I love to travel, but there’s one thing I absolutely dread about it, and that’s the packing. Between my long-distance relationship, wedding season, and general family obligations, it feels like I’m constantly packing my suitcase and heading out of town these days. And with Memorial Day and summer on the horizon, it’s only about to pick up. Needless to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about the do’s and don’ts of packing over the last few months, so I thought I’d share my tips for those of you who have some traveling ahead:
1) Plan your outfits in advance – My favorite resource for outfit planning is Pinterest. A few weeks before my trip, I’ll often create a secret board where I pin everything from outfit inspiration, to photos of the locations I plan on visiting. This helps me envision what I might want to wear while I’m there, and leaves me time to plan ahead and shop for any items I may want to bring along. Even if you don’t have a strict itinerary in mind, thinking about what you might do during the trip will help you pack accordingly. For example, what types of restaurants will you be dining at? Are there any events that you’re attending? If so, do they have a specific dress code? What activities will you be doing while you’re there? Will they require you to pack extra supplies? Anticipating each scenario will help prepare you for any unexpected situations that may occur.
2) Take photos – Taking photos in or of the outfits that you plan to bring is extremely helpful. I usually snap a few photos on my phone as I’m planning/packing, so that I can refer back to them once I’ve arrived to my destination. That way you don’t have to worry about outfit planning while you’re on the trip.
3) Pack the essentials – No matter where I’m headed, there are a few pieces that I rarely leave town without: a classic denim or leather jacket, a basic tee that can be dressed up or down, comfortable walking shoes, and something easy and loose fitting (but still stylish) for the car or plane ride. I also recommend wearing a crossbody bag to keep your hands free while you’re exploring.
4) Pick a palette – I generally opt for neutral colors, like tan, white, black, and grey since they coordinate with everything. Wrinkles also tend to be less visible with neutral colors, so it’s a win-win.
5) Think versatile – Versatile pieces are just as important as versatile colors when it comes to maximizing your wardrobe. I find that shoes and accessories play the biggest role in transforming an outfit, so I’ll often bring something like a simple black dress or black skinny jeans that I can dress up or down with a quick swap of heels or sneakers. Because shoes can take up quite a bit of space, I rarely bring more than 3 pairs – 2 casual (sneakers and sandals) and 1 dressy (boots or heels). To maximize suitcase space, try to wear your bulkiest pair while traveling. I also like to bring a few pieces of fancier jewelry that help transition my daytime looks into nighttime looks. (*Packing tip for jewelry: To keep your necklaces from tangling, unclasp the chain, thread it through a drinking straw, then re-clasp the chain – a complete lifesaver!)
6) Create an itemized checklist – No matter how prepared you might feel, having a checklist will reduce your chances of forgetting something. Your list will inevitably vary from trip to trip, but it’s great for those items that will come with you no matter where you’re headed. My list includes everything from my wallet and passport, to hair ties and bobby pins.
7) Check the weather – This almost goes without saying, but I always check the weather a few days leading up to the trip. You might discover some unexpected weather conditions, so it’s helpful for any last minute adjustments you may need to make with your packing.
By adopting this routine I’ve reduced my packing anxiety, have far fewer of those, “I can’t believe I forgot my ___ moments, and feel a much bigger sense of accomplishment when the job is done, knowing I’m as prepared as can be.