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!
- 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 Cubes - These 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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.