Have you ever been on a train or plane and looked admiringly at those people that can get by with a small carry-on bag? Haven’t you wondered how they could manage with just that small little bag for a 3 week trip to Europe? Did you ever puzzle over why it takes a Sherpa to transport your luggage? You’re probably asking yourself…. “what am I doing wrong?”.
I have never been someone that could severely limit my luggage (just ask my husband/Sherpa). I guess one could say it’s an occupational hazard. I would always think about all those beautiful outfits at home, languishing alone in my closet. I have also fallen victim to dressing in the perfect ensemble, only to be shattered by the realization that the perfect bag for this outfit was left out.
Although I will never be part of the “carry-on elite”, I do have many tried and true tips for the packing -challenged.
Think in terms of “outfits”. Do not throw in a lot of “orphans”. What I mean by this, is pack things that go together. Do not include pieces that do not relate to the rest of your choices. Some people choose to keep their clothing in either the brown (earth tones) or black (cool tones) families.
Along these same lines, make sure every bottom has 2-3 tops. Bottoms are generally less memorable than tops. By including a few different tops for a denim skirt or cute capris, you have created 2-3 outfits instead of one.
Choose pieces that can perform “double duty”. An ethnic inspired tunic can be worn as a bathing suit cover up or over jeans for a city tour. Zip off pants are also a good choice, as they can start out on a cool day and end up at the beach with the quick slip of the zipper.
Lightweight and wrinkle-free fabrics are a godsend for travelers. These new fabrications are great for the little space they take up, as well as their good looks after spending hours rolled up in a suitcase. Scala makes a great line of packable hats for keeping the sun off your face. Remember to hang up garments upon arrival so they have time to breathe before wearing. A good steam in the bathroom while you shower, also does wonders for all fabrics.
Don’t underestimate the power of Denim. Although this is no-no for a lot of power packers, I think it is a must have for most people. A nice pair of jeans can be dressed up or down for both men and women. They can be rolled up to a capri for daytime, and jeans are understood everywhere. Denim almost never shows dirt, and can be in the lightest and stretchiest fabrication. Denim is also one of the few pieces you will own that goes with almost everything.
T-shirt dressing is the way to go. the basic tee is such a versatile piece, that more of them can only be better. Layering them makes for a fashionable look, and they can be worn in many different combinations. They also satisfy the “double duty” criteria, as they can be daytime/nighttime appropriate and worn over beachwear. Get a little creative with the colors and you’re there!
Flip-flops are a travelers best friend. Footwear can be a very mystifying part of the packing process. A good quality, nice looking pair of flip flops can be used in many different environments, and they’re comfortable! Again, they meet the “double duty” criteria on many levels. A fashionable trainer, like those by diesel or sketchers, can be a good shoe for travel. They are lightweight, and can be worn for many hours of sightseeing. Remember to pack one pair of dressy sandals/shoes for a fancy night out at that 4- star restaurant.
A neutral colored cardigan can save the day (or night). Lots of destinations can be chilly at night despite being hot and muggy during the day. Plan for this to happen. Again, layering can be a good strategy for cool evenings, and a cardigan or neutral colored wrap can solve the problem. I also use a wrap on long plane rides, as they are nicer that the airline blankets. Pashminas work well for this. If you are going to bring a heavier weight jacket, wear it rather than packing it.
Think before you carry on. Make sure whatever you bring as your carry on luggage, can be carried everywhere else. If you like a backpack, bring that. If you’re headed to the beach use a lightweight, waterproof mesh bag to carry on. Once you get to your destination, this bag will get lots of use.
Lastly, leave a little “wiggle” room. Most of us come back from vacation with something new, even if they’re souvenirs for loved ones. Make sure you leave a little extra room to accommodate these. You’d hate to pass up those gorgeous Tony Llama cowboy boots from the dude ranch, just because they don’t fit in your luggage!
Now that you are such an expert packer, I hope to see you rolling your not-too-large roller bag through some exotic airport. Look for me, I’ll be the one with the Sherpa…