I love to travel, and planning what to pack is part of the fun. It only took a few overseas trips to convert me from a chronic over-packer to a carry-on-only traveler. Last month I posted about selecting items for a capsule travel wardrobe; this time I’ll show you how I pack and some of the tools I use.
Last year for a two-week trip in April to Provence and Paris, this was my 12-piece capsule wardrobe:
My carry-on suitcase is a rolling 20″ from the “Tarmac” line by Eagle Creek. I chose this bag as it’s under or at the maximum carry-on dimensions for almost every major airline. Some people prefer non-wheeled bags, duffels, or those that convert to a backpack; it’s all a matter of taste and personal preference. I find a wheeled bag most convenient, and so am willing to sacrifice a little bit of interior space and added weight for the telescoping handle. Having used both open interior bags and those with built-in compartments, I’ll opt for the open interior when every cubic inch of space is precious.
As most of my travel clothing consists of knits or other fabrics that don’t wrinkle, I’ll roll most of my clothing items individually. Small items like underwear, tank tops and socks will go into a soft packing cube. These are also great for staying organized if your travel plans include multiple destinations requiring frequent packing and unpacking.
Look for ways to use every iota of space. I stuff my shoes with socks, jewelry, my Clarisonic, whatever will fit. Avoid using hard-sided toiletries kits or other pouches. Anything that can squish into an irregular nook or cranny will save space. I do pack my Clarisonic and battery-powered toothbrush for longer trips, but don’t bother with a blow dryer (most hotels provide) or any hair styling tools (one of the advantages of a very short hairstyle!) or any other appliances. Here’s how my little suitcase looks with a two week travel wardrobe, shoes, accessories and toiletries. Room to spare!
With limits on carry-on liquids still in place, toiletries can be a challenge. Some people bring none and rely upon products provided by hotels, or purchase upon arrival. This can be tough if you have sensitivities and don’t know how you might react to new products, or if you just don’t want to have to spend valuable sightseeing time shopping for toothpaste, moisturizer, shampoo, sunscreen, etc. I prefer to bring my own products, which I decant into travel-sized bottles and jars. You can pick these up just about anywhere, but big box stores generally have a good selection. Also look for travel-sized versions of your favorite products. Here’s two week’s worth of my liquid toiletries, all ready to whip out to show the TSA.
If you use a lot of makeup in liquid form, you’ll need to take into account for your “quart sized container” limit of carry-on liquids. I don’t bother with a lot of makeup when traveling, but stick to mostly non-liquid products. (I’ve heard conflicting advice on whether mascara counts as a liquid, but on a couple of occasions I’ve forgotten to move it to my liquids bag and passed security without question.)
And finally, to accommodate those souvenirs that are just too good to pass up, I pack a folding duffel bag (folded up into it’s own small pouch), which I’ll use as a carry on for the flight home and check my regular suitcase. We often buy wines, mustards, vinegars, olive oils on our travels, and these go into a sealed wine skin in the checked bag for a safe ride home.
Do you have any tricks or tips for packing light? Do you bring everything you think you might need, or do you shop along the way?
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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-six, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, Une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.