The way you pack can either make or break your trip. Hanging around the airport lost baggage office is a drag (I’ve been there), as is opening up a suitcase and finding everything in a crumpled mess. With some foresight and planning, however, you can make the process seamless and worry-free. Read on for 9 tips on how to pack like a pro:
1) If you travel frequently to the same location, say from your east coast office to your west coast office, leave a trunk or suitcase at the hotel. Most good hotels are happy to do this for frequent guests, and often without charge. Lifestyle engineer and frequent traveler Tim Ferriss recommends this, and while you may not keep lentils and whey protein in your trunk like Tim does, his idea is enormously useful for clothes and shoes which can take up a lot of space in your luggage. When the clothes you wore are dirty, simply give them to the hotel laundry and tell them to put them back in your bag when they’re clean. Every so often you can switch things out so you aren’t repeating outfits too much.
2) One can tend to accumulate things along the way when traveling, particularly for leisure. In order to make sure everything fits on the way back and/or that you can still fit your bag as a carry-on, bring along 4-5 empty gallon-size Ziploc bags on your trip. When you’re packing to come home, fold and put your dirty clothes inside the bags, then (and this is the key), SIT on the Ziploc to squeeze out all of the air, and then zip it shut. You’re essentially vacuum-sealing your clothes. This works great for dirty t-shirts, underwear and socks, and it saves you a huge amount of space. When you get home, the contents of the Ziplocs go straight into the laundry. No sorting required.
3) Keep a separate travel toilet kit with travel-size versions of all the toiletrees you’ll need for travel. Don’t touch it except for when traveling.
4) If there’s one thing that makes suitcases unwieldy, it’s shoes. Try as best you can to only pack one pair of shoes. That means you’ll need a couple of pairs in your wardrobe that are extremely versatile. A brown dress shoe (lace-up or monk straps – see #8 on avoiding a major shoe fail) is a great call because you can wear it with everything from jeans to a suit. If you’re going with brown shoes, also pack or wear a brown belt. And if you want bonus points, make sure the buttons on the sportcoat/suit jacket you’re bringing have brown in them too like in the image above.
5) A garment bag like the Hartmann above is excellent for business travel, as it allows you to keep your dress shirts and suit/sportcoat/pants hanging and as wrinkle free as possible, and it fits in most overhead compartments. As soon as you arrive at your destination, unpack it right away to give the clothes a chance to release any creases that might have formed in transit. If necessary, hang your things in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to steam out creases, or send it to the hotel laundry for a once over with the steamer.
6) Roll up items that don’t wrinkle as easily like underwear, socks, t-shirts and jeans and pack them at the bottom of your garment bag. Shoes and dopp kit go in the outside pockets or at the bottom of the bag beneath the rolled up items.
7) For your nice shoes, travel with either your regular shoe trees or a pair of travel shoe trees. No sense in beating up your shoes just because you’re on the road. And pack your shoes in cloth shoe bags or plastic bags to protect your clothes from getting dirty.
8) Don’t be that guy wearing loafers with his suit because you didn’t want to deal with lace-ups when going through airport security. Instead, get a pair of monkstraps (double or single). You can slip in and out of them easily, and unlike loafers, they’re OK to wear with a suit.
9) Get TSA Pre-Check. While it takes a little effort to get, it’s one of the best travel moves you can make.
What are your travel packing tips? Share them in the comments below.