Packing Tips!

When I was in my early twenties, I was a chronic over packer. I think every time I went on a trip with girlfriends we’d try to “out shoe” each other.  Meaning “How many shoes did you bring?” “You brought 5?  I brought 7!”  LOL!  But in recent years, I’ve had to travel a lot more for work and packing for work travel (which you don’t want to be lugging around a huge suitcase when doing multi-city stops with your boss) has helped me figure out ways to help make packing easier so thought I’d share my method with you guys!


I’m a super organized traveler so as you can see from my photos, everything has it’s own pouch or case.
The Tools: 
  • A good sturdy suitcase – Mine is a Tumi roller (similar here) that is carry on size but roomy enough for a 5 day trip as well.  I’ve had it for I think 5 years now and it’s incredible how much it’s been through yet nothing is broken.  Zippers still work perfectly, the wheels run smoothly and the handle isn’t wobbly.  Although expensive, this suitcase was worth every penny.  Luggage is one of those things that I truly believe that you should invest in if you travel a lot.  I also love that mine is a rare pink that you never see.  I try to do carry on most of the time but the times that I check my bag, I never have trouble spotting my pink luggage!
  • Packing CubesThese are amazing for someone that loves organization.  I put all of my clothes into one by rolling everything (rolling helps with wrinkles) and the other ones I put in my delicates (undies, sleepwear, workout clothes) and the last one is miscellaneous but I usually keep my toiletry bag, curling iron or flat iron (only one, never both), makeup brush pouch and ipod speakers in there.  You know how sometimes you forget something and you need to dig into your suitcase to get it and then it ruins your packing job?  With packing cubes, you never have that problem.  You just find the one you put it in and pull it out without ruining everything else.  Then when you pack all the cubes, they just fit together into the suitcase.  There is no sitting on the suitcase to get it closed.  It just fits!
  • Shoe bags – You don’t have to worry about getting anything dirty or anything scratching your shoes.
  • Jewelry Pouch – My mother in law bought me a whole travel bag set for my birthday a few years ago and this jewelry pouch was included and is my favorite.  Unfortunately I don’t know the brand of it but this one looks really nice as well.  It has compartments for all my jewelry and even a neat little roll that you can slip your rings on.  None of my jewelry ever has to get tangled together and it’s so easy to see what I brought.
  • Laptop Case – If you get a slim one like mine and keep nothing else in it, you can take it through security without taking it out of it’s case.  (Don’t hold me to it though, TSA gets picky, but most let me take it through w/o taking it out.)  Pack the laptop case last (right on top of the packing cubes) for easy access to pull it out when you get to security.  (Mine is by Knomo and you can find a similar style here or here.  Mine is a few years old so they don’t make this color/style anymore.)

What I pack:

  • Check the weather before you go: I bring clothes for the climate but knowing that I often get cold, I always bring an extra cardigan and scarf just in case.  I like Accuweather because it has the temperature but also the “RealFeel” temperature which when you see 78 degrees but “RealFeel” 100 degrees than you know you really don’t need to bring that extra cardigan!
  • Keep it in the same color family: I always try to take basics like black pants, dark skinny jeans and things that mix and match with similar tones or patterns.  I never pack “outfits” meaning “these pants go with this top and these shoes” because that always fails for me.  Inevitably I don’t feel like wearing that outfit that I packed and I don’t feel as comfortable that day.  
  • The essential shoes (only!): I don’t go overboard with shoes now because shoes are bulky and take up too much space.  I always always bring 1 pair of flats that will go with every outfit and 1 pair of heels that will go easily from office to dinner.  The shoes that I wear on the plane are usually either my bulkiest shoes (like boots that would be hard to pack) or heels that are a good alternative to the black ones in case I don’t feel like wearing black.
  • Cosmetics bag: Because I travel a lot and I hated packing and repacking all the same makeup essentials, I bought two of everything I use a lot and keep one set in my travel cosmetics bag at all times.  That way there is no way I can forget my favorite eyeliner or blush, which I always used to do.  I do the same with my makeup brushes and have a set that I only use for travel.  I use this Vera Bradley one because it’s roomy and lined in plastic so it can be cleaned easily when makeup breaks or spills (which inevitably it does, I had eyeshadows shatter and the whole inside was covered in brown and gold eyeshadow but with water it cleaned right off.)
  • Extras to make your trip easier: iPod speakers (when I travel alone, it gets lonely and I’m not a TV watcher so prefer music),  I use this one which you can connect your iPod and iPhone to.  A power strip – yes, a power strip.  How many times have you looked around a hotel  room for an electrical outlet only to find one that is easy to plug into, but you have 3 things to charge?  It doesn’t add too much weight to bring one and when I travel with the hubs we never have to fight for who gets to charge what first.  This is especially helpful when traveling to a tropical city where it’s more of a touristy destination and they don’t think about outlets like business hotels do.  For photographers, this was super handy for us because charging DSLR batteries takes up an outlet for a long time!  Room Spray: (Keep this in your baggy of liquids that you have to take out at security) I know I’m not the only one that hates the smell of most hotel rooms!  I am a fan of these Bath and Body Works room sprays.  Small and compact and last a long time.

What to carry on:

  • My carry on bag is usually either my matching Tumi overnight bag (similar here) that I keep my purse in along with everything else, or on shorter trips, I just carry a purse like my Louis Vuitton Neverfull that can carry a good amount of stuff.  
  • A tote like the Neverfull (I also use the Rebecca Minkoff Cherish tote) is pretty much my go to for work trips as it holds my files, laptop charger, mouse, etc… pretty easily.  For non-work trips where I know I’ll be walking around a lot and taking pictures, I usually bring a cross body bag.  My Marc by Marc Jacobs bag is a fave for travel.
  • Things that I keep in my purse: my jewelry pouch, wallet, iPhone, iPod, Nook (I have the old Nook but the new color Nook is awesome!), magazines and a small cosmetics pouch that I keep a mirror, blush/blush brush, lipstick and eyeliner in for touch ups when you land and there’s no time to go to the hotel to freshen up.  Oh and of course a scarf because I’m always cold!
  • If I bring my iPad, I keep it there as well but I never bring both my laptop and iPad.  It’s overload and I already carry too much.
  • And of course my camera if I bring it.  When I bring my DSLR, I keep the camera body and lens in their own pouches.  Not only does it protect it better, they are easier to carry and less bulky as two separate parts than one gigantic, awkward shape.

I took those photos in a hotel room packing to come home so you can see that I really do pack like that on every trip! 🙂 

p.s. If you are wondering what luggage we used to transport our camera equipment for our photography jobs, we use this titan luggage and a lot of custom cut foam padding!  Hubs sometimes would also double pack the cameras into this Crumpler bag to make it that much safer.

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  • Neris / Fashion Fractions
    September 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Great advices 🙂 I've always been an over packer but I've noticed the improvement lately 🙂


    Fashion Fractions

  • katattack2000
    September 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Great tips! It's funny reading this after I blogged about the same thing 🙂 this will help me a lot especially the jewellery holder storage

  • elizabethashleyphoto
    September 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Such a great post, thank you! Great tips and it's always fun to see how people pack. We are going on a trip in November, so I will try to use some of your tips!

  • Andrea
    September 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    So helpful! I am traveling a lot for work now so I am definelty going to take your advice. I recently went to multiple cities in Japan for work and I will never over pack again!

  • Diane
    September 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    such great tips 🙂

  • sanjchee
    September 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    amazing post ! thanks so much for your tips. i'm totally getting a jewellery pouch – i hate it when my stuff gets tangled!

  • Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
    September 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Great post Tiffany as always! I'm going to look into those packing cubes. They look pretty useful. Could you do a post on what you would pack for vacation? I don't travel for business and we usually go to Florida for a couple weeks or do an all inclusive vacation. I always end up overpacking and use not even half my stuff!

  • Mindy♥
    September 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Oh! Thank you so much for these tips. I'm currently in the stage of being an overpacker.. definitely need to work on fixing that. 🙂

  • Schnelle Couture
    September 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    great tips! I like to roll everything too. You are so organized- like a professional packer! I love those Prada bow flats -adorable!!

  • CessOviedo
    September 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I'm saving this to my favorites! I'm guilty of over packing i have to bring so many options if no I feel very insecure! Out shoe? that I do a lot too! Great tips!

    Cess O. <3 The Outfit Diaries

  • Gina
    September 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I'm notorious for being an over-packer, so these tips will definitely come in handy for me. Thanks!

  • katiebluebird
    September 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    SO useful! Thanks for sharing!

  • tiffyama
    September 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Ah, thanks so much for the tips! I always am in a rut when it comes to packing for short and/or long trips, which makes me do everything last minute. After reading your post, I feel a bit at ease. ^^

  • Michelle
    September 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    fantastic tips, tiffany! i love my tumi and packing blocks as well – i think i picked the blocks up after reading another post you did on them quite a while back. i have no idea how i ever lived without them 🙂

  • M.R.
    September 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    a power strip is such a great idea!

  • The Little Dust Princess
    September 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Great advice! I never have to debate between the curling iron or flat iron though. A flat iron can easily do both jobs!

  • marcella
    September 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    this jewelry pouch is amazing, I think I'm gonna be getting one for myself

  • ♥ tiffany
    September 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I love reading packing tips– it's just one of those things that you can never be too good at! I recently learned the art of rolling up clothes and I'm going to try organizing my suitcase With packing cubes too!! Where did you find your packing cubes?

  • eri
    September 21, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    i LOVE this post! so informative and helpful 🙂

  • Alexa
    September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    This is such a helpful post! It's inspired me to be a better packer. 🙂

  • fabulously petite
    September 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    These are some of the best packing tips I've read. Thanks. I'll be using a lot of them 🙂

  • Apriljoy
    September 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Wow! I need to learn to pack like you!

  • Jules
    September 22, 2011 at 12:57 am

    This was an awesome post! I sometimes dread "how to pack" posts because they're always such generic suggestions, but yours were really helpful! I am a terrible traveler in that I overpack and I ALWAYS forget something. But I'll definitely be referencing this post next time I have to take a trip!

  • xxayeexx
    September 22, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Great tips! I'm always over pack!

  • Meisha.Style
    September 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    impressive! thank you for the tips! love that jewelry pouch!

  • J
    September 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    great tips! i'm always looking for more! i like the jewelry organizer a lot!

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    September 23, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Great packing tips Tiffany! I also got much better at packing once I started traveling a lot for work. I am all about ziploc bags and keeping everything organized!

  • Life's a shoe
    September 23, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Great tips! I love the idea of the cubes! for my accessories, i usually just put it all in one pouch or ziploc bag so the idea of a real jewelry pouch is really great!

  • Lass
    September 24, 2011 at 1:42 am

    This could not have been better timed! I am off to Australia next month (from New Zealand…so not as epic as it sounds!) and because it's so much warmer there I am all excited about summer clothes. I want to take 4 pairs of shoes. I am taking carry on only. This could be a debacle.
    Your advice is totally sound and I'll definitely be referring back to this post for a good old dose of common sense in about four weeks – you make it all sound so nice and calm and organised. Definitely finding some of those packing cubes too!

  • Elisse
    September 26, 2011 at 5:55 am

    I started using packing cubes this year, and it's made my travelling so much easier!! Great tips!

  • DiamondsandTulle
    September 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Hi Tiff!

    I've been away for awhile and totally concur with all yor packing tips! I'm a huge fan of separate bags/pouches for everything! Agreed with all of your points and LOVE your tip for the extra power strip! I've never thought of that one but you are SO right! I'm going to add that to my travel items drawer!

    xx Vivian @

  • She's Gonna Snap!
    September 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I like packing cause I usually have all the time in the world to think about how I'm going to do it but I hate unpacking because I usually don't have the time to put everything in neat order again. haha.

    PS: I see some JewelMint pieces in your jewelry bag!

  • MJ
    September 28, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Thanks so much for this. I always seem to overpack. Definitely need some of those packing cubes.

  • LediaJ
    June 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you so much for these tips! Very useful 🙂