Imagine the scenario: You are fielding work e-mails, kid bed times and laundry, and you’re trying to get a few hours of shut-eye before catching your morning flight to a conference. But what you really need to do is pack.
When life gets in the way, it can be challenging and overwhelming to focus on what you may or may not need for travel — whether business or leisure related — and you end up over-packing, under-packing, weather-inappropriate packing or forgetting something silly yet essential, like your skirt suit or bathing suit.
We’ve been there, and it’s no fun. So, we’ve got you, girl. We spoke with Boston-based stylist, personal shopper and packing guru Ali Ehrlich about how to pack easily and lightly for your next trip.
Tip 1: Choose A Bag Wisely
Elrich says the number one bad-packing habit that she sees is over-packing. Do you really need three semi-formal dresses for a beach vacation? How about those two pairs of gym sneakers? Combat this impulse by starting with a small carry-on suitcase. If you only have so much room to pack, you’ll be forced to trim the sartorial fat.
“For me, wheels are the only way to go these days,” she says. “I have too many aches and pains the older I get. I would recommend getting [a bag] with four moveable, 360-degree wheels. They don’t topple over and are so much easier to navigate.”
Tip 2: Plan Ahead
To avoid that last minute packing crunch, have some essentials ready to go at all times.
“I always like to keep my toiletries and cosmetics packed. It makes it so much easier to have the travel sizes of all that you need ready to go at any time,” says Elrich.
That means one less trip to Target to pick up 3-ounce shampoos and one less tedious task on your packing list. The same strategy could be applied to electronic chargers and over the counter medicines.
Tip 3: Wear Clothing More Than Once
It’s OK to wear clothes more than once while away — most of us do at home. It’s a good idea to pack neutrals, i.e. if you wear same pair of black pants two days in a row, no one will likely notice, but if you brought a bold floral print skirt, they’d definitely notice.
Also, you’ll need less bottoms than tops.
“Invariably, people tend to throw a million things in the suitcase and forget what was even put in there,” says Elrich. “Plan out what you want to wear while away and remember you can wear blue jeans or black bottoms multiple times.”
Tip 4: Establish a Packing System
There are lots of packing trends like rolling your clothes army style or using cubes to pack separate types of clothing. Find a system that works for you and stick with it.
“My sister always teases me that I’m like one of those Russian nesting dolls that always travels with a bag inside a bag inside a bag,” says Elrich.“I use a bag for my lingerie. I definitely use a bag for shoes — it’s much more sanitary to have them self contained — a bag for all of my electronics, etcetera.”
“Also, when packing anything that may wrinkle, I fold the item with a recycled dry cleaning plastic bag to minimize wrinkling — it helps!”