Pack Like the Pros for the Easiest Trip Ever

Sarah Jessica Parker airportWe've heard it before, we've even said it to defend our need to overpack: a girl has to have options. But these days, a girl has tight airport security to think about as well as steep fees for checking baggage. Some airlines have started charging for your carry-on too. Outrageous. Like no time before, it pays to be a savvy packer. Besides, who wants to be stuck upstairs in the guest room figuring out what to wear when they could be spending precious time with friends and family? There's a way to strategize your packing (fairly quickly and easily) so you can get the most out of your long weekend and spend less time unpacking. 

Map It Out: Take out your favorite pencil and notepad and make an outline for your packing: jot down the activities you're likely to do on your trip, as well as the predicted weather. Be realistic about how much you need based on how long your stay is. If it's a long weekend, versatility is key. Mix-and-match neutrals with a couple of accent pieces thrown in will be the ticket. It's also likely that wearing the exact same look more than once isn't going to warrant a visit from the fashion police. Your family will doubtfully notice. Try to make a list of pieces after you read this article to keep things simple.

Keep it Neutral: When it comes time to pick your wardrobe, neutrality is king. There should only be one standout piece (such as a cocktail dress, printed jeans, etc.) in the whole lot. The rest should be the black, white, cream, navy versions of your most loved go-tos. Long sleeved T-shirt, cardigan, wool sweater, and jeans should be in basic colors. Always consider something wrinkle-resistant before you throw in that pure silk number. Cotton is your best friend.

How To Pack: There are a lot of theories on the bast way to pack it all into a small space. You're supposed to layer heavy things on the bottom and lighter things on top and throw in a good luck charm right in the center and then put your toiletries in a secret hidden location you've sewn in the bottom — or something like that. Here's a simple strategy: simply roll wrinkle-resistant items (jeans, socks, undies, bras, Ts, sweaters) into tubes after you fold them in half. File them in the suitcase like you would files in a drawer. The remaining empty space on the bottom works to stack items that may wrinkle. Keep it flat and wrap in plastic wrap to preserve. Another trick for those wrinkly items: fold them inside out so the most obvious wrinkles won't be seen when worn. If you have corners free, this is a good place for shoes. You shouldn't need more than four pairs. Don't forget, you have an outfit to wear during your commute. Some extra basic pieces can be worn to the airport.

Pour your necessary beauty products into sample size containers you buy at the drug store. Put them in outside pockets or inside plastic bags. Do the same for your jewelry, if you don't have a jewelry roll. If you can afford one before your trip, pick one up. Got belts? Outline the edge of your suitcase in them, so they keep their shape.

What to Bring: We wouldn't leave you without some suggestions for what you should be taking with you, in a broad sense. Use this list to build, add, or subtract from what you've got in mind already.

  • Appropriate outerwear. This depends on where you're going. If you're headed to Florida, it might be a denim jacket. If you're headed to Minnesota, you'll need the full monty of coat, hat, gloves, scarf. Your sturdiest pair of flat shoes (like your Frye motorcycle boots).
  • Layering pieces. This can't be overstated, a couple of V-neck Ts, a boyfriend cardigan, your best pair of leggings or ponte knit pants are perfect sit-around-the-house fare. Add a lightweight blazer to the mix, a bit of makeup and jewelry, you've got your perfect brunch outfit!
  • Nighttime look. Again, this depends on where you are. No need to bring a cocktail dress if you're headed out to Ruby Tuesday's for drinks with old friends. That doesn't mean you can't look nice. Perhaps a day dress with tights and heeled booties would do the trick. If so, pack it. Chiffon dresses and their slips tend to fold up nice and small. You may be able to fit in more than one.
  • Your favorite pair of jeans. Think about it, that's really all you need for denim. They can be worn a few times in between washes (and what else is mom's laundry room for?). You feel good in them and they're worn in. Wear them with whatever you want.
  • Appropriate jewelry. Pack one statement peace for each body part. One necklace, one pair of earrings, one ring, one bracelet. Wear your everyday baubles on the plane.
  • The right makeup. Keep it natural while at home. Even if you have an upscale dinner to attend, you'll likely be around those who want to see your natural beauty shine. Just your basic items are necessary.
  • The right shoes. Keep your sky-high stripper shoes at home. If you think the events can be attended in ballet flats and chelsea boots, go for it. Why compromise your comfort when you're at home to enjoy yourself?
  • Extras. On the plane, bring a nice big tote bag to fill with your tablet, e-reader, book, magazines, your sweet and savory snacks (I like Chex Mix and chocolate), a little body spray, and a shawl that can double as a blanket. Don't forget earphones, chargers, house keys, and gifts you need to bring. Don't forget your phone!