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Because I Come From The Land of Plenty

Plenty. Of stuff. And I have to cram two weeks of stuff into one carry-on bag. Summer stuff. Winter stuff. Hiking stuff. Formal stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. One tiny suitcase.

MTM’s rules.

 

Here are my keys to carrying on for a long trip.

  1. Every piece must make multiple outfits. I use a monochromatic color scheme and layer around it.
  2. Only take washable pieces. I can wear the same three outfits for 15 days as long as they don’t stink.
  3. Use disposable clothing. If I’ve got things tagged for Goodwill or the trash, wear-and-leave is a great option for those items. It makes room in my suitcase for purchases along the way and usually means I come back lighter.
  4. Wear my bulkiest items on the plane. Even if they’re the wrong season. I can always take off my shoes or stuff a sweater in my purse, leaving precious extra inches in my suitcase for other things.
  5. Carry a big purse. I have a leather tote that is big enough for my computer, my iPad, a sweater, primping supplies, an refillable water bottle, spare socks……all the things I might use in flight. It still counts as ‘one small personal item.’
  6. I can always buy it when I get there. I don’t worry about snagging every conceivable thing, because if I really need it, I can get it. The world is a very efficient place these days.
  7. Use convertible clothing. I have a black travel dress that makes ten looks. It’s even washable. If I build my wardrobe around it, I take half as much in my suitcase.
  8. Pack stuff inside shoes. Anything small or pliable, that won’t stink when crammed into shoes for a day. It also protects the shoes from getting crushed.
  9. If you travel in twos, pack smaller shoes inside larger shoes. MTM always puts my shoes inside his triple e’s, meaning my shoes disappear in a suitcase.

Do you have any packing secrets you’d like to share, Dear Reader? It’s too late for me this go round, but we could all use a few tips for the future. Please give your tips in a comment today.

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53 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roll your clothes instead of fold your clothes

    May 29, 2014
    • I wish I could remember that one. I’m a folder, and you’re right. Rolling does take up less space.

      May 29, 2014
  2. *bitterly* Something I still have to learn – leave the kitchen sink at home!
    Multipurpose clothing is a good idea, indeed!

    May 29, 2014
  3. I’m absolutely terrible at packing in that I want to take everything. Thanks for the tips Andra.

    May 29, 2014
  4. I don’t travel enough (other than by car) to be proficient. I simply thank God that the days of traveling with kids were BEFORE the days of “fees” for every little whipstitch! 🙂 Have a great time on your trip!

    May 29, 2014
  5. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    Someone already mentioned rolling your clothes, which saves space. I also have a travel rule that I will only take two pair of shoes. Dan, on the other hand, packs as though he is going for a long sojourn when in reality, it’s usually just a weekend. Safe travels!

    May 29, 2014
    • I can’t see Dan being high maintenance……….That made me smile.

      May 29, 2014
  6. Good tips, Andra.

    May 29, 2014
  7. Wait you forgot the feet. 🙂 Good job on the packing

    May 29, 2014
  8. Impressive discipline. The Goodwill notion is right on.

    May 29, 2014
  9. I also roll my clothes and place items within the roll to save space (like roll a shirt around a bedroom slipper or underwear). If i’m checking a bag and carrying on one, I keep a change of clothes in the carry-on in case my luggage is lost.

    May 29, 2014
    • I’m sure we’ll check bags on the return, because MTM is determined to buy wine………

      May 29, 2014
  10. tarakianwarrior #

    Wow! I’ve seen how you do – thanks for the instructions by the way – but I’m not sure that I would be able to do it…yikes! Job well done though…amazing.

    May 29, 2014
    • MTM does the packing. I just make a pile of stuff, and he figures out how to make it all fit.

      May 29, 2014
  11. I really like the tip about Goodwill…and leave behind clothes. And the whole notion of “I can get it when I get there” makes sense. Long years ago (the only time) I traveled to Europe, I forgot hair products, and surprise (not really, but to an 18 year old it was) that they have just as many / similar products there. One supposes that after all these years that brands have gone more global and that brands we know and love here are available “there”–wherever there happens to be. Have a GRAND time and find some new stuff to love.

    May 29, 2014
    • I’ve got to get contact solution when I get there, because I’m going to run out. Nothing is really a big deal these days.

      Thanks for the shoulder today. xo

      May 29, 2014
  12. A great list of tips, Andra – and I can get my shoes into Tom’s with no problem. hehe
    I don’t travel much these days, and when I do, it is usually to family – and I STILL bring too much, which is silly because they have a washer and dryer and anything else I might need.
    Ditto to you and to others on Goodwill tip. It lessens one’s load, and there is usually someone who can use our castoffs.

    May 29, 2014
    • I only feel bad about leaving things when the hotel calls and emails and tracks us down because they think we forgot things. Even when we put them in the trash, that sometimes happens.

      May 29, 2014
      • Debbie #

        When we were in New Zealand years ago one of our friends left a pair of holy worn out jeans in the trash. The hotel contacted his employer and they mailed the jeans back to him!

        May 30, 2014
  13. Ahh, must disagree here. I find customs agents to be very suspicious if all I have is a carry on especially upon returning to the”home of the brave.” I also don’t want to spend what little money I have on stuff that is sitting at home.

    May 29, 2014
    • They haven’t bothered with us…….(and as soon as I type that………..)

      May 29, 2014
  14. Yay, packing things inside my shoes frees up all sorts of room! Thanks for the tip. 🙂

    May 29, 2014
  15. Carlos Ovalle #

    I travel a lot everywhere in the world and most of the time with only a carry-on bag. I’ve observed that most people don’t pay attention to the weight and volume of carry-on bags. Many of these weigh 10lbs or even more and the available space is taken up with bells and whistles like extendable handles, wheels, lots and lots of pockets and zippers.

    When you consider that airlines have size and weight rules, you could be limiting your carrying capacity by half. Say the airline has a weight limit of 22lbs and your bag weighs 10lbs?
    A long time ago I gave up the bells and whistles for a Campmor carry-on bag that I purchased used in almost new condition for less than $10. It weighs 1 lb. and has only one external pouch for toiletries and such. It also has a compartment that holds the padded backpack straps which I find necessary in lieu of the wheels. Even in the largest airports or train stations the travel distance is limited so it’s not an inconvenience to carry it as a backpack or with its shoulder strap or padded handle.

    Another thing I do is I limit the things I bring by assuming I can purchase some items at my destination. Inexpensive teeshirts for example, or flip-flops, or some toiletries. You can leave that stuff behind when your trip is done if you need the room to bring back that didjerido or whatever.

    May 29, 2014
    • And, I am bringing back a didgeridoo………….

      Our Patagonia bags aren’t rollers. They have shoulder straps and convert to backpacks. They’re awesome. Compact and lightweight, and they hold a lot of stuff. I agree about the rollers. They add unnecessary weight and bulk. I can even slide my Patagonia bag underneath the seat in front of me if necessary.

      May 29, 2014
  16. Seems to me you have it covered, Andra 🙂

    May 29, 2014
    • I forgot to pack spare contact lenses, so not quite……… 🙂

      May 29, 2014
  17. Kir Piccini #

    great advice: Big Purse! Even better: versatile black dress with lots of looks and two pairs of shoes.
    Wishing you a safe, enjoyable trip you’ve got the packing done! 🙂

    May 29, 2014
  18. Wow, that tip about packing inside shoes and nesting shoes is a neat ninja trick I’ve never heard of before. Gimme more like that!

    May 29, 2014
  19. Teresa Mello #

    Toiletries are already in your hotel room, so leave the shampoo and conditioner at home. Unfortunately, Lou and I cannot use the lotion supplied by the hotel because of the high fragrance content, but we just go to the nearest pharmacy and buy lotion. A lot of stuff we use of each other’s too. We will never get our suitcases down to your size but we are trying.

    May 29, 2014
    • We’re staying in some places that may not have s & c, but we’ll deal. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. If you want to meet for a flat white or some wine, MTM’s phone will be working.

      May 29, 2014
  20. You’ve got a pretty good list there, Andra. Don’t know if I could do it with one little bag. I have a friend that travels often and buys her clothing at Chico’s because they don’t wrinkle and are perfect for traveling. Do you have one of those in your neck of the woods? 🙂

    May 29, 2014
  21. Great tips, before I even opened it I was thinking what an expert you must be! Love from a classic over packer : )

    May 30, 2014
    • If any of these tips lighten your future loads, please let me know. 🙂

      May 30, 2014
      • Well….I am going to re-pack today before I leave tomorrow so you have motivated me!

        May 31, 2014
  22. I am a disastrous packer: the wisest thing I ever did was delegate packing to my children!

    May 30, 2014
  23. Not too long ago I saw an advertisement for plastic zip up bags that you could suck the air out of and make the thing half its original size or smaller. Would that work for traveling?

    May 30, 2014
    • It’s really hard to get those back in the suitcase on the return, James.

      May 31, 2014
  24. A subject near and dear to my heart. 🙂
    Several years ago I was travelling for work, and had to pack for 2 outfits per day (daytime/night-time) for 8 days, and had to fit it into a carry on. I thought I was doomed. Then a colleague directed me to a video article in the New York Post, I think, about ‘rolling’ clothing for most efficient packing. Changed my life. It’s exactly what it sounds like: you literally roll every piece of clothing into tight little sausage looking things. Also shove small items into shoes (like you said). Other than that – it’s about minimizing # of shoes, which breaks my heart, but must be done.

    May 31, 2014
    • I don’t know how MTM managed to fit my hiking shoes into my bag for this leg, but he did it. Shoes take up a ton of room. I always try to keep them to a minimum, too, as hard as that is for me.

      May 31, 2014
  25. Wow. I applaud you! I tell myself that i am being “prepared” when i pack. Lol.

    June 2, 2014

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