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How to Pack Like a Travel Belle Pro

Another Travel Belle’s tips on how to pack a suitcase (because, hey, we’re all different, and the challenge of packing is never-ending)

Even if you are a person who “needs” two huge suitcases and a portable jewelry box to go away for the weekend, there is hope. Think small, portable and cute. A carry-on size bag with wheels is really all you need to travel for a month or two.

If you plan on bringing a lot of things back with you, buy a cheap bag there for the return trip. Or perhaps you’re an Ethnotek kind of Travel Belle.

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1. Organize the clothes you think you will need piles on the bed – shirts, jeans, dresses. Stick to easy color schemes – black and white or green and grey – because it makes the process easier. Keep accessories to a minimum. (depending upon where you are headed as a nod to travel fashion, many Travel Belles don’t leave home without a little black travel dress.)

2. Discard half of each pile. It will take determination, but it can be done. Stay focused on what you really need, not what you want to take. Repeat this step until you are down to where you can fit everything into the carry-on bag with some room to spare. Rolled clothes take up less space and don’t require as much ironing.

3. Use the rule ‘”two outfits” and “something acceptable to go out in.” If you are staying in a 5-star hotel you can afford to send things out to be cleaned. If you are backpacking in a hostel, you can wash one outfit and wear the other. If you suddenly end up with an invitation to a spectacular see-and-be-seen party you can always buy something from Saks or at a second-hand shop, as the budget dictates. Even overseas – such as the middle of Nigeria or the north of Morocco — there are always places to buy used clothes.

4. Get mini-size bottles for shampoo, use a small tube of toothpaste and take only the cosmetics you need. Check department stores for trial sizes. If you run out of body lotion on your trip, buy the smallest bottle possible, refill yours and give the remains to somebody who will use it, like the woman who cleans your room.

5. Plan on wearing or carrying your coat or jacket as it takes up too much room to pack.

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Bonus Belle Tip on how to pack a suitcase: Invest in a large computer bag or serious handbag with an across-the-body-strap for your laptop, camera and other valuables.

Warning: You may become a bit smug about people lined up waiting for their suitcase, as you sail by to begin your light-luggage travel style.

*Photos by and property of the author.

This article has 9 comments

  1. Sara

    What a great blog you have! I am going to share your link on my blog. This is great advice! I am forever struggling with getting my extra-large suitcase closed! I look forward to reading more.-Sara

  2. Cailin

    I always have so many “what ifs” so I bring like 3 different types of shoes because what if i suddenly need to go for a hike or a run!? (both things that I never do…. but what if?!) and I also want to avoid washing as often as possible but I guess that is just my own issue and I could do it more often haha
    I’m getting better at it though, I just did a four day trip with a small carrying on and could of lasted a week – but a whole month! wow! haha
    thanks for the tips 🙂

  3. Heather

    Great tips, Jody! Looking forward to packing for my next trip!

  4. Debbie @ European Travelista

    Packing is always a touchy subject. I always make a list of the items I want to bring. I figure I can wear bottoms 3 x and shirts twice. So its easy math to calculate how much of each to bring along. Of course, this is for a 2-3 week trip and I don’t do any washing during this time frame.

  5. Bobbi Lerman

    I have been traveling since I was 16, and I can’t tell you how often I wish I could go back to that time when I somehow managed to travel anywhere with one backpack. Now, I seem to take too many things that in the end I don’t need.
    I’m going to keep this article taped to my “small” carry on suitcase!

    Bobbi

  6. Nomadic Samuel

    Discard half of each pile is a fantastic tip! Even though I’m more of a backpacker I try to do the same. It always seems to be a tendency for somebody to over-pack than to not bring enough stuff with them.

  7. Krista

    EXCELLENT advice!! I just returned from a two-day trip and for one of the first times ever really, truly only packed what I needed and used everything I brought. Hooray! 🙂

  8. Cheryl-Anne Millsap

    I travel with black microfiber slacks that can be washed and dried overnight. I can dress them up or down as needed. Jeans are too heavy and can look out of place.

  9. Mary Jo Manzanares

    I agree with packing light, but part of what allows me to do that is bringing accessories. In the space in takes for another shirt or pair of pants, I can bring multiple scarves and costume jewelry to dress up or down what I’ve packed, liven up the look of black and white (my go-to basic colors), and look chicly pulled together in that European way. So I’m an advocate for not leaving out accessories.

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