Like many things in life, such as shopping on Ebay or learning how to pull off the perfect the beach wave, the art of packing requires patience and persistence. I know this because I spent most of my twenties lacking both of those virtues and thus opted for more of a “cram whatever’s in your immediate perview into a decripit roller suitcase 20 minutes before you have to be at the airport” approach to packing. Needless to say, this led me to donning some pretty bizarre outfits at the professional conferences and workshops I attended at my bosses’ benevolent yet authoritative will. The bizarre looks I received from fellow lanyard wearers at said events served as a testament to my faulty packing ways. And thankfully, after years of trial and error, I did develop a packing practice of sorts and I decided I’d share it here for those of you who are struggling to cope with the concept of how to get your things organized before your next big professional or (fingers crossed for you) personal trip.
1. INVEST IN GOOD LUGGAGE. It doesn’t even have to be that good, really. But find something that would make whipping around airports or bus stations kind of fun for you. I few years back, I splurged and picked up a Marmot backpack and whenever I take it places, it brings out my adventurous side. (i.e. I buy granola bars instead of Skittles at truck stop mini-marts. Watch out Bear Grylls!)
2. POUR YOURSELF A GLASS OF WINE. This might be an obvious one, but as soon as I realized I could treat myself to a glass of wine every time I packed, I began to dread the whole process much less. Combining the two – drinking while packing – makes me feel like I’m a tipsy, well-traveled version of Pavlov’s dog in the best way imaginable. And sure, while packing under the influence isn’t always advised, it does keep things interesting as you never know what outfit inspiration may come your way after a little pinot noir.
3. KONDO THE $H*T OUT OF YOUR BELONGINGS. Unless you’ve been living beneath a small, compressed piece of quarry, you’ve already heard of Marie Kondo’s NYTimes bestseller, The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up. The book has launched a cult like following for good reason: getting rid of junk really does, as Kondo claims, feel great, if not soul-cleansing. I speak from personal experience as I recently Kondoed my childhood bedroom with my mother and even my dad noticed the change. (“It looks brighter in here!” he said and my mom and I high-fived as if we were Rory and Lorelai.) And when is a better time to get rid of junk than when you’re already going through your items to pack ’em up? As Kondo suggests, hold onto each item you own and if the item doesn’t spark joy within you, donate or sell it. I know, I know. It sounds a little like a hippie dippie anti-capitalism ploy, but Kondoing, it turns out, actually is a really great mental health exercise.
4. DO LAUNDRY. Again, this is perhaps obvious, but there’s something so nice about unpacking freshly cleaned, lightly fragrant clothes instead of what has been sitting at the bottom of your wooden Ikea dresser for the past few months. Fragrant clothes make the whole unpacking experience feel a little more refreshing. But if you don’t have time or would prefer not to wash your clothes unnecessarily (I feel you), then remember:
5. DRYER SHEETS ARE NOT JUST FOR DRYERS. Let’s say the clothes you want to pack are already clean, but maybe they’ve lost their fresh spring sent. I propose you slide a couple of dryer sheets into your suitcase for a quick sentual upgrade. Your nostrils can thank me later.
6. PUT THINGS IN SHOES. Socks, undies, bras, and other small clothing items fit nicely into tennis shoes and boots and save you room in your suitcase for whatever else you may be hauling or have bought on your trip and want to haul home that you will eventually wind up Kondoing. (See #3 above.)
7. PLASTIC BAGS ARE YOUR FRIEND. They work great as jewelry containers, shampoo and conditioner spill protectors, and even electronic device guarders. Ziploc waterproof bags are cheap protect your items against the elements, unexpected spills, and even to some degree luggage handler rage. I like to keep an empty plastic bag in my carry on bag at all times just in case something unexpected arises like a bottle weirdly explodes.
8. DON’T FORGET TO ADD ART. Packing a picture from home or even a small statue can add personality or zen to any space you’re about to stay in. One of these cute jewelry dishes for example could be thrown into any bag and make any hotel room feel like your own personalized boudoir.
7. PACK SUITCASES ACCORDING TO THE SEASONS. (This is more applicable if you’re packing for a big, more permanent move.) I’ve found that putting off-season clothes and shoes together into a separate bag means you have one less bag to unpack upon arrival. As such, you can store those temporarily unnecessary clothes easily in your basement or under your bed or wherever dust bunnies are best formed. Besides, forgetting about clothes in suitcases only to discover them anew in a few months is kind like experiencing Christmas morning but more like, “Hey! The gang (i.e. old sweaters and much loved boots) is back together!”
10. EAT SOME ICE CREAM. Once you’re done packing, treat yo self again! Grab a cookie or some ice cream or if you’re feeling really crazy (normal?) pour yourself another glass of wine. Because congratulations. You’ve successfully packed for your next best trip. [Hug.]
What are your favorite packing tips? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.