I think I have over packed for every single trip I have been on. Even if I wear all the clothes I bring, I could easily get away with taking a lot less and I definitely never need as many shoes as I pack. The trouble is, I like to have options. So as much as I try to be practical about packing, I always run into trouble.
This meme pretty much sums up my thought process for packing perfectly…
Tomorrow I am headed to the Big Island of Hawaii with my mom for 5 days. If I was packing for necessity, all I would really need is a couple of swimsuits, a couple dresses, a pair of shorts, some sandals and a tank top. Oh, and sunscreen. I don’t think I have every packed that realistically, but even though I over pack, I pack only carry-on.
The longest trip I have packed carry-on only for would be about 2 weeks in Hawaii a few summers back, and after packing for tomorrow, it looks like I am bringing just as much stuff. But a blogger can’t get away with the same outfit for two days when the sunset and beach photo ops are abounding. I realize I am sounding very frivolous right about now, but at least I am not checking two huge suitcases full of hair stuff and shoes, right?
So, if you are interested in how I managed to pack 7 swimsuits, two jumpsuits, 3 skirts, 7 maxi dresses, 3 kimonos, 2 cover ups, 2 matching sets, 3 shoes, toiletries, electronics, accessories and more in an overhead roller and small under the seat duffel bag, keep reading.
- Make a list of the stuff you use everyday at home that you might need to bring.
This probably sounds obvious but sometimes you keep your medications or a charger in a spot in your house that you only see when you use it and when you’re headed to the airport realize you forgot your eye-drops, eczema cream, camera charger, etc, in your nightstand. So I write out the most basic list of:
- Phone Charger
- Camera Charger
You get the picture. The stuff you need besides clothes and shoes.
- Get everything you think you want to bring out to look at and narrow down your options by planning outfits.
To start packing, I put everything I think I would want to bring onto my bed. This pile is huge and definitely won’t fit or make sense to schlep across the pacific ocean so I split it into “maybe” and “definitely” piles and get rid of the rest.
If it is a bright color or something that doesn’t go with most of your clothes, only bring it if you have an outfit you can plan it with.
- Decide how to fold, roll, or layer your clothing depending on the material and your bag.
Once I have my selected garments, it is time to fit them in my suitcase. Since most of the stuff I pack for a tropical destination like Hawaii is really flowy and silky, they compact pretty easily and I like to put everything in like layers instead of rolls to maximize space.
(When I am traveling for a long time, like last Winter when Michael and I went to Ireland for two weeks to visit his family and then flew to Spain for a two week road trip I rolled up my clothes tightly, did the layering technique I will go into and framed my suitcase with boots. That was much harder since I was packing for cold weather.)
- Assemble clothing only and save shoes, toiletries and electronics for your smaller bag.
I start by folding my garments in half which is about the size of the bag I am bringing. Since it is a hard sided bag with a set structure, it makes it easy to layer the clothing and they will fall into place with the bag instead of building at the sides like a duffel bag. Once the larger items are folded and layered on the bottom, I start to line up the smaller things like shorts, tank tops, blouses, etc. They come into an even layer and you can keep adding stuff on top of it. Once you hit the top level of the bag, stop. The rest of your stuff can go in the other bag.
- Pack toiletries in a travel-sized bottle set in a clear case to put in your smaller bag for easy runs through security.
This one is pretty self explanatory. I pour conditioner, shampoo, lotion, face wash, a small amount of my eczema cream into small bottles and put my foundation in with them too so when you go through security you can easily get it out of your bag without unzipping everything and just put them in the bin. Make sure to put lip-glosses or liquid makeup in too just in case, so you don’t have to go through your bag with the handsy TSA agent. One time I forgot I had a mini perfume roller in with my cosmetics and they had to go through everything to pull it out.
- Wear your bulkiest shoes on travel day if they are comfortable enough and wear layers on the plane.
If I forget to bring something and don’t have room to pack it, I throw it on. As much of a pain it is to take boots off at security, if you wear them and bring a pair of fuzzy socks to change into on the plane your suitcase will thank you weight wise and room wise. Just take your shoes off while you are still in line, not the second you’re supposed to go through the x-ray portal.
I also usually throw my swimsuits and bras and underwear into my smaller bag instead of the main because they are lightweight and you can fit all your other stuff on top or around them.
Here is a travel sized bottle set that I love and my duffel bag is from World Market.
What are your best packing tips and tricks?