Pack Smart for Long and Short Trips

April 13, 2011

Her bag isn't bigger on the inside. It just seems that way.

When it comes to packing your clothes, how do you roll?

Lengthwise, top to bottom, one pant leg at a time?

A recent New York Times article gave tips from flight attendant Heather Poole on how she packs enough into her carry-on bag to last 10 days. Who would know more about packing than someone who flies for a living, right?

Her main tip is to roll clothes, don’t fold them. I started rolling my clothes a few years ago, after seeing the tip on “Oprah” (What? She can be helpful sometimes.) and it’s served me well across Europe and Australia.

Rolling reduces wrinkles, makes the most of your space, and whenever I pick up a fragile souvenir, I find putting it in between my rolled clothes gives it good protection for the journey home.

This bag might actually be bigger on the inside.

Other things you might want to try when packing (based on my own trial and error):

1. Put your socks, underwear, gloves and other small clothing items into big zip bags. If you have to find clothes in a hostel, in the dark, it will be easier to reach in your bag and find one big plastic bag than to hunt for two matching socks that have gone their separate ways.

2. Pack a couple of empty plastic bags when you begin and use them for dirty laundry or wet towels as you go. It will keep your clean clothes from being tainted by travel grime and when you have time to do laundry, you just have to grab the “dirty” bag and go.

3. Plan mix-and-match outfits. No matter how cute that one top is, if it only goes with that one skirt and one pair of shoes, forget it. If you can bring maybe five tops and three bottoms that all work together, you can layer and swap items so that you aren’t always wearing the exact same thing, but aren’t lugging around your full closet either.

4. Keep your itinerary in mind. If you’re hitting London, Paris and Barcelona just to party, then bring the club clothes, the big makeup bag, the curling iron, the cute heels and whatever else you need to have a good time. But if your plan is to hike and camp for 90% of your trip, with just a few nights out, then leave them at home. Anything you might only use once or twice isn’t worth its weight in your bag.

What are your best packing tips?


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