Say Bon Voyage to Over Packing: A How-to Guide on Cramming Everything you Need into a Carry-On and Other Travel Tips

Oct 03 2019 0 Comments

This is it! You've bought your tickets, you've set the date, and you are officially on your way to the trip of your dreams! Now, what the heck do you pack?! There is nothing more panic inducing than figuring out what essentials you need to bring on your vacay that are going to be equal parts comfortable, and look great in your Instagram pics. Well, lucky for you, I've developed a system for packing that is going to make your life marginally easier when it comes to travel (and yes it involves Marie Kondo-ing the s!@& out of your clothing!). Here is my guide for comfortable plane travel, some tips on what to pack, and how to pack it so it all fits in a carry-on. After-all I did manage to cram 25 different outfit options for a two week trip into a carry-on bag, and still had room for three pairs of shoes. 

If you are anything like me and need about two glasses of wine before you even board your flight, here is a basic guide on what to wear and a few things I bring on the plane to make my time among the clouds slightly less likely to induce an anxiety attack. Picture this: you arrive at the airport the requisite two hours early, kitted out in your most comfortable travel gear, ready to seize the proverbial day! Now what are you wearing? For me its a comfy pair of leggings, a bralette, a loose fitting top, and a super cozy knit sweater. I'm talking blanket worthy knit--which in fact it can double as, because lord knows those airplane blankets leave a lot to be desired. I cannot stress this enough--you are going to want to be as comfortable as possible; especially if the flight is in the double digits. Best to skip anything constricting like tight tops or denim. I actually think air-travel is one of the only times athleisure is acceptable in public, so gear up in your favorite Lululemon leggings!

Travel tip #1: do yourself a favor and buy some compression socks--yes the same ones worn by your grandmother. Trust me, they will save you from any uncomfortable leg swelling that may occur in the pressurized cabin. I also always wear closed-toed shoes (mainly because my mother says to, although she also told me never to shave above my knee, so take that with a grain of salt), but hey, if you want to wear your Birkenstocks with your compression socks, go right ahead. Speaking of shoes, I know this is where our brains go "we need six pairs to work with every outfit", but depending on where you'll be going, you'll really only need some sturdy walking shoes, a pair of "cute" sandals, and a pair of dress shoes. You can wear either your walking shoes or your sandals on the plane to save room, and pack the other two.

Travel tip #2: There are three ABSOLUTE essentials I have to bring on any flight to create what my cousin has dubbed "The Cocoon": They are as follows: a collapsible travel pillow, a blackout sleep mask, and a pair of noise cancelling headphones. It's the old see no evil, hear no evil deal; I want to be deaf, dumb, and blind to whatever is happening around me. Just be sure to politely ask your seat mate to give you a heads up when the snacks are being wheeled your way--we don't need to add low blood sugar to this equation.

Packing for a trip usually entails a level of procrastination that rivals even folding and putting away our own laundry. It would be easier if we did it as soon as it comes out of the dryer, but it just seems like sooooo much work! I don't advocate drinking for most jobs, but if you dread packing as much as I do, pour a glass of wine, pull up a good flick on Netflix, and get cracking.

Travel tip #3 Look up the weather patterns during the time of year you are going on your trip to make packing the right items easier, i.e. if you are going anywhere during monsoon season, you'll most likely want to pack an umbrella and weather resistant shoes. You can find weather resistant jackets from brands like Patagonia that fold up super small so as not to take up too much room. The key to loading up your suitcase smartly for any journey is by packing easy outfits that can be layered.  Even better if you have a few essentials--i.e. your fave pair of jeans, a great cardigan, a basic jacket--that can go with a multitude of looks. You can look up a ton of capsule closet ideas online that piece together no brainer items almost all of us have to create multiple cohesive outfits for even a two week, multi city trip. I usually try to fit in two basic tees, two basic tanks, a couple "fun" tops, a pair of jeans, a basic skirt (can be switched to shorts if you aren't a skirt person), a patterned skirt, a few basic dresses, a good little black dress for any evening excursions, a neutral cardigan, and a lightweight jacket (usually denim or leather).

Travel tip #4: The cardigan can double as your in-flight sweater to save room in you luggage. Dear lord, whatever you do, don't forget your under-garments! Luckily, most suitcases are designed with a compression pocket for your unmentionables, so they definitely won't take up too much space. I also always bring a swimsuit, because you never know if you'll end up meeting an attractive local who takes you to the outdoor hot springs of your dreams. This list doesn't include any trips that are extremely weather sensitive. Hot locales will need way more swimsuit and short options than I've allotted, and conversely places with a temp that is closer to freezing require actual sweaters and a big jacket Again, a no-brainer tip would be to wear your big jacket on the plane, so it doesn't take up a ton of room in the suitcase, allowing you to cram a few more layers in.

Travel tip # 5: If you would like to bring a hat with you, but are afraid it might get crushed in your suitcase; use it like a packing cube and stuff that thing with a couple tops. It will ensure that your hat doesn't get squashed, and it's a good use of space! 

Now that you've gotten together what you will wear on the plane, and laid out outfit ideas for your trip, what kind of luggage are you bringing with to fit it all in? Typically, my go to is a "bigger" carry-on, and a backpack that doubles as my "personal item".

Travel tip # 6: By foregoing traveling with a large suitcase you don't have to spend extra money on baggage fees, and it should help keep you from over-packing. I have a wheeled carry-on from Away that I love, and bonus, it has a built in portable charger that will make life infinitely easier--especially if your sense of direction is as awful as mine, and you rely on your phone's GPS like it's the map to the Holy Grail. You can actually fit a TON of items in a good sized carry-on bag, if you configure everything right. I suggest investing in a set of packing cubes (found easily on Amazon Prime) and folding your clothes using the Marie Kondo method (come on, you knew it was coming). The combination of folding your items into small, flat rectangles and then utilizing the space saving cubes will ensure that everything you need fits. Leaving extra room for the important stuff: i.e. shoes and accessories. Personally, I like to bring a travel backpack as my "personal" item. Remember we are trying to fit everything in a carry-on bag that can go in the overhead bin, so you'll need something that passes the under the seat regulations for any other bags you might bring. You can find quite a few online that have a ton of pockets and space to slot all of your items you want ready access to in-flight. Bonus: a lot of "travel" backpacks have a sleeve on the back that slots right over the handle of your carry-on, so you won't have to schlep that baby over your shoulder walking through the airport. Think enough space for a book, some water, a tablet, your toiletries, and a travel rain jacket (they fold up super small and are convenient if you step off the plane into a downpour).

Travel Tip #7: Make sure your toiletries fit the requirements for flying, and stick them in your personal item for easy access when you go through security. No one wants to wait for  you to unzip your full carry-on to get your travel toothpaste out. 

   Bon Voyage! Auf Wiedersehen! Hopefully, some of these tips aid you in your quest to being an efficient packer! I also hope wherever you travel is as amazing as the Instagram pics make it look!! CIAO!



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