Packing a Suitcase the Easy Way!
I have often thought I should start a professional packing service. Not kidding. From the time I was young, and I'm talking 14-15 years old, I have been obsessed with packing, storing and organizing. Obsession to the point where I would pack and re-pack the same bags over and over until things felt right. My parents had me pack the luggage storage system on top of the car for long road trips. I Tetris-ed the shit out of those suitcases and duffle bags.
My mother taught me to pack in outfits. We would spend our summers at a family cabin at Bear Lake, and we had to bring 6-8 weeks worth of outfits with us each time, so I got really good at "capsule wardrobes" before they were a thing. I also brought a suitcase solely for shoes when I was around 15 years old and still spending my summers at the cabin, but that's besides the point.
In this little blog post, I'm going to give you all my best tips and tricks for packing a bag. I'll be using a real life example, because One week from this post, I'll be taking a 4 day trip with my girlfriends to a Leaders Conference for SeneGence! (WE GET TO SEE RACHEL HOLLIS LIVE!!) I'll try to link all products that are still available for purchase, since I've been collecting my travel gear for about 5 years now.
To start out, I'm not going to be carrying my bag on this flight. This is one of the only times I won't use a carry on, because none of the girls I'm flying with are, I'm bringing my ring light (because there are more girls than lighting and mirrors on this trip!) and I don't want to be bothered with more than my purse if I'll be waiting at baggage claim anyway. 9/10 times, I carry on. I carried on only for two weeks in Hawaii, three weeks in South East Asia and I'll never check again if I don't have to, or if I'm only traveling with my family.
I'll include my packing list below, so you can get an idea of what I'll be bringing for the 4 day trip. Again, this is a little more extra than most, because GIRLS TRIP!
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I like to plan packing on excel! This is the spreadsheet I have going so far:
As you can see, I get pretty detailed when it comes to planning. I like to see how many pieces of each outfit can be used multiple times, and I always make sure I have at least 2 extra outfits hidden somewhere in there! One thing that I don't have included on this list is the extra pair of jeans I always pack. Because you truly never know when you're gonna need to throw on a pair of jeans and handle some business.
My husband first experienced this level of detailed planning when we went on our honeymoon. We were gone for about three weeks, and because I had never been to South East Asia before, I went WAY more overboard than I did on the spreadsheet above. He gave me SO MUCH CRAP about it. I packed and repacked for months, trying to determine what type of bag I wanted to bring, what I should pack, how I should pack it. When it came right down to it, he was impressed. I had everything he needed (first aid kits are not a joke when you're traveling internationally) and he gained a whole new kind of respect for this artform. When we went to Hawaii last fall, I insisted on carry on only and we made it happen with ease.
Back to this trip! First thing I do after I have my outfits and necessities planned out is lay it all out in one place:
This helps me get an idea of the space I need for packing, especially if I'm not limiting myself to a single carry on bag. Because I will not be going to a shopping destination (unless someone knows something about Tulsa, Oklahoma that I don't) I'm not overly worried about having extra space in my luggage on the way back. I never pack a bag to bursting on the way out just in case, though.
Before I start to organize everything in the suitcase itself, I pack my packing cubes. I try and get a feel with how many packing cubes I should use based on the amount of days and types of outfits I'm bringing. Because my outfits shown here are mostly their own "thing", I'm going to use a different packing cube for each outfit. The cubes I'm using are linked here for the black ones and here for the green.
I have learned that rolling my clothes is a good solution for me. My clothing is small as is, because I'm a small sized human, and if I roll them I'm able to get a lot more in each cube. I normally do not roll my denim or my jackets, though. I'll fold those (shown below) and lay them on top of the cube before I zip. I also try to leave one article of clothing laid flat to give me a quick peek at what category of clothing is in each cube.
Now that I have all my clothing rolled and situated in their respective cubes, I'm going to start tetris-ing them all together into the suitcase.
For this amount of stuff, I am going to check a full size suitcase. Shoutout to SouthWest Airlines for two free checked bags! I tend to start the suitcase at the bottom with the heaviest items, which are normally my shoes. Then, I situate my packing cubes into the first "layer".
After I'm sure everything will fit well without sliding around on the first layer, I add onto it and fill the suitcase. Luckily, since I'm not bringing that much and this is a big bag, I barely had to make a second layer on the right side of the suitcase. After zipping the left compartment and laying my tote bag and bag organizer on top, I'm ready to roll!
I'll be breaking down my favorite travel purchases in another post, so stay tuned!