The holidays are upon us and for many of us, that means travel. And while I can’t help you with traffic or flight delays, I can make one part just a little easier: packing.
I recently returned from two weekend trips, back to back, traveling from New York to North Carolina, from balmy days to wintry snow, all in one pilot case.
Here are a few tips that helped me pack light, yet versatile.
- Layers. No matter how many times you check the forecast before departure, weather is consistently unpredictable. I expected cool temperatures while in New York, and yet on the day of arrival, it was beautiful enough to go jacket free. The easiest way to transition between temperatures (and from day to night, too) is with layers, especially if you pick up basics in a tissue-thin microfiber. One outfit I wore consisted of a tissue-weight V-neck T-shirt over a similarly thin turtleneck in the same color, topped with a colorful cardigan. If it got too warm, I could remove the cardigan and drape it around my shoulders.
- Mix and match. The other beauty of layers is that they form a foundation for mixing and matching. Choose garments in one or two neutral colors, and supplement them with a colorful piece or two–or even an accessory, like a neck scarf. In winter, for example, the same dark mock turtle or long-sleeved T can be worn under a different sweater or jacket every day, and no-one will be the wiser.
- Simplify. Oh, this is the hardest part. Even with a firm itinerary before departure, how tempting it is to bring along an extra outfit or two, “just in case.” But with your set of neutral layers, entire additional outfits shouldn’t be necessary. Just add a skirt here, or a dressier trouser there, and several more ensembles can be conjured from the ingredients. Plus, a single palette for your packable wardrobe makes shoe selection that much easier as well.
- Reduce. The sister to simplification, this step has to do with removing items entirely that don’t have to be packed. Will your hotel have a hair dryer in the room? Do you need every piece of travel makeup? Can you buy a toiletry there and throw it away when you’re done?
And once you’ve cracked the code of your particular packing set, don’t recreate your efforts every time. Jot them down in a printable document so you have a checklist handy for your next trip.
Here are a few other places to visit for great packing tips:
- One Bag. For people who are really serious about traveling light. Also includes great tips about choosing luggage, and sample packing tips.
- Real Simple’s How to Pack a Suitcase. Step by step, with photos.
- Fodor’s Travel Blog. More tips for slimming down your packing.
- Beauty Packing List. A packing list for beauty items, particularly those to carry on board the plane.
Now it’s your turn: what are your best packing tips? What garment do you take on every trip?
[Photo credit: Jetheriot]