Packing Tips From the Pros
If you have to sit on your suitcase to zip it, well, there really is a better way. Just follow this three-step plan on what to bring, how to fold, and where to (phew!) fit it all in.
Getting ready for a trip can feel like a game of Tetris, in which you’re figuring out how to fit everything while frantically
planning for each possible scenario. “When traveling, people become fearful of going into the unknown and use clothes as a
security blanket,” says Cary Cooper, a professor of psychology at Lancaster University, in England. “But all those what-ifs
only lead to overpacking.” (And even more stress.) Here’s a surefire way to eliminate the agita.
Decide what you’re taking. And, just as important, what you’re not. These streamlining guidelines will help, whether you’re bound for a beach or a boardroom.
Follow a simple formula. Pack three tops for every bottom. Generally, pants and skirts take up more room than shirts, and when you wear them multiple times, no one is the wiser, says Justin Klosky, the founder of the Los Angeles–based organizational-consulting company O.C.D. Experience. A weeklong trip, he says, shouldn’t require more than six tops, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one dress, and three bras. “Choose staples you feel most confident in so that you’ll be less inclined to bring alternatives,” says Lesley Grosvenor, a cofounder of Clothes Up Style, a wardrobe-advising service in Los Angeles. Then, for a handy reminder about all the other stuff you’ll need, from floss to batteries, print the vacation-essentials checklist at realsimple.com/packingchecklist.
Stick to a color scheme. “Start with two neutrals for your core basics and add two to three fun shades that coordinate,” advises Alan Krantzler, the senior vice president of brand management at Tumi, a travel brand. A dark palette hides stains and easily sails from day to night. If that feels too uptight for your jaunt to Margaritaville, try a breezy mix of white, navy, red, teal, and pale yellow. Or “plan your wardrobe around one shoe color,” says Judith Gilford, the author of The Packing Book ($15, amazon.com). You need only three pairs—sneakers, flats or sandals, and heels or wedges.
Be a lightweight. Not all clothes are worth their weight. Leave behind pieces with bulky linings or heavy embellishments. Think thin and opt for pants made of polyester-rayon or acetate-spandex. Also, stretchy jeans or jeggings can take up half the space of regular denim. Control temperature with layers, says Heather Poole, a flight attendant and the author of Cruising Attitude ($15, amazon.com). She piles on tees, tanks, and cashmere cardigans instead of bringing thick sweaters or a hefty jacket. (If you’re traveling somewhere cold, keep reading for a clever tip on transporting a down coat.)