suitcase, and no longer having it be so strenuous that I can count it as that day’s cardio. Stick with these 5 simple tips and you’ll be aptly prepared to jet set in no time.
1) Stick to a neutral palette – Keep most of your wardrobe options neutral with a few colorful accents thrown into the mix. I love me some color, but make life easy by incorporating a colorful scarf, necklace, or beanie that takes up next to no space in your bag. I tend to root my wardrobe in black and white when I travel, so it takes any guesswork out of picking an outfit for the day. I also always bring a few pieces with interesting details like lace or eyelet so even when I’m wearing a very neutral outfit, it is anything but dull.
2) Layer, layer, layer – Unless you’re heading to a particularly cold destination, avoid bulkier pieces like denim, heavy sweaters or leather jackets. Instead, layer up with light sweaters, tees, and scarfs. Even in a colder climate, I often forgo all of my denim and instead opt for leggings, maxi skirts, and this season in particular, culottes. Then I top it off with one or two jackets that go with everything in my suitcase like a black or cream blazer, a trench, or even a black sleeveless jacket.
3) Roll your clothes -This tried-and-true method has been my go-to packing strategy for years. It’s incredible how small a jacket can get when it’s rolled, let alone any other item in your suitcase.
4) Invest in a few packing cubes – Rick Steve’s are a godsend! They keep me organized (you can organize outfits by day, group by tops/bottoms/etc..whatever suits you) and double as a great place to store your dirty laundry as it accumulates.
5) Keep the shoe count down – Packing shoes is consistently the trickiest part of my packing plan. I am a heel toting girl to my very core, but when I travel, I tend to avoid them all together, unless I’m attending a wedding, meeting, etc. I nearly always wear a pair of boots to the airport (keeping the bulk out of my suitcase and my feet from getting cold on the plane). Then I bring a neutral sandal or two (okay, or three) and a sneaker or flat option.
I tend to walk miles and miles when I’m in a new city so I can really soak up the city from a local’s perspective. Because of this, I have a standing rule when it comes to shoes: If I can’t comfortably walk at least five miles in them, they stay at home. Drastic I know, but bad blisters are a major buzzkill that can put a huge damper on a vacation. Place all of your shoes and any other heavy item near the wheels of your suitcase so it doesn’t topple over.
And voila! You’re packed and ready to go.
A few P.S. notes on this particular outfit..
This Lauren Merkin bag has been on my shoulder more often than not lately. It’s the perfect size for my wallet, cell phone, and a few do-dads, but is small enough to prevent the dreaded endless search for (insert vital object here) that has sunk to the bottom. May have to invest in another color soon
When I bought this Banana Republic jacket last year, I couldn’t believe how similar it was to several Burberry options I had my eye on. I’m obsessed with the slight sheen, the quilting, and it’s perfect shape/length, with just the right amount of slouch. I’ve had it for a while but I’ve gathered a few of my other favorites here and here so you can snag one for yourself!
UTILITARIAN JACKET (OLD – OTHER FAVORITES HERE, HERE, AND HERE) | CALIFORNIA TANK (ONLY $15) | FAUX LEATHER LEGGINGS (60% OFF) | CROSSBODY BAG (ALSO IN YELLOW HERE AND CREAM WITH GOLD POLKA DOTS HERE | LAYERED NECKLACE (ON SALE) | ANKLE WRAP SANDAL (OLD – SIMILAR HERE AND HERE) | MINIMALIST RINGS | LIPSTICK (CLAUDIA) | NAIL POLISH (STANDOUT)
Photos by Mike Avery