Organizing for Travel Part 3: Packing

I’m fortunate enough to have lots of opportunities to travel, so you would think that I’d be a pro by now.  However, I’m constantly battling a chronic case over over-pack-itis, and I only seem to be able to control the quantity by pre-selecting the size of the bag.

To give myself some credit, however, my packing process is straightforward and probably takes under an hour start to finish.  I frequently pack day-of, even for long trips, and rarely feel like I don’t have what I need while I’m away.  Also, since I first started sharing my packing struggles here, I’ve been increasingly able to pack for longer trips in a carry on suitcase.  This is less a point of pride than it is a relief when I’m schlepping through airports and train stations!  So, here’s how I do it.

I start by checking the exact forecast for my destination.  You’d be surprised how few people do this, and just rely on overall weather trends.  This is how you can end up freezing in a late blizzard in the mountains or broiling in an early heat wave in NYC.

I then choose a base color – I picked black for this trip to Italy since it feels more fashion-y to me than my usual favorite navy blue.  This helps me narrow the items I can choose from and helps ensure that every piece goes with everything else. 

Next, I go through each section of my closet and drawer one by one, pulling items as I go.  Same order, every time, so I don’t forget anything.

I then lay everything out together on my bed, sorted by category.  At this point, it’s easy to see the kind of quantity I’m dealing with and which items are superfluous.  I (try to) edit ruthlessly.  The final packing list for a (hopefully) fashion forward late September trip to northern Italy: leather jacket, cardigan, v-neck sweater, jersey cocktail dress, ponte dress, cotton day dress, t-shirt dress, cotton midi dress, pair of jeans, silk joggers, lace pencil skirt, cotton midi skirt, short jean skirt, off the shoulder blouse, long sleeved silk blouse, silk t-shirt, 3 silk tanks, 3 cotton t-shirts, 2 silk scarves, ballet flats, flat sandals, wedge sandals, high heeled sandals, and leather sneakers (plus undergarments, toiletries, and carry on bag which I'll detail in an upcoming post).

The only thing that didn’t make the final edit from this shot was the denim jacket – it’s bulky and doesn’t actually go with every bottom I packed.   I could probably have lost the cotton day dress, the t-shirt dress, a t-shirt, and the nude strappy wedges and still have been fine, but it all fit without having to sit on top of the suitcase so in they went.  And as it turned out, I wore everything multiple times except for a navy and white striped silk tank – go figure, since it didn’t fit the color scheme!

I then pick my outfit for the plane, which always incorporates the bulkiest shoe and jacket I’m bringing along.

My Tumi Vapor Series carry on (which I LOVE – it’s super light, fits a surprising amount of stuff, and the four wheeled spinner style is everything) splits down the middle.  I roll the clothes in categories and put them in the zipper half to keep them away from the toiletries and shoes, which go in the other side, and stuff small items in the empty spaces between shoes. Anything that didn’t fit in the zipper side gets laid on top.

A somewhat shameful admission: you guys, this trip I forgot my pajamas.  MY PAJAMAS.  I’m a matching set nightly kinda girl, I never forget those!  Oh well, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a t-shirt to bed and calling it good.