No matter how widely we’ve travelled, we’ve all at some time packed badly for a trip. Perhaps we failed to check the forecast at our destination and spent a week sweltering or shivering; or perhaps we realized halfway to the airport that we had forgotten something desperately important. The most common error of all, though, is failing to pack with purpose. It’s remarkable how few items we really, truly need - and how badly we miss them when we decide to pack that third pair of heels instead.
What to pack:
Unless there is something you honestly need for a specific event - a formal dress, say - pack only pieces that can be re-combined into multiple outfits. You need a fistful of stylish essentials that can hold up to life on the road without much maintenance, and a few accessories to dress them up or down as the occasion requires. As Vogue pointed out not long ago, no less of a style icon than Joan Didion travelled with a carefully-calibrated packing list that we could all afford to emulate.
Of course, your personal list will differ a little from Joan’s - whether you consider cigarettes and bourbon essential items is a matter for personal reflection, and most of us would trade the legal pad for a phone charger - but the basic principle is a solid one. You’ll notice that only about one-third of the list is clothes - a thoughtful selection of items that could be worn and reworn in different settings.
How to pack it:
Making smart use of space is essential to ensure you get all your must-haves on board, and that everything arrives ready to wear.
- Roll, don’t fold
Rather than folding your clothes, then placing them in your suitcase, try rolling them up as small as possible. You’ll find it’s easier to squeeze extra pieces in, and they’re less likely to arrive creased.
- Bags in bags in bags
They’re nobody’s favorites at home, but when travelling, the humble plastic shopping bag is your #1 sidekick. Wrap shoes in plastic bags before placing them in your suitcase to prevent dirt from the street from rubbing off on your clean, freshly-rolled clothes. Use a large plastic bag (the dry cleaning bag from your hotel will do in a pinch) to separate worn clothes from clean. And never let toiletries or other liquids (not even bourbon) roam free in your checked luggage; head off potentially disastrous leaks by sealing them in a toilet bag, or (you guessed it) a plastic bag.
- Don’t waste an inch
Now your suitcase looks completely full, and maybe it is. But sometimes there’s a little pocket of space you just hadn’t noticed. The insides of shoes are excellent for stashing smaller items like rolled-up socks, scarves, chargers, and costume jewellery. If the shoes in question are flats, gently wedge one inside the other to almost halve the space they take up.