On average we wear about 20% of the clothes in our closet. So why is it when we start packing for a trip we feel the need to bring the other 80% (that we don't often wear) along?? That's right, 55% percent of those surveyed by Cheapflights.com admitted that they overpack. Listen, if you don't wear it at home, the chances of of you wearing on vacation are nill to none. Less is definitely more when it comes to packing.
How do you pack like a pro? On my monthly segment on AM Northwest, I shared a few of my secrets to successfully packing everything you need whether you're going away for a few days or three weeks.
On the show I shared how to pack a 25" bag which is a standard carry-on for most airlines. However, you may want to get a 21" bag since some airlines are lowering the allowed carry-on size to 21 inches. If you absolutely need to check a bag choose a bag no larger than 28" and be sure it's a lightweight bag. You can find 28" suitcases that are as light as 8 pounds, which is pretty light. This is a great way to avoid the over 50 pound fee when you start with a lighter bag.
This is the number one reason so many people overpack. Take out a sheet a paper and in one column write down the days you'll be away including travel days. In the next column write out the weather forecast. Then add in those must attend events and the type of event (i.e, wedding, special dinner, award banquet, etc.) to determine what you need to wear. Then fill in the activities you'll be doing on the other days. Will you be doing a lot of walking or sightseeing? Taking a hiking trip? Spending the day shopping? Will you be in the hotel all day listening to a variety of speakers? Is there a "dress code?" Based on your responses write in exactly what you're going to wear on those days.
I think it's best to use three key colors: two neutrals and one accent color. This allows for a little more variety in your wardrobe. The key is to find colors that match well with each other so you can mix and match your wardrobe while you're away. I'll often bring a skirt, a dress, a pant, a jean, a nice blouse, two tanks, a cardigan (that can be worn as a top), and a finishing piece like a blazer. If the colors work well together I can create up to 20 different outfit with just these essential pieces. By adding one or two colorful scarves and jewelry, each outfit can have a completely different look. Finally, bring no more than three pair of shoes: a comfortable but stylish walking shoe, a dressier shoe, and a flat (that can be flip flops or sneakers). Make sure that each shoe can go with everything you bring.
Packing cubes not only protect your clothes, they allow you to pack more efficiently. You can also pull the packing cubes out of your suitcase and place them right in the hotel drawers keeping your clothes clean and in order. I also use a packing cube for my three pair of shoes. In the segment I show how I use my packing cubes.
When you're traveling to hotels or staying with family or friends, there's no need to overpack toiletries. The basics will be there for you like soap, lotion, shampoo, and a blow dryer. Some hotels even offer q-tips, cotton balls, and even a toothbrush and toothpaste if you forget it. Call ahead if you're unsure so you don't have to fill your bag with these things. Same with your makeup bag. Consider what you need or wear most often, and just bring those things. However, I do recommend that you bring a steamer (if you're going to a conference where you clothes matter), a mini-lent brush, a Tide stick, and Downey's wrinkle release spray to keep your clothes fresh and ready to be re-worn.
I carry a large tote as my second carry on for the sole purpose of holding all of the goodies I'll pick up on my trip. Heading out, my bag is mostly empty holding only a small cross-body purse for everyday wear and my laptop. I may also include snacks and a small bag containing ibuprofen, socks, ear plugs, any medications, and a hydrating mist. Since I won't be able to fit additional items in my suitcase, having this extra tote ensures I can bring things back without trying to stuff them in my suitcase, weighing it down or needing to check it on the way home.
Use these tips on your next trip and you too will be a pro at packing.
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