Pack This is the second of 4 blogs focused on helping make your travels easier by offering best practices and products for getting your bags compact, organized and lightweight.
In part 1: Get Organized, we talked about utilizing packing organizers like cubes and folders. Now, what should you pack in those cubes and folders?
Traveling is exciting, but the packing part of traveling might be the most difficult part of the trip for some of us. Hell, I know people who will wait until the last minute, throw a bunch of clothes in the bag, and then hope and pray they packed the right outfits and the bags are not overweight. But if you take your time and carefully pick the right clothes for your trip, you can take the stress out of packing.
Check the weather report
I learned this the hard way during my first trip to South Africa. I figured it was Africa, so it had to be hot, right? I didn’t take a coat or jacket with me and if not for my lovely wife, I would not have taken a pair of jeans (she packs for weather contingencies and harassed me until I packed one pair). Thanks! I didn’t know Africa had a winter (June through August, if you were wondering). Definitely a newbie move. Nothing like being on a safari in 30 degree weather with a fleece on, which was the only thing in my size I could find at the Woolworths in Johannesburg.
No matter when your trip is, in the spring, summer, fall or winter, you should first check the weather report for all destinations on your trip. That way you will know what you need to bring with you. Is it the rainy season in the Amazon, snow falling in the Rocky Mountains, or a heat wave in New York? Do you need a light jacket or heavy coat? Jeans or shorts? Dresses or dress pants? Flip flops or galoshes? Knowing the weather forecast will give you a baseline to choose your wardrobe.
What are your plans?
Are you going backpacking across Europe, staying at a bungalow in Bora Bora, cruising the Mediterranean Sea, or snowboarding in the Swiss Alps? Each of those trips (which, by the way, are on my list except the snowboarding part – it just sounded cool) will require a different wardrobe. Going on a trip where you will be in two different climates is hard to pack for, but not impossible to pull off.
Color coordinate your clothes
I’m not talking Garanimals…well maybe I am. Choose clothing by matching colors to form multiple outfits. Pack a dress shirt, casual shirt, and t-shirt all in the same color palette. Pair that color scheme with jeans, pants or a skirt with a pair of shoes to match and you’re set. In the summer, go with breathable, light fabrics and in the colder months go with heavier fabrics.
Keep it classy
Pack classic pieces like a pair of black pants, a sports jacket or even a pair nice of jeans and for the ladies, a black dress or black skirt. Those pieces pretty much go with anything and can fit in at almost any event. As shoes go, a pair of classic tennis or running shoes can be worn to work out or out casually for drinks. A pair of a classic dress shoes for the guys or a pair of pumps for the ladies, can get you through working, going to dinner or those fancier occasions.
Let’s face it, as long you don’t spill anything on your clothes, you can wear most of your clothes more than one time on a trip. But don’t wear them the next day, that’s just tacky. Bottoms like jeans, shorts, dress pants and skirts can be paired with different shirts and tops for a new outfit. You usually can get away with taking one pair of jeans and one pair of dress pants or a skirt for up to 5 days. This does not go for underwear. There’s no wearing them again or turning them inside out. I’d go commando before I’d do that.
Do you have access to laundry facilities
If you’re going on a long 7+ day trip and you’re staying somewhere that has laundry facilities, either self-serve or a dry-cleaning service, utilize those services to pack less. That way you can pack for 4 days and wash clothes on the third day to get you through the rest of the trip. Trust me, I understand if you don’t want to be bothered. It’s just a thought.
Fast rules for amount of clothes
Here are my general rules:
• Underwear for every day of the trip, that’s a no brainer.
• 1 shirt/top for every day you’re gone. Travel days don’t count because you will travel with what you are wearing on those days. So, 7-day trip means 6 shirts/tops.
• No more than 2-3 pairs of pants, period! Shorts don’t count because they don’t take up much room, but no more than 2 pair.
• 1 pair of tennis shoes and 1 pair of dress shoes.
• Coats or jackets, if needed, can be worn on the plane if space is an issue You can always take them off.
• 1 pair of workout shorts/tights and 1 workout shirt, if you are so inclined.
So, for example…
Say you’re going on a business trip and you also have friends in the area of the trip. Plan your schedule where you stay over the weekend once your business is done on Friday. (By the way, I think all business trips should have time for personal time built in as long as your company allows it.) A 5-day trip, 3 days of business and 2 days to chill with friends. Hopefully, you‘re traveling in the day before your business starts. Wear one of your casual outfits – jeans, shirt and pair of tennis shoes. Bring 3 business shirts/tops and 1 suit or 1 pants/skirt and you’re covered for the business side. For those 2 free days with friends, those same jeans you traveled in, a couple shirts and the tennis shoes should be enough to finish your trip.
The main idea is to have enough clothes to do what you need to do with as little baggage as possible. These tips will keep your carry-on ready.
Now that we have you organized and know what to pack, in part 3 we’ll tackle the issue of rolling versus folding – which is better?
We’d love to hear some of your funny wardrobe packing stories! Leave a comment or question below.