Checked baggage fees are ridiculous. The flight cost enough without adding on for every bag you bring. Even when I’m lucky enough to score a flight with no fees (woohoo Southwest!) I often carry on all my luggage anyways- I get out of the airport without waiting at baggage claim, and I never have to worry about a lost bag.

I am a notoriously light packer. I have no qualms about wearing the same thing over and over again, or improvising when I forget something.

However, I don’t always pack light- but I do pack smart.

clothes to pack

Tips for Packing

Plan. Take a minute to think about everything you’ll need on your trip. This seems obvious, but it’s a crucial step. Going to a cocktail party? Need to wear long pants on a tour? Will you be working out on your trip?

Set it all out. Don’t put it straight into your suitcase. Set everything out on a bed or the floor so you can get a visual of everything you’ve chosen.

Organize. Group things together in a way that makes sense to you. Some people like to do “outfits”. I like to do it by type: workout clothes in one pile, pants in another, tops, etc. This prevents you from searching through your suitcase like a crazy person when you try to find something.

Pack in smaller bags/containers. Put smaller items in smaller bags so they’re easier to find. For example, put socks & underwear in a little laundry bag, jewelry in a bag in your toiletries, recharging cords in plastic baggies, etc.

Make it small. The most crucial step in fitting everything into a carry on size bag. You have several options; do what works best for your suitcase/bag shape: roll your clothes, fold into small squares, etc. If you’re really cramped for space try this tip: put your clothes in plastic ziploc bags, then squish all the air out. (Like a space-saver bag- this especially helps keep you organized once you get to your destination.)

Pack in layers. Now it’s time to load your suitcase. Put the clothes you need later in the trip in first. Leave what you’ll need first when you arrive for last so it’s easy to get to. For me, that’s usually my PJs. 🙂 Put all your clothes in, then start putting in bulkier items like toiletries, shoes, etc.

Using these strategies I can cram an awfully lot in a little space. I have enough for 4 days of outfits day & night, plus workout clothes, and a few extras. Plus 3 pairs of shoes, toiletries, multiple electronics, and even have room for random physical therapy stuff. (What, you don’t travel with a PT kit?)

physical therapy stuff

If you’re bringing two carry on bags, pack one so you can put it in overhead storage, and the other so you can keep it with you. (Usually a purse, laptop bag, briefcase, etc.)

Carry on essentials:

Sweater or cover up. Planes are notoriously freezing cold. (I have a sweater and yoga pants packed in my bag since I’m prone to freezing.)

Reading material. Enjoy your down time. Relax. Read. If you insist, do some work. No time like the present!

Headphones. Either for your MP3 player, or to watch an in-flight movie or tv- then you don’t have to pay for crappy airline headphones.

Inflatable pillow/eye cover. Probably not needed for a short flight or one in the middle of the day, but if it’s long or at night, a pillow can help you sneak in a little shuteye before a whirlwind trip.

Snacks. Did you know a lot of airlines don’t even handout peanuts or pretzels anymore? Be prepared. Bring snacks from home or grab a bite at the airport while you’re waiting.

Cash, ID, flight info, directions, etc. Be prepared- the more organized you are, the less stress you’ll have. Then you’ll be able to handle any travel snafu that lands your way.

travel info

Anything else to add?

What’s your worst travel story? I’ve almost missed connecting flights, sat on the runway in a broken plane for 4 hours, and free fell while flying over a hurricane. Been there, done that. 😉