With airline fees skyrocketing left and right, carry-ons are making more sense than ever. Fortunately, luggage makers are stepping up to the plate by upgrading their wares and turning out bags that combine practicality and style in one swoop.
But, if you’re a serial over-packer like me, it might be a little daunting to think you can fit everything you need for a long weekend in “one carry-on and a personal item”—never mind if I’m going away for a week!
With that in mind, I collected some tips on how to pack (lightly) for my next trip. Do you have any to add? Please do! (I can use all the help I can get!)
Top tip: Don’t pack at the last minute. While I very much like to get to the airport early, I usually make sure I’m too busy to pack until the night before. Bad idea. There’s a lot to be said for thinking your outfits through and laying them out (if you have a spare bedroom, put it to good use).
Make a list. Yes, cheesy as it sounds, a packing list is a great idea. Don’t trust your brain to recall everything at the last minute. The travelers at IndependentTraveler.com have a great interactive packing list you can customize—highly recommended. It even has space for you to type in your own picks.
Think it through. Try to stick to double duty pieces, preferably in neutrals you can mix and match. You can always add color with a scarf (that can double as a belt or a head wrap, for example.)
3-ounce rule. If you’re a frequent traveler, keep a stash of unused mini amenities in a basket at home to pull from on your next trip. There are websites like alltravelsizes.com where you can get great samples from name brands in just the right size. If you prefer your own shampoo and lotion, buy as many 3 oz clear plastic bottles at the pharmacy or shop as will fit in a quart size Ziploc bag, label clearly with a Sharpie and tape the lids shut.
Rolling vs. folding. OK, there are two schools of thought on how to pack your clothes. I’ve tried both, and I have to say… I do both. You can tightly roll clothes to make them more compact and easier to pack; it’s ideal for synthetics: think track pants, shorts, PJs, etc. However, if you have clothes that wrinkle easily, I say fold: but there’s a science to it, though. Put the long items like pants and dresses flat on the bottom of the suitcase with the legs and/or bottoms hanging out. Then neatly fold or roll (depending on the material) the rest of the clothes on top. Small items like underwear, socks and swimsuits go into plastic bags with the air squeezed out, then rolled and tucked into shoes. The shoes go tucked into the corners of the suitcase with the soles sticking out. Heavy stuff like toiletry bag and hair dryer go in the middle. Then, just fold the hanging part of the clothes over everything and voilà! It’s packed! One more tip: Eagle Creek makes some wicked Packing Cubes and Packing Folders. Well worth the investment.