Read this guide to master the art of packing for any trip.
What to Pack for a Vacation
Traveling with just a carry-on is immensely freeing (no waiting around for your luggage—or worrying that it’ll be lost and never found). Of course, less real estate means you have to be uber-selective about what you bring. First, check the forecast of your final destination, then consider what clothing would be weather-appropriate. Assuming you’ve already accounted for boxer briefs and undershirts, here’s a list of the basics:
1. A Well-Fitting Blazer
Why pack a blazer? Blazers are insanely versatile. Aside from keeping you warm in air-conditioned restaurants or outdoor cafes, a blazer can be the perfect piece to really pull your look together.
There are many different styles to choose from, so find the one that speaks to you and make sure it fits! Too tight and you won’t be able to layer a shirt or sweater (or both) under it. Too loose and you lose the more buttoned-up look you’re after.
Color is also an important consideration. Decide what colors will go best with the wardrobe you’re bringing. Gray and navy are the safest bets and the most versatile, while brown and tan are a bit more casual.
If you bring just one pair of pants, make it a pair of jeans in a versatile dark wash. (Leave your favorite ripped, torn, distressed, or otherwise well-loved pair at home). Jeans can be worn in almost any situation. Dress them up with a blazer and button down; dress them down with a white tee.
3. Performance Wear
With the advent of stylish workout wear in fabrics that breathe well, wick moisture from your skin and dry quickly, there’s no reason not to pack a few pieces, especially if you plan to hike, bike, or hit the gym during your trip (or simply want to walk around town). T-shirts, shorts, and socks that you can easily wash and hang to air dry are ideal. If you don’t have time to wash them before moving on to your next destination, be sure to pack a few ziplock bags to put them in.
4. Comfortable Shoes
Because shoes take up major suitcase space, less is more. Limit yourself to a stylish walking sneaker, a leather loafer and your gym shoes (if you’re really planning on hitting the gym). If you’re headed to a beach destination, flip flops or boat shoes are a good choice. As far as color, think versatility. Bring shoes that are neutral and can be easily dressed up or down.
5. Staple Pieces
Again, the key is versatility. Be sure to include button-down shirts, polos and tees that you can mix and match for casual and more formal occasions. Not sure about color? Start with a neutral base color, like black or gray, and build the rest of your wardrobe around that. With a little creativity, you should be able to create many outfits of just a few pieces.
To Roll Or Not To Roll, That Is The Ultimate Packing Question
There are those who swear by folding and those who promise rolling clothing is, well, the only way to roll. There are pros and cons to both.
We love this method. Take it from us: when rolling, rubber bands can be your best friend. Use them around heavy items, like a jacket, to ensure the item stays rolled.
This is the more traditional approach. But it can be a total space-waster if items aren’t organized well. It works best for pieces that are supposed to be folded along the creases, like jeans or pants. A blazer would benefit by being folded to maintain its shape.
What To Wear To The Airport
Save space by wearing your bulkiest items while you travel, like boots, chunky sweaters and an overcoat. Planes are notoriously chilly, so you may need your layers to stay toasty in-flight, but—most importantly—this saves you room in your bag. Besides, you can always drape it all over your seat if needed.
If you travel frequently, invest in a suitcase or weekender bag with a separate compartment for shoes. For now, store your sneakers inside a reusable string-fabric bag or plastic dry cleaner garment bag to prevent dirtying your clothes.
10 More Space-Saving Travel Tips
Now, let’s get advanced. These 10 brilliant hacks will change the way you pack—prepare to have your mind blown.
1. CHAMPION YOUR BELT
Your belt does more than simply hold up your pants. Use it to keep shirt collars crisp by coiling it around them.
2. DOUBLE THE PERFORMANCE
Have access to a washer and dryer during your trip? Plan on wearing the same outfit more than once, and give it a rinse in between.
3. DITCH THE STINK & STATIC
You may’ve had the misfortune of the seat next to the restroom, but the memory need not linger the rest of your trip. Throw a dryer sheet (or two) into your bag to kill travel odors and reduce static.
4. TRY THIS TIP—IT’S THE BALM
Don’t fall prey to pickpockets targeting holiday bustle. Keep emergency cash handy (and hidden) by rolling it up inside of an emptied lipbalm stick.
5. NEVER BE IN A BIND
Put those binder clips you “borrowed” from your office’s supply closet to good use by placing them over your razor to protect the blade. Or use a few to keep the cords for your electronics neat and tidy!
6. MAKE IT POP
Besides being a source of entertainment, bubble wrap can come in handy to protect souvenirs—most importantly, beer and wine. (They’re gifts, OK?) Roll them up and secure the wrap with rubber bands.
7. RAID YOUR KITCHEN CABINET
Grab unused straws from your kitchen and fill them with portion-sized shampoo & conditioner. Snip the straw in half, fill it with shampoo, then pinch the ends with tweezers you’ve heated up with a lighter to seal.
8. HAVE COMMON SCENTS
You know those mini cologne samples you find in fashion mags? They’re called fragrance vial-on-cards in the beauty business, or VOCs for short. Bring along a nice variety to spice things up.
9. DON’T RISK SPILLS
Next to lost luggage, opening a bag to find toothpaste gone wild is a traveler’s worst nightmare. To prevent bottles from bursting, cut a small square of of plastic wrap, place it under the lid, then screw it back on tight. Voila!
10. CHUG, CHUG ALONG
Phew, you made it this far. Now it’s time for a reward. Stash a mini whiskey bottle, an orange peel, some cloves and a cinnamon stick in a plastic baggy, then mix them all into hot water when the beverage cart comes around. An instant hot toddy to get you ready for the holiday rush.
Need help packing your suitcase for wherever you’re off to? Our personal stylists are standing by to get you there and back in one piece (or several). Go ahead, get a Fix.