How to pack like a pro

By on March 12, 2013

packingBy: Danielle Todd

While I’m not part of the jet set, I do travel quite a bit. One thing I’ve learned, as I’ve become a more experienced traveller is that I don’t need as much as once thought while I’m on the road. A few years ago, I challenged myself to pack only a carry-on suitcase for an 8-day vacation in Europe. It turned out, I had everything I needed in that one little bag. I haven’t checked luggage since.

There are a lot of reasons to pack light these days, especially when it comes to air travel. Bringing only carry-on luggage can offer cost savings with airlines that now charge for checked baggage. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the airline losing or misplacing your luggage. This has happened to me more times than I can count on one hand, and reminds me of another packing tip: never leave your car keys in your checked bag!

Then, there’s the convenience of checking in for flights online and avoiding the wait at the luggage claim. Every second is precious when you are on vacation.

Finally, there is an environmental factor. Every extra pound on a plane means a little more fuel. It’s not much, but if everyone brought a little less it makes a difference.

Start early
I always set everything I need at least a week before I travel. In the days leading up to my trip, I start weeding out the things I don’t really need, (which tends to be a lot) and adding items
I’ve  forgotten.

Mix + match
Bring universal separates in a simple colour scheme. Every item of clothing you bring should make at least two outfits. If something gets dirty, you can always rinse and hang it to dry at your destination.

Also, consider layers instead of bulky pieces. Tunics, lightweight cardigans, and leggings are great for travel. They’re comfortable, stylish, and take up very little space in a suitcase. Pack a few colourful printed scarves to add some interest and variety to your travel wardrobe. Also, a wrinkle free shift dress in neutral shade can be dressed up or down. Personally, I find a simple little black dress, made with a polyester blend, indispensable for any vacation.

Although it depends on the nature of your trip, you should only need 2-3 pairs of shoes: a comfortable pair for walking, a pair of dress shoes or sandals, and a pair of flip-flops for the pool.

Go lowmaintenance
If possible, leave your hair-dryer at home. Most hotels have them either in the rooms or available for loan. You can always contact the property ahead of time to confirm.

To save space and avoid the fickle TSA rules, don’t pack any personal care products you can get at your destination. Most hotels in North America will offer soap, shampoo and conditioner. In fact, I’m finding many hotels offer products far better than I the brands I buy at home, including Aveda and Bliss. Even some of the budget brand hotels now have quality complimentary toiletries.

If you’re staying with friends or family you can purchase these items when you arrive. Buy something nice, and leave it for your hosts to enjoy after you’ve returned home.

Pack tight
The first step is finding the perfect bag. I recommend an upright, 20 inch, hard shell suitcase with wheels. Then, to get the most out of the available space, there are plenty of space saving packing cubes and compression bags available. I find any large zip locking bags work just as well as anything you’ll find in a luggage store. Vacuum packing your clothes is great for organization and create a lot of extra space.

With a little forethought and strategy, you can easily get away without the burden of dragging your closet dragging behind you.  Plus, with less packed in your suitcase, you’ll have more reason to shop.

Bon voyage!  













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