How to pack like a pro

Eagle creek adventure blackFor most people, packing is a learned skill, not an inherent gift. I was definitely not born with the “efficient packing” gene, and had to develop a process over years of frequent business travel. Walking that fine line between having everything you need without bringing too much is a constant struggle! Here are my tips for how to pack like a pro.

Get a quality suitcase. When I was in college I made the mistake of buying a cheap-ish suitcase in an airport, and the zipper busted approximately three days later. There is no overstating how important a quality suitcase is. A good carry-on will hold all of your belongings, keep you organized, and move easily through the airport. For shorter trips I use the Eagle Creek Adventure Pop Top (pictured) and for longer trips I use the Travelpro Crew 11 21” Spinner.

Edit your wardrobe. Sure, the idea of having everything you could possibly need sounds nice in theory. But when you can’t fit everything into your carry-on, or it’s too heavy to lift into the overhead bin, you will wish you had been pickier with your choices! Choose outfits based around a capsule wardrobe, and plan to wear most items more than once. If it doesn’t go with everything else, cut it!

Three pairs of shoes, max. No matter if my trip is for work or fun, I have one hard and fast rule: no more than three pairs of shoes including the pair on your feet. In fact, for most of my business travel I only bring two pairs.

Decant all of your toiletries. Virtually all of your toiletries can be decanted into a smaller container. I use 3 oz refillable bottles for most of my liquids, and the smallest quantities go in spare contact lens cases.

Use small bags and packing cubes. Packing cubes serve two purposes: they condense a large amount of clothing into a manageable size, and they keep your things organized. I also use several small bags to keep my electronics, cords, and office supplies together.

Look for multi-purpose items. One of the most important items in my carry-on is my pashmina. It’s lightweight and folds into a tiny square, but serves so many purposes–scarf, blanket, pillow, napkin, swimsuit coverup… Smart packers have a suitcase full of multitaskers. Tinted moisturizer with SPF and a reversible dress are two other items I frequently travel with.Pack like a pro

Readers, what are your best tips for how to pack like a pro?


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  1. My biggest struggle is hair styling appliances. I prefer my own hair dryer and must have my curling iron, and both take lots of space. And running shoes. Sometimes I either wear them (if I don’t have to report directly to the office when I land) and sometimes I force myself to wear the same dress shoes all week so that my running shoes fit in my carry-on. For Monday through Friday trips I’ve learned to deal with checking a bag. I just have a better week when I have all my stuff.

  2. Packing cubes, capsule wardrobe in black, gray, white, color thru cardigan & scarves (2), lotions, creams, & hair stuff in contact lens cases. I use the ebags convertible backpack junior (fits overhead or under seat. Also use travel on hackable tote

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