Tips for Packing Your Suitcase to Travel Conveniently

After many trips of 2-5 weeks to international destinations I have settled on a great way to pack for the long haul, although each adventure is somewhat different.

Since I tend to travel in the late spring and fall, I run into changeable temperatures that vary from year to year and place to place. I start at least a week in advance so that I can get organized methodically. In the past, when I have packed hastily, I have taken too much and was totally disorganized. This is my plan for my 30 day trip I am about to take to Paris, the Loire Valley and London. This system works for shorter trips as well, just on a smaller scale.

Before you get started:

  1. Check the long range forecast for each destination. Accuweather’s long range forecast goes 15 days out. Weather is subject to change, but at least you can get an idea how changeable it could be in temperature and precipitation, depending on your destination(s).
  2. When you know how long you will be gone, ask yourself “How many pieces of clothing and footwear would I realistically wear if I were home for this time frame?”  This one question puts things into perspective for me. 
  3. If you don’t have one, a rolling rack is perfect (Target has them) to hang the clothing you want to take so you can see it all laid out. Do I have too much?Do my tops and bottoms make sense? (If I can’t wear a top with each of my bottoms, it stays home) Not enough? Count how many tops you have. If you have 30 or more for a 10 day trip, you have way too many! You can always wash things if you are staying in a place more than one night. This photo shows what I am packing in the cubes for this specific 30 day trip.IMG_7148
  4. What bag is best? I prefer a four-wheeled bag for easy maneuvering, but two wheels are better than none! My go to long haul bag is from Mandarina Duck that I purchased in Avignon, France as a replacement for a damaged bag. It comes with a matching laundry bag and shoe bag in the smaller exterior pouch. I love this very functional bag.  IMG_7146
  5. For me, this is the key…I use packing cubes that have a top handle. There are many readily available on the market, but I prefer La Poché. I use plain white file folder labels to affix by the handle so you know the contents of each. (Tees, sweaters, lingerie, etc) FullSizeRenderFor a long trip I also use a compression bag for bottoms or outerwear, and bring an extra for the way home. The ones from Magellan’s are the best out there, in my opinion. IMG_7130

Time to Pack!

  1. Pack your heaviest items on the bottom – shoes – toiletries (unless you have a great outside pocket, as I do, for a hanging toiletry bag that you can insert in its unzipped position).  This makes the bag “bottom heavy” instead of “top heavy”.  I love my flat out hanging toiletry kit from TravelonIMG_7147
  2. IMG_7140
  3. I pack my shoes upright when possible and put extra toiletries, etc in them to save space.
  4. If I am taking a compression bag, I put bottoms or outerwear in one and take a spare for the return. It goes horizontally across the bottom. I also take a flat market tote and put it in the bottom, as I often am in foreign cities with great food markets. IMG_7138
  5. I pack the cubes by “classification” – tops. sweaters, tees, lingerie, bottoms, etc.
  6. I put my cubes in the bag vertically with the handles up, labeled, for easy access. I never pack my cubes horizontally. Very important! IMG_7137
  7. Any extra goodies I have go in the interior zipped compartment(s).
  8. My bags all have a large exterior pocket, where I put my unzipped toiletry kit, and my great Muji Foldable Boston BagIMG_7145 IMG_7144
  9. Always keep your meds, passport, small liquids, electronics and jewelry with you in your carry-on tote. I also pack a light pair of leggings and tee in my tote for the plane and for an emergency so I have something else to wear in the event my bag is lost.
  10. You can pack your meds/supplements in very small plastic pouches that can be found at CVS.IMG_7133
  11. If I take a belt, I either pack it in a shoe or boot or open it up and put it around the circumference of the bag.
  12. I also add a printed sheet with my passport, destination and contact info in case the bag gets lost. I also have a photo of my passport in my mobile devices. 
  13. Wear your heaviest top and pant, carry the heaviest coat or jacket, and wear your heaviest shoes or boots on the plane.

Other Tips:

  1. I make an inventory list of what is in my carry on tote for the plane and where I can easily find what I will need during the long flight.
  2. I always take a moisturizing facial mask, either a sample size or a paper one, to apply or wear while sleeping during the flight. Karuna makes great single-packaged masks with various benefits that you can get at Sephora.
  3. Buy Traveler’s Insurance. I use Travel Guard and have needed it a few times.

And to transport my wine home, I take my VinGardeValise!rsz_1rsz_vingardevalise_3-570x600


Organization is the key.

Bon Voyage! Santé!




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