10 Rules of Packing Minimally And Efficiently to Travel Anywhere
1. MAKE A LIST WITH CATEGORIES
Make a list of what you want to pack so that you can see all at once what you plan on bringing, review it and eliminate the unnecessary.
These are the categories I use:
- Travel Accessories
- Event-Specific Items
Write down everything you want to bring, then review & eliminate items.
Check out my posts on what I have packed & what it all looks like.
2. NEVER CHECK ANYTHING IN
I never, EVER check anything in unless I can help it. I only bring a carry-on bag, and a purse.
If you start thinking that you can check in bags, you tend to overpack.
I hate waiting at the luggage carousel, hoping it was not lost and/or everything smashed inside.
3. BRING TRAVEL-SIZED ITEMS AND KEEP IT MINIMAL
Little travel toiletries, the smallest electronic you have that will do the job, mini brushes..
Buy and carry everything travel-sized.
4. KEEP ALL ELECTRONICS & LIQUIDS (INTO 1 QUART-SIZED BAG) TO BE ACCESSED WITHIN EASY REACH
I usually keep all my cables, cords and electronics in my purse, and the liquids are in 1 quart-sized bag that I put in the FRONT pocket of my carry-on luggage.
That way, I can access my iPod Touch (let’s say) easily when I am waiting to board, and to get through the security check-in, I just have to open the front pocket of the carry-on suitcase and toss it into the bin for inspection.
If you put all these items in your actual carry-on suitcase, you will have to hunt for the items when you’re waiting to board, or on the actual plane itself.
There is nothing more annoying than realizing you left your headphones INSIDE your suitcase, and you need to try and pull it down, unzip it, and grab it in stuck in the midst of all your clothing while the plane is flying & shaking, and people are seated, feeling annoyed that you’re doing this..
5. WEAR SLIP ON/OFF SHOES FOR THE PLANE AND PACK SOCKS
Loafers, ballet flats, anything STURDY as a pair of shoes because in the event of the plane having to land in an emergency somewhere in the middle of nowhere, you want to be sure that you are not barefoot on tarmac because your flimsy flip flops fell off.
Save those for the beach.
I prefer loafers for the plane only because I can wear them, then whip out a pair of wool socks to wear over my toes, and STILL be able to fit my feet into loafers and walk around if I need to go up the aisle to the bathroom.
Ballet flats don’t let you do this, they’re too fitted to your foot.
I hate laces, and velcro is all right in sneakers for instance.
These shoes ideally will also be the heaviest pair you are bringing, so pack those flip flops, and wear your actual shoes.
6. ASK YOURSELF IF YOUR ITEMS CAN DO DOUBLE-DUTY
Here are some ideas:
Cashmere travel wrap that is a blanket / scarf / jacket
A packing organizer for the suitcase that you can pull out and just hang in the closet
A jacket that is your purse because it has all these great pockets
RFID blocking purses or wallets so that they can’t snatch your credit card info by tapping against your bag
7. REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS WASH THINGS BY HAND
You don’t need to pack so much if you remember that you can do laundry and you can also wash items in the sink by hand with a little soap (hand soap will work, or even shampoo).
Do not freak out that you only have 2 shirts, you can wear one, wash one at night, and let it air dry so you can wear it tomorrow.
8. WEAR YOUR HEAVIEST ITEMS ON THE PLANE SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO CARRY IT
I used to pack hiking boots because I would walk 16 hours a day when I traveled, and those things are HEAVY.
I always wore them on the plane, even though it broke my rule that I should only wear slip-on shoes on the plane, only because they were so heavy. They were also finicky with the laces…
Now, I don’t bother with them as we can’t walk 16 hours a day any longer with a child, and I bring my washable loafers instead, pictured below:
9. PACK AN EXTRA (LIGHT) BAG
I like carrying spare bags that are easy to pack and roll away for a fast way to carry a lunch and a water bottle (both of which will be consumed), so that you still have 2 hands free to do things.
A reusable bag (any) works, even a plastic bag, but I tend to always prefer to bring something super sturdy that can also be a purse, namely my Longchamp Pliage:
It is chic, stylish, folds up nicely, has long sturdy handles for the shoulder and is a great spare bag to toss things in for a short period of time, or just to use when traveling.
Plus, it’s an actual PURSE.
10. ASK YOURSELF: WILL I USE THIS EVERYDAY?
This is the hardest part: eliminating unnecessary items.
If you think you need 2 pairs of heels, think again. Just bring ONE dress and ONE pair of heels, and be done with it. Or try and bring a dress you can wear with anything (not just heels), and put a jacket over for a different look.
At the end of every trip, I bring all my items home, and review what I used and what I didn’t, then I review my packing list, and eliminate it, or make a note about how I didn’t use it the last time.
A few things that I’ve eliminated over the years:
- My own pillow (I just roll up my cashmere blanket to sleep on it if I feel unsure about hotel pillows)
- My own cup, cutlery, and plates (I’ve sucked it up and just use what is there)
- Laundry detergent (I use shampoo to wash my items in a pinch instead)