Yesterday we talked about what I’m packing for my working trip to Europe with dog in tow. Today I thought I’d talk about how I pack. Please note that some of these ideas have been stolen over the years from other avid travelers. My aunt, for example, taught me to pack in outfits, instead of single items. And I’ve picked up a few other tricks along the way. So, without further ado, how I pack:
1. I use a good-sized hiking backpack and try to make sure everything fits in it (even though I carry on some items, they should be able to fit into the main bag in a pinch). This helps keep life simpler (not to mention lighter).
2. I pack by outfit, not by item. First, I lay out seven note cards, each marked with a day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc. etc.). Then I lay out an outfit for each day. If I’m on a short trip, I use the outfits specifically as planned. For a longer trip, I lay out the whole array and think about what other combinations of items will work well together. That way I still can have fun with my wardrobe on the road. For items that can be worn more than once, I situate them between two days (for example, if I’m wearing a tank top and skirt on one day and the same skirt with a t-shirt the next day, I don’t need to pack another skirt, so I lay the skirt over both days).
3. Outfits include underwear. As a lady, this always comes in handy. Some skirts require a certain type of underwear. Some shirts don’t work with certain bras. Make sure you have undergarments that work with every outfit. Same thing goes for socks.
4. Outfits also include jewelry. Of course, jewelry can be re-worn as much as you want, so a little goes a long way. But I still like to match everything up with the outfits I’m taking. (For example, my chunky, fun bracelet doesn’t work with long-sleeves, but looks kick-ass in a sleeveless top). Pack things you know you’ll wear.
5. I pack things in separate bags inside my main bag. For shorter trips, I put individual outfits in individual bags and pack the one I want to wear Friday on the bottom and Monday on the top. For a longer trip, where I’ll be doing more mixing and matching, I tend to bag by item type: underwear in one bag, tops in another and so forth. This makes it easy to toss my stuff into drawers once I get to my rental. It also makes it easier to unpack and repack–pulling out five bags instead of 100 individual items.
I often use cloth bags if I have them, but plastic works just as well (albeit more noisily). And even when I’m using cloth, I keep one or two plastic grocery bags on hand for smelly laundry, wet clothes or dirty shoes that need to be tossed in the bag at some point.
6. I base my packing list on where I’m going. If I know I can pick up a raincoat and bug spray easily, I might not pick any up before I go. If I know I’m staying in an apartment, I may not pack a towel or sheets. If I want to carry a curling iron, but don’t want to buy a converter just for the one plug-in item, I buy the curling iron in country.
7. I always take something nice. Whether it’s just a black pencil skirt and a cute sleeveless top or a full-on dress, I always pack at least one night-on-the-town outfit. You never know when you’ll be invited onto a gazillionaire’s yacht, right? Right. (Also make sure your nice outfit doesn’t wrinkle easily. Finding an iron on the road is less than fun).