Whether you are taking a night trip or making it a week-long event, one of the biggest downfalls of travel often arrives before you leave. Luckily there are certain guidelines and tricks to make packing convenient so you can look and feel your best even when you’re a thousand miles from the comfort of home.
Manage your space
Professional organizer Lisa Trigsted from Neat Freak McKinney lent her expert advice on how to best approach packing.
“The overall picture is less is more when you’re traveling,” Trigstead, who recommends rolling clothing in order to maximize space and minimize wrinkling, says. “I like to pack in layers, with solid colors, because you can mix and match better.”
Trigsted says it’s best to have a travel outfit to wear both to and from the airport to save room. Printed out packing lists, which she said you can find on websites such as Pinterest, also make it easier to avoid the perils of over-packing.
Vickie White with Vickie White Travel is another seasoned local packer, performing packing seminars in cities such as Sherman while she has served as a travel agent over the last four decades.
“I don’t even open my closet door until I’ve made a list,” White says of how to avoid over-packing. “Once I list my clothes, then I pull them from the closet.”
Meanwhile Terri Cox, with Organized By Terri in Frisco, suggests a travel notebook to keep travelers coordinated.
”Include travel agent phone numbers, hotel information, airlines and frequent flyer numbers and agencies for car rentals and itineraries,” Cox says. “Make copies of information that is pertinent to your trip from travel magazines and guidebooks — instead of the whole book. Keep the papers together in a pouch, so it’s organized and easy to retrieve fitting flat inside your suitcase.”
Any seasoned packer knows that one of the greatest difficulties arrives when it comes to fitting in shoes.
Trigsted stresses the importance of not over-packing shoes, which take up lots of room, emphasizing the value of cute tennis shoes that can be dressed up or down to complement any room. In order to maximize space, the space inside shoes can be used to store underwear and socks. This also prevents shoes from losing their shape in the suitcase.
Lisa Williams from Simplicity Professional Organizing in Melissa says to avoid checking bags when traveling internationally, as it will only add to travel time.
Another general tip White recommends for families is putting one outfit from each person in someone else’s luggage. That way, if someone’s luggage gets lost, the person at least has one outfit to wear. Utilize aids
Even if you consider yourself a packing pro, there are purchases you can make to maximize clothes preservation.
Trigsted says that a tool called “Tighty Snaps,” which are like slap on bracelets, secure together rolls of clothing.
“For kids, I would use those to do outfits,” Trigsted says. “I would roll a shirt and a pant together to match.”
Another suggestion for packing children’s clothing, according to Trigsted, is to use Ziplock baggies with air pushed out of them and days of the week labeled on them. By sectioning off the kid’s clothes through one of these methods, children can dress themselves quickly.
“It makes your life easier when you’re on vacation,” Trigsted advises.
Vacuum seal bags are available at locations such as Bag’n Baggage in Dallas, making packing easier. Packing devices also exist without vacuum seals, requiring the user to just squeeze out the air and close the top. Trigsted said you simply have to lay down on the bags in order to use them, while the absence of air prevents wrinkling. This method of sealing clothes also makes it easy to repack items when it’s time to head back home.
Storing items properly is also important.
“Definitely use travel size bottles for liquids — add to your quart size plastic bag and keep in in your backpack for easy access during the security shuffle. Which items can the two of you share?” Williams asks for traveling couples. “Husbands usually have more space available in their Ziplock to share with you. Don’t forget the hotel has endless supplies of shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap.”
Preserve your attire
Many trips involve nights out, and some are centered around them. In order to look your best while living out of a bag, there are precautions to prevent wrinkling.
“You can’t roll those very well,” Trigsted says of evening dresses, advising using a method of air removal to best preserve fine attire that cannot be hung in a garment bag.
“With all the new micro-fiber fabrics that they have now, it’s really easy to look nice when you’re traveling,” White says. “You don’t have to take an iron or worry about anything, because there’s good fabrics out there now.”
White recommends packing micro-fibers and knits, which she consider to be “more forgiving” fabrics that fold easily and don’t wrinkle. She utilizes a process called “jet packing” for nicer clothes, such as business trip attire. This involves her laying pants out flat and alternating tops and bottoms, while buttoning and laying shirts with the arms out and stacking them. Then she folds all arms in flat, aiming for all the clothing fabric to take up the air space.
“It will look really nice when you get there,” White says of clothing packed with this method. “You can just take it out and shake it, even if it’s just a cotton shirt.”
While it is always important to leave a little room for new purchases, White advised to fill up space.
Though you can certainly check as many bags as needed, many travelers prefer not to be burdened down by too much luggage. Checking bags also runs the risk of theft and damage, making it important to be able to mix and match outfits from a single bag to look chic on the go.
“I always pack a scarf or pashmina,” Trigsted says. “It’s something to wear in the airport if it’s cold or on the airplane if it’s cold, but it can also be used if you don’t want to take a big, heavy coat.”
Trigsted said to always remember the four ounce rule when it comes to toiletries, while picking up a travel pill case greatly eliminates space. For checked bags, she recommends bringing a smaller purse to store inside of a carry-on.
She recommends duffle bags, brief cases and backpacks for males. Carry-ons should always include the essentials if you are checking your bags — such as toiletries, medications and a change of clothes. Things that can be better left at home are blow dryers, since they can always be found at hotels along with irons.
By packing outfits that mix and match, less clothes will be needed to make different looks. Trigsted emphasizes focusing on versatility, while White tries to use only two colors schemes in order to maximize possibilities to mix outfits.
“I always take a bunch of scarves,” White says. “If you have on a pair of black pants and a black top, black sweater or black T-shirt and you put a scarf with it, you can go anywhere in the world, any restaurant with that outfit.”
Some may balk at the limited clothing options, but versatile pieces — such as black jeans and solid colors — pair well with a variety of accessories and tops to create a number of versatile looks without taking up too much space.
“Texas women dress so beautifully. So we tend to think we have to have all the stuff when we travel, but you really don’t,” White says. “Your trip is not really defined by what you’re wearing. You just need to make sure that you have comfortable clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather.”