Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’m an obsessive packer.
When I went to camp in middle and high school, I would gather all of my gear and stuff it into my duffel bag as soon as I got the recommended packing list – often months ahead of time. I would then unpack and repack every week or so to make sure I still had everything I needed (and nothing more!).
Not much has changed since then.
Assembling a packing list and packing well – in as small a bag as possible – still gives me (almost) as much joy as the trip itself.
As I am preparing to go to Ireland for 10 days, I thought I would share my packing routine with you.
START WITH A LIST
If you write out your packing list in advance, it’s much easier to avoid overpacking (or forgetting something crucial). Here are some list-building tips:
- There’s an app for that. I like to build my packing list in Trello, which is the free organizational app I use to keep track of everything from my daily To Do list to the books I want to read, but you could write it out anywhere you like.
- Do the math. When putting together a packing list, my favorite bit of advice comes from Connie Wang in Refinery29. It’s a simple formula:
Days / 5 = Dresses x 3 = Tops & Bottoms
- Divide the number of days you will be traveling by 5, then round up to the nearest whole number. That’s how many dresses you should bring.
- Multiply that number by 3. That’s how many tops and bottoms you should bring.
- If you don’t want to bring dresses, adjust accordingly.
- Stick to a color scheme. Packing items according to a color scheme makes it easier to mix and match once you’re on the road, so you’ll get more wear out of each item you bring. While many travel sites tell you to stick to neutrals, there’s no reason your look has to be boring. I’m bringing mostly black, but a variety of textures will keep my outfits interesting.
- Leave that extra pair of shoes behind. As nice as it would be to have the perfect pair of shoes for every outfit, they take up a lot of space and are awkward to fit in a suitcase. Unless you know for sure you will be going to a fancy dress occasion, leave the heels at home. The same goes for athletic shoes (“I think I might want to hit the hotel gym” isn’t good enough). I like to bring a pair of nice, comfortable shoes or boots for everyday wear, plus a pair of flats that can double as going-out shoes and quasi-slippers to wear around the hotel.
Here’s a look at my lists (organized by category) for a 10-day trip to Ireland in March:
It may look like I’m bringing a lot of toiletries, but they’re all sample size so everything will still fit in my TSA-mandated quart-size zip-top bag.
ASSEMBLE EVERYTHING & SORT IT OUT
I like to start packing by throwing everything on my list into a giant pile on my bed, and then I divide my pile into suitcase items, carry-on items, and wear-on-the-plane items.
Plan to wear your bulkiest items on the plane. Not only will you be extra cosy, but it will free up extra space in your bag. My plane outfit always includes a coat, my biggest sweater, and my heaviest pair of shoes or boots. Just make sure it’s not a pair that requires lots of lacing! You don’t want to hold up the security line trying to take your shoes off.
BAG IT UP
The quickest way to make everything in your suitcase and carry-on seem infinitely more organized is to further sort your items by category and put them into bags and pouches.
- Most of my clothes get neatly folded and wrapped up in a compression bag.
- I put my underwear in cute little wash & wear bags, but you could also use shoe bags, gift bags, or even plastic grocery bags.
- My chargers and outlet converters go into a little bag so they don’t get tangled.
- Of course, as per the TSA’s instructions, all of my liquids, gels, and aerosols go in a quart-sized zip-top bag.
- The remainder of my toiletries go into my Poe bag.
- Jewelry goes into another pouch, as do my tea bags and snacks.
PACK IT AWAY
Put items you will need easy access to (like your baggie of liquids & gels) near the top of the bag, and stow items you won’t need until later (like jewelry) underneath.
Voilà! Plenty of room left to bring things back.
See something you like in this post?
Here’s where to get it:
- Hype Metallic Backpack, ASOS
- Wash & Wear Bags, Kate Spade
- Compression Bag, Eagle Creek
- Liquids & Gels Bag, RuMe
- Poe-ka Dot Pouch, Out of Print
- Pride & Prejudice Pouch, Out of Print
Also, it should be relatively obvious if you look around the rest of the blog, but no one paid me to link to their stuff. I just like it!