Confession, I used to be a chronic overpacker. I was scared I wouldn’t have enough choices so I would throw everything and the kitchen sink into the largest piece of luggage I had. I cannot tell you how many times I came home with over half of the items never worn, yet, they still had to be laundered because they were wrinkled and re-packed with dirty clothes. Then one fateful trip to Sweden I learned the error of my ways. After a cancelled flight, a missed connection, four layovers and 36 hours I arrived in Stockholm, but sadly my luggage did not. Under normal circumstances, one would just run to the nearest store and buy a change of clothes, however, we arrived after midnight and had to be at a business meeting at 8 a.m. So, I did what any jet lagged and dirty girl would do, I washed my Lululemon leggings in the shower with bar soap and let them dry while I slept. Then rolled into that business meeting in slightly damp athleisure wear. Oh, did I forget to mention the business meeting was at Eton headquarters, a luxury clothing manufacturer? I vowed then and there to never leave my fashion fate to the airlines again. It was carry-on only for me from then on.
Drama aside, I have learned a few tricks to make packing more efficient and simple so you can enjoy your vacation. First, you want to make sure you know what your itinerary is so you can pack only what you need. Plan out your outfits for each day. I try to stick with the clothing I love most. No need to pack that sweater you bought that never really fit exactly right, but you think maybe you might want to wear it. Secondly, I try to stick to mostly neutrals so that I can mix and match outfits. Once you’ve decided what you are going to bring, lay it all out sorted by category. Then use packing cubes to contain your categories.
I like to put workout clothes in one cube, nice clothes in another, and undergarments in the smallest. Now channel your inner Tetris skills and shove those babies into your rolling suitcase (I have the Moore and Giles Parker rolling suitcase and I LOVE IT). If I’m traveling to a cold climate I will wear my bulkiest shoes and my jacket, so they don’t take up as much space in my luggage. When you arrive at the hotel all you have to do is pull the cubes out of the suitcase and put them in the drawers and you are unpacked in minutes.
For my personal item I love the MZ Wallace Large Sutton bag. It is lightweight yet fits an incredible amount of stuff. It has handles as well as a crossbody strap to make carrying on your shoulder or attaching it to the handle of your rolling suitcase easy. I keep my MZ Wallace bag packed at all times with my travel necessities so that I can quickly pack for a trip or grab it when I shower at the gym. Inside I keep a pouch with all necessary chargers and a backup battery and three clear toiletry bags. One holds duplicates of all the makeup I wear everyday. One has duplicates of all my shower items. And the last has all my personal hygiene items. I have travel sizes of all my favorite products over 3 oz. The bags are TSA approved, so when going through security you don’t have to dig through your suitcase to get out your liquids. Just grab your clear bags and set them in the tray. My kids will tell you a I have a strict system to get through that security line as quickly and efficiently as possible.
For the children the system is nearly identical. I use a different color packing cube and different color suitcase for each member of the family so that no ones clothes gets mixed up. I also keep a dopp kit packed at all times for each of the kids with a duplicate toothbrush, toothpaste, and hairbrush. Each child is responsible for their own carry-on suitcase and backpack.
Lastly, I pack an empty laundry bag or two — I love this one. This way I have a place to put all the dirty laundry and it doesn’t have to touch any clean items on the way home.