Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere // Packing A Checked Bag

A post a lot of people have been asking about are packing tips! To be honest, this was a lot harder to put together than I thought! Unfortunately there is no magic suitcase that allows you to bring your life with you all for the low, low weight of 35 pounds. Maybe one day when we all get into Hogwarts, right? I'm gonna go through a few things that have helped me and I've learned along the way as well as include a few travel-savvy friends and their number one packing tip. Even though it looks long and intensive, I'm gonna include my travel packing list of everything I usually bring so you can get some idea of what all goes into that precious cargo. This edition will focus on checked luggage. Note: I haven't mastered the art of packing carry on only and I don't think I ever will, I'll explain why more below.

1. Choose Your Luggage With Care
Everything I brought with me on my last trip.

I have been through a few different types of suitcases and I think I finally found the one that works for me. For Christmas I asked for a hard case luggage and I think it was the best investment ever. Granted, I  have friends that swear by soft case but I no longer am one of them. I love my hard case suitcase with it's double sides to fill. I have a 24 inch Dockers Hard Case Spinner in a gunmetal blue color, now it's only available in green but I digress. I found this to be the perfect size for me to bring what I needed and have room, and weight, to spare. One side zips completely on the inside as to not cause strife the you open it, it also expands an extra 2 inches if you need  the room. Also keep in mind where you're going. I used a rolling duffel bag when I went to Africa and South America (legit $25 at Target and it was amazing). It seemed silly to bring a nice suitcase to Africa for obvious reasons (which turned out to be accurate because my flight there my bag got slashed where the handle came out of. Didn't damage the bag's function but still annoying) and I knew I'd be flying around a lot and camping in South America. A rolling duffel bag I didn't really care what happened to it was perfect for those trips. And it was surprisingly spacious! Extra compartment on the bottom to keep a few things separate, I love that duffel hard. Next time I go to Africa that thing is coming with me. Best investment ever.

2. Roll Everything and Let Your Jeans and Pants Cocoon Your Other Clothes
There is an old wives tale that says rolling doesn't matter and I would slap my glove at them. I save so much room rolling everything except jeans, jackets, and sweaters. A tank top or tee or cotton shirt rolls up to almost nothing and takes up almost no room. It's magical. If you don't do this, just try it next time. A tip I saw on a packing video having to do with jeans was amazing. I haven't tried this myself yet but I can't wait to do it. What they said to do was place jeans half in suitcase with legs hanging out of them. Roll everything in the middle and fold up legs of jeans to cocoon the clothes. Rolling or folding jeans takes up a lot of space and this just looked like magic. Can't wait to try it myself! Tip: As for the rest of the misc packing essentials, I put toiletries and make up bag on top of my clothes and shoes are lined around the inside of suitcase.

3. Less is More
I've read articles that say lay out everything you want to pack then eliminate half. I would like to disagree with this completely but I've seen how my sisters pack and they should live by this rule. Depending on how ostentatiously you pack on the first go, you might need to do this. I, however, am pretty good at *thinking* what I want to bring and once it's all laid out I can see I don't need 7 t-shirts but hey, I only brought one long sleeve shirt. Be as conservative as you can be and remember how many days you're actually traveling and how unlikely it is you really will wear everything you bring. Long weekend? 8 tank tops aren't necessary but a pair of jeans in case it's cool might be worth throwing in.
Round 1 pre-packing. Don't be this person. This person is me.
I actually love packing for extended trips rather than weekend getaways because I can justify everything I bring. Gone for 4 weeks? Yes, I'm going to throw in that extra pair of pants of shirt because I'll probably find a way to wear it. I despise packing for 2-3 days away because you need a little bit of everything if the weather shits on you when you know you won't need everything you pack. It's irritating as all hell to me.

4. Have a Vice if You Need To
With everything that was said above, have a clothing vice if you need to. What I mean by this is if there is a type of clothing you love and know you will wear even if it takes up a little extra room then do it. For me, it's jackets. I love my leather jackets and while I only need one, I will most likely pack 2-3 including a blazer of some sort. To me, it instantly changes an outfit from plain to fabulous. And if the weather is chilly, you're going to be always wearing a jacket of some sort so you might as well have variety. This is clearly how I justify it to myself but I have no shame. Jackets take up a lot of room but it is the one clothing vice I allow myself. And maybe boots. I always have 2 pairs of boots because comfort and chic. Everybody has their thing and this is mine. Whatever yours is don't be afraid to bring what you love and are comfortable in. Which leads me to my last point...

5. Be You
My one and only 'Don't' I tell people when packing is do NOT buy new clothes for a trip. I mean, okay, maybe you realize you need to replace a pair of leggings or want a new tank top, totally fine.  A guy friend of mine was going to Europe with his girlfriend for the first time and told me she was shopping for all new clothes and I'm like "Nooooo!" Do not do this. Why? Because what if those clothes aren't as comfortable when you get to them or they don't fit as well as you thought? Traveling is the art of organized chaos and with so many things out of your control while you travel, what you pack and wear is the one thing you have in your control and it should be somewhat of a comfort. Pack clothes that you know you love and wear at home that will make you feel confident and ready to take on the busy day ahead. A few new items here or there is obviously okay but to buy a whole new wardrobe for a trip is not a good idea. And don't even make me tell you not to buy new shoes prior to a trip. Breaking in new shoes on a trip is a great idea...said no one ever.

Okay. Now to give you a bit more of a visual here is what I usually write out for myself as a skeleton packing list. I usually add in a few more tanks and tees and shirts when I see how much room I have.

6. Ask for Advice
After a few trial and errors on what you actually need, I have found that everyone has different things they find important. I love asking people what their favorite tips or tricks are and have adopted more than a few pieces of advice given to me over the years. You don't have to take everyone's advice as gospel, of course, you'll figure out what works best for you. I asked a few travel savvy friends to impart their number one piece of packing advice.

Steph from No BS Book Reviews--"You can never have too much underwear. And try on all your clothes before you pack them."

Rachel from hello, chelly--"When I'm packing for a trip, my main focus is on not overpacking. To do that I try to plan out my outfits for each day ahead of time (I realize this is harder for longer trips!) so I'm only bringing exactly what I need. But once I've selected the clothes, I lay them all out on my bed for final approval, maybe add one or two backup tops just in case and I'm good to go."

Alexa from Alexa Loves Books--"Of all the packing tips I could offer anyone, this is my favorite: use packing cubes. It makes for a well-organized suitcase, and it's easy to find exactly what you're looking for - whether it may be underwear or dresses or that pair of jeans. Plus, you don't have to mess up your entire suitcase when you're rifling through it! I generally use 3-4 packing cubes, depending on how long the trip is going to be. (Alternatively, you can use Ziplocs. I always pack extra Ziplocs just in case I need to separate more stuff at some point in my trip.)"

Ksenia, Publicist at Tor Books--"Pack light. I know, that sounds so generic and not enlightening at all. But, depending on where you're going, this could be a good thing! Just think of it this way: whatever you *might* end up needing, you could probably get at your destination anyway. Toiletries getting unruly? Get some of the stuff you need when you land. Also, if you're heading out on a vacation that involves Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, packing light will help with the stress of lugging everything around. Plus, it'll save you time by not having to go through baggage claim! I take "packing light" to heart. I refer you to my picture of what I packed for my work trip to BEA this week. Crazy? Maybe."

Example Packing List:
2 Pairs of jeans
1 Pair of black pants--for nighttime or daytime
2-4 Tanks
2-4 Tees
2-4 Long sleeve or shirts--I usually do 2 cotton three-quarter length shirts and a button down denim and flannel. Tip: You can create multiple possibilities layering a tank or tee with an open flannel or denim and it's a brand new outfit. I love doing this!
1 Zip up hoodie
1 Open Cardigan--Comfy to wear on plane or bus rides
2 pairs of leggings
1 pair of leather leggings
1-2 Dresses--Depending on weather
1-2 Skirts--Depending on weather, usually these are 1 short black skirt for nighttime and one daytime maxi skirt
2-3 Leather Jackets--My vice not yours
1 Blazer
2 Bras--Black and nude
1 Pair yoga or comfy sweatpants
1 Pair of sleep shorts
1 Sleep t shirt

*Depending on weather or time of year, I would pack 2-4 shorts instead of jeans and a pair of leggings*
Toiletry, Makeup, & Med bag
If it doesn't fit in one of those, it stays home.

2 Pairs of boots (My vice not yours)
1 Pair of Converse
1 Pair of flats
1 Pair of flip flops

1 bag of toiletries
1 makeup bag
Random meds (Excedrin, Ibuprofen, DayQuil, NyQuil, Benadryl--I'm a nurse, I pack a pharmacy)

Damn, that seems like a lot once I look at it but really, once you roll everything up, I always find myself finding a few extra tops to throw in because I've got the room. It's an amazing feeling! With as long as that list looks, I can usually fit almost all my clothes on one side of my hard case suitcase, leaving me room for that one big open sweater and a few jackets!

Think any of my tips will help you in future packing endeavors?
Do you have any packing tips or tricks you use?
Tell me all about them below!

Don't forget to post on Instagram with the hashtag #WanderlustWednesday! It can be anything--a throwback travel photo of a place you've been, a Google image of where you want to go, an inspirational quote, a travel themed trinket you have, anything that inspires your wanderlust.


  1. I am a huge proponent of packing cubes. It's amazing what you can fit in a suitcase/backpack when using these!

  2. Yay for packing tips! I'm usually pretty good at packing my suitcase (whether carry-on or check-in), but I always like finding new things to try. I'm currently planning to try rolling my clothes (into the cubes) when I travel later this year, so thanks for that very helpful suggestion :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...