Lifestyle & Culture

Packing Anxiety

August 16, 2022

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HANDS UP if you’re traveling during the next few weeks. It’s been a while since many of us have gone anywhere that required  packing a suitcase.

If even before Covid, you panicked over packing, we get it. The variables, well, they always vary: you’re driving to Maine for a two-week vacation at a house you rented with your family or you’re taking a fancy train trip through Canada in August or like me, you’re flying to Athens to spend a couple of days before you board a cruise ship that sails along the Croatian coast before ending up in Venice and then going to Milan for a few days.

Before we pass out the smelling salts, note that packing methods haven’t changed much nor has the process of deciding what to pack. But if you’d appreciate a refresh on our earlier post, here’s an update:

The Method

  1. Roll knits and layer pants and shirts, separating them with either large plastic bags or tissue paper. Shoes should go in separate bags.
  2. Save space by tucking socks, underwear and jewelry pouches into shoes, which I vow to limit to three pairs. Laundry service on vacation can be expensive, but if you’re on a long trip, it may be worthwhile to shell out the extra bucks.
  3. Consider packing cubes.  I see the merits of keeping what you will need for, say a two-day trip within a trip in a separate compartment to avoid fishing around in your whole suitcase. Eagle Creek’s expandable packing cube’s  front mesh panel lets you see the contents on the off-chance you don’t remember.
  4. Corral toiletry items into plastic or cosmetic bags—one for liquids (cleanser, makeup remover, moisturizer or CC cream and sunscreen) one for dry items (dental floss, mascara, eyeliner, blush) and another one for meds.
  5. I’ve used Downy Wrinkle Releaser at home for years, but I didn’t know there was a travel size. Spray it on your shirt/dress/etc.,then use your hands to smooth out the creases. Save on the amount of laundry you were planning to send out.
  6. My MZ Wallace backpack (12.2 inches long-by-6.9 inches wide-by 1.5 inches high) is a savior. I put my laptop and my Kindle in it, as well as a small purse or clutch where I like to stash a travel-size moisturizer, hand sanitizer and lipstick. Very generous interior pockets accommodate a cell phone, plugs, earphones, you name it. Plus the detachable, large envelope-size zippered compartment is convenient for any larger-size toiletries I want to pack in my suitcase. A large exterior pocket  keeps docs such as boarding passes easily accessible.


What to Pack

If I think I need it, I take it. That’s been my usual modus operandi, which results in a bulging, heavy suitcase with a lot of things I never wear. So, for this upcoming trip, I consulted travel expert Leslie Wilmott’s site, Smart Women on the Go for pro tips and to follow her mantra of “pack smart, pack light.”

  1. Hang up every item you’re thinking of taking on a collapsible clothes rack (I lay out everything on my bed); shoes go on the floor below matching up with the selected clothes. (Wilmott then plans what she could wear each day of her trip and makes notes on her calendar, saying this helps her edit her wardrobe.)
  2. Try everything on, creating outfits and adding accessories that will be the most versatile. Each top should go with each bottom (take more tops than bottoms). Stick to a limited color palette (beige, white and black, say) and plan to wear each item multiple times.
  3. Collect samples of your favorite skin care products and save them for trips; transfer others to travel-size (3.4 ounces or less), leak-proof containers. To keep luggage light, Wilmott follows the TSA rules whether she checks her bags or not. (Most hotels have shampoo, conditioner and body lotions.)
  4. Plan what to pack based on the weather and likely activities.
  5. Finally, if you need something when you arrive at your destination, shop for it; it’s part of the fun of traveling.


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2 thoughts on “Packing Anxiety

  1. barbara Kreger says:

    all good advice; concentrating on a color theme increases mix& match ups; but the absolute best is to try on each outfit and then see (if you like the way it fits today) and make some unexpected combos w/ tops with bottoms. It’s actually fun to do.

  2. Ernie Sota says:

    Very helpful article on packing. Since men also read this wonderful blog perhaps include more references to what they might use, that is a reference to men’s backpacks, etc.

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