Packing is a skill you learn over time. I’ll admit, before I went to work at Pace, I used to be the guy that packed two suitcases for a vacation. I wanted to be prepared for any and every situation and I made sure I was. When I returned, I had only worn about 1/3 of what I took and all that packing, unpacking and hauling was a waste of time. This lead me to the conclusion that if I’m standing on a suitcase trying to zip it, it’s probably a bad thing.
This being said, good packing begins with a good plan, then good execution. Here are my top tips for better packing, in chronological order.
If you wear both colors, you’ll need shirts, pants, socks, shoes and belts to match both. Women will have a hard time going with one pair of shoes, but keeping this in mind will at least help reduce “shoe creep.”
So, simplify everything by deciding whether this trip will be a brown trip or a black trip and then pack accordingly.
Pack Moderate Items
Mitt Romney’s moderate and popular, so why not your clothes? This is all about having items pull double duty. If you are packing two (or three) complete outfits per day, that exponentially increases the space you’ll use.
Guys: pack shirts that you can wear to a meeting with slacks, then out at night with jeans (or vice versa). If you can pull off wearing the same pair of shoes day and night, even better.
Ladies: find an outfit that is comfortable and convertible. If you need a jacket for a meeting in the day, maybe drop it for the evening to sexy it up, or swap it with a sweater to be more casual. Try to pack things that can be swapped into more than one outfit.
reduce, REUSE, recycle
If you’re still washing your jeans after every use, it’s time to grow up. Jeans are dirty when there’s mustard, tar, mud or blood on them. Otherwise, they are probably good to go.
Anyway, I never travel with more than 1 pair of jeans. If I have 3 consecutive days of meetings with the same group, I’ll take 2 pairs of slacks, but if it’s just 2 days, I’ll wear the same pants both days. Shirts are slightly different, but they can be re-worn as long as you’re not with the same people. I’ll often wear the exact same thing traveling up as I do traveling back.
Wear Your Bulky Items
How do you get that big coat to your destination without it filling up your bag? Wear it! Women need to keep this in mind with boots, large purses and jeans. Guys, if you are taking shorts to wear with flip-flops and jeans to wear with shoes, pack the shorts/flip-flops and wear the jeans/shoes. You’ll sacrifice a little comfort, but save a ton of space.
Minimize Your Toiletries
Your toiletries can constitute a large or small amount of your bag space, depending on how you pack. Even sleazy hotels give you complimentary soap and shampoo these days. I haven’t traveled with either of those in years. If you want to take your own hairspray, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc., head to Walmart and pick up the travel size items by the pharmacy. They are all less than 4 oz. by design and a lot of popular brands are available. If you use special salon quality products, many salon brands now offer travel sizes, or just buy the small empty travel bottles at Walmart and put your own product in them. Oh, and then hairdryers. Do you really need your own jet propulsion device? All hotels have hairdryers, and though some are pretty crappy, you can probably get by with them for a week.
Roll Away the Wrinkles
I learned this trick from an ex-military guy. It’s simple and brilliant, but most people don’t think of it.
Folding your clothes accomplishes 3 things:
- It adds more air, so clothes take up more room, so you need a bigger bag.
- It adds wrinkles and seams to every shirt and most pants.
- It makes hotel irons wear out much sooner than they should.
To prove my point, here’s an example. These were the items I packed for a 4 day trip with 3 meetings and my international standard size Tumi carry-on.
If folded, this is the finished product. Everything fits, but there’s zero room left.
Now, here are the exact same items rolled into the exact same suitcase. Notice all the extra space and the fact that you can actually see the bottom of the suitcase.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: I stack my items from largest to smallest on a flat surface.
Step 2: Fold the arms in. The goal is to make the width at this point, the right length for the roll. I use the length of my suitcase as the gauge.
Step 3: Start at the bottom, away from the collars, and begin rolling up, keeping everything smooth.
Step 4: Stick the roll in your suitcase and celebrate victory and a virtually wrinkle free trip.
When you get to your destination, pull out your shirts and pants to hang them up. You can use the drawers or live out of your suitcase for the rest of the stuff. Just be sure to check all the drawers before you depart if you decide to use them. That’s the most common place items are left in hotel rooms.
If you have other packing tips, please share them below.