6 Tips For Packing Light

Hi, gals! October was a busy month with two trips for me, one pleasure and one business. Two separate climates, two different travel partners, and two different methods of transportation. The most important difference: packing style.

The first trip was a 10-day road trip with my mom. Our itinerary included camping, shopping at antique stores and thrift shops, visiting garden nurseries, buying local organic food at roadside stands up the California coast, hitting up Carpinteria’s Avocado Festival, and spontaneously watching sunsets on unsuspecting beaches. Because we had the freedom of my car, I hurriedly packed for the adventure a night before, throwing a variety of shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, one nice outfit, and a few campfire-ready sweatshirts into my 6th grade camp duffel. It was not planned, chic, or efficient. But it was enough to be happy.

Let’s take the second trip. A weekend work conference in North Dakota where the high was 40°.  Because my coworker and I were flying a discount airline, I had to comply with the 1-carry-on rule for 4 days, including an overnight layover in 80° Las Vegas. My challenge: packing light for both climates. Much to my delight, I succeeded very well, turning my room into a tornado for two hours, but fitting four outfits into a vintage latch suitcase measuring less than the allotted 9” H x 14” W x 22” D. Here are some tips for managing a similar feat…

Step 1: Know your weather. Warmer climates are much easier to pack for, as the fabrics are typically lighter and thinner. Tank tops in lieu of bulky sweaters, sandals instead of boots…you get the idea. Know what you’re getting into.

Step 2: If indeed you are going into the Arctic, consider dressing in multiple thin layers instead of bulky outerwear. This is a lesson I learned in Poland. In the middle of winter, ladies were passing by looking slender and chic…and very warm. Invest in Cuddl Duds brand thermal tanks (found at Ross) to keep your chest and torso warm.

Step 3:  Re-use. I can’t stress this enough! Relax — when you are in a new environment you will see different people, meaning you can wear the same shirt twice without offending the outspoken fashionista. Change the layer touching your skin (another good reason for layering with tanks and spaghetti-straps) but keep the trendy blouses for another day. Scarfs are especially useful. Invest in a neutral black, white, cream, or brown scarf that will go with all chosen outfits. Do as the French, mixing tops with bottoms for a varied flare.

Step 4: Consider skirts and tights/leggings instead of pants. While saving room on bulky (not to mention heavy) jeans and work pants, skirts fold smaller and tights keep you warm.

Step 5: Pack strategically. This is a tip I learned from backpacking. Pack in order of use, placing the first change of clothes (meaning PJ’s) on top, with the following day’s underneath, etc. As you finish wearing your clothes from the current day, pack at the bottom thus moving up your folded closet.

Step 6: Roll your clothes. Depending on the style of the trip, rolling clothes makes for more room. Stuff socks or rolled belts inside shoes, etc. Leave no space unused.

Happy travels!