For many travelers, packing is one of the worst parts about the trip. But it doesn’t have to be that way: with a little foresight and planning, your packing can be done in a pinch!
Here are 7 packing secrets from seasoned travelers:
1. Fit it all in your carry-on. To start with, limit what you bring, especially avoiding loads of extra shoes and other heavy or bulky items. Save space by rolling your clothes instead of folding them, which can help you take advantages of corners and crevices. If you really want to cram a lot into a single bag, consider using space bags and suction out all the air to collapse them.
For business travel, keep your luggage light by using an overnight delivery service to ship all last minute items from your office to your hotel. You should also consider shipping all the literature and giveaways you’ve collected at trade shows back to your office. Limit the number of clothes you have to pack by using your hotel’s laundering and dry cleaning services if your trip is a week or more. Most hotels have same day service. Note that while these services are expensive, most companies will reimburse you for this expense if you are out of town for at least four days. As a bonus, your clothes will be well pressed instead of suitcase-sorry.
Even on vacation it can pay to ship over-sized items rather than to pay the airline to put them in the belly of the plane. This is especially true for skis and other sports equipment.
2. Be a color coordinator! Pack around one or two basic colors, like black or navy. Mix and match several tops with one pair of pants/one skirt. This saves on shoes, belts, and other accessories, as well. Go one step further like one globe-trotting executive we know who buys his suits with an extra pair of pants. Suit jackets typically get less wear than the pants (most men take them off except during business presentations) and he can easily go a week with one jacket by rotating the pants.
3. Choose the right fabrics. Jersey, knits, and man-made fabrics that wash easily and do not wrinkle are all good choices for travel. Frequent travelers buy smart! Don’t pack delicate silks or clothing that is 100% linen unless you are in love with the rumpled look or plan to spend time ironing.
4. Pack for your destination, rather than for your location. If you are leaving NYC in the heart of winter for a trip to sunny southern California, leave your heavy overcoat at home. Wear a wool blazer or lightweight jacket with a sweater or fleece underneath, plus gloves and a scarf to protect you from the cold as you go back and forth from the airport. You’ll avoid the hassle of dragging around a bulky coat and the few minutes you have in the cold won’t kill you.
5. If you travel frequently, keep your toiletry kit stocked with duplicates of all the items you need (remembering to refresh items like Tylenol as you use them), so you don’t have that last minute rush around the bathroom just before it is time to leave to catch your plane. Since TSA still checks for liquids (although not at all airports and not for all flights), an always-stocked toiletry cosmetics bag is also a good way to make sure you have your liquids in the required 3 oz containers and packed in a plastic bag. Remember that even if you have 3 oz or less of a liquid in a larger bottle, the TSA will not allow the larger size container to board the plane.
6. Look for items that can do double duty. A large shawl works as a blanket for the plane, a beach towel, and as an accessory to dress up an outfit. Sleeping in shorts or sweatpants and a t-shirt that can also be worn at the gym can save space, too. And unless you’re really into photography, perhaps the camera feature of your cellphone will eliminate the need for packing a camera.
7. Leave lots at home. You’ve heard it before, but it can’t be said enough: leave your valuables at home. Even if you will be attending a gala event, don’t be tempted to tote your best jewelry along on your trip. The hassles of keeping it safe from thieves and misfortune far outweigh the boost it gives to your evening attire. Other items you can leave at home include bulky things like hair dryers, slippers and robes, since many hotels provide them (just check with the hotel in advance to be sure).
Victoria Franzese is a writer, fierce New Yorker, mom, and the proud owner of a Goldendoodle named Jenkins. She owned, operated, and wrote for a successful online travel guide for 15 years before selling it to a major media outlet. Now, thankfully, she can write on a variety of different topics and all of her travel is purely for fun.