Weekend-Getaway Packing Tips & Tricks: The Suitcase

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Suitcase.

If you missed toiletries read about it here.

I used to be a chronic over-packer. I would fret and panic over things like the weather, activities, and other random events that might require four seasons worth of clothing.  This resulted in an over-stuffed, disorganized nightmare of a suitcase.  I never had enough room for the things I needed and ended up frustrated and tired from riffling through hills of voluminous fabric spilling from my luggage. 

Dozens of domestic trips and four overseas vacations have cured me of the sausage-suitcase blues.
Here are my packing rules for a weekend getaway:

1. Ignore the 'What-Ifs'.  That's right. Ignore them. I usually check the weather a day or two before I leave and pack accordingly.  I have learned to cast aside fears of freak heat-waves or monsoons and oh the freedom! I knew NYC was going to be cool and crisp this weekend so I packed in layers. A lightweight trench and separates that could easily be taken on or off. No rain jacket, no shorts, no hiking boots; no wetsuit. ;)

2. Use Space Bags.  I bought a set of these at Target a few years ago and love them. I roll up my clothes {helps to keep them from over-wrinkling} and insert them into the bag. Then I sit {you can also lie or roll it up} on the bag and my weight forces the extra air out via a one-way valve. The result is a flattened, condensed, air-tight clothing sack {it also comes in handy if/when some liquid bursts in the suitcase, saving clothes from disaster...not that that's ever happened}. I even use them to store my dirty clothes because I hate having to fold or pack my dirty clothes next to the clean ones.  Now I toss my dirty clothes in one of the space bags. It keeps them separated during the trip and makes unpacking a breeze when I get home.

3. Don't forget the crevices.  I roll up my socks and undies and put them into my shoes. I use the space at the bottom of the suitcase {you know...in between the support posts for the pull-out handle} for other small, flat items. I'm always on the look-out for hidden spots to stick things.

4. Plan outfits.  I am a planner...sometimes to a fault. It can make me inflexible and resistant to spur-of-the moment changes...not because they're bad...but simply because they aren't a part of the plan. But planning my outfits is one way this little sickness of mine is beneficial. I use a note-pad to write out everything I'll need...and I stick to it.  For this 3 day trip I packed 4 outfits (one that was never-used but gave me flexibility should I spill something or step in a huge puddle). See "what I wore" below. 

5. Make lists.  One main reason I used to over-pack was a fear of forgetting something. I now combat this by having a master-list of things needed for every trip.  I start w/ the daily essentials - (toothbrush/paste, face wash, deodorant, make-up, hair stuff, outfit, wallet, etc.). Then I make a list of things specifically for this trip (weather-related items, itinerary, shoes, technology [phone, chargers, adaptors, kindle, laptop; camera], feminine items, important documents, etc.).  I typically keep the master-list in my handy-dandy notebook but the day before I make sure to write out items that have to be packed last minute (phone, toiletries, etc.) on my bathroom mirror.  I use a dry-erase marker and wipe them off as I pack.  It's super helpful.

What I Wore in NYC

No doubt the items that take up the most room in any suitcase are clothes. To save as much space as possible I try and pack a few pieces that are easily mixed and matched to create different looks. 

Here's what I packed for our fall trip to NYC:
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 dark, 1 light)
  • 2 dresses (1 dark, 1 light)
  • 2 cardigans (1 long, 1 regular)
  • 2 shirts (1 button-down, 1 layering T)
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 2 T-shirts for sleeping
  • 1 pair lounge pants
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 3 undies
  • 2 bras
  • 1 lightweight trench
  • 2 pairs of shoes (1 boot, 1 flat)

That's it. (And I didn't even wear it all.)
I also had enough room in my carry-ons for the goodies I bought {remember: no checked baggage this trip}.

Tomorrow's post: NYC Day 1

What are your favorite suitcase packing tips for weekend trips?


  1. Great tips! I hope you had an awesome time. :) I also hate packing dirty clothes next to clean clothes. It grosses me out.

    Definitely didn't know that about the credit card thing. I guess better safe than sorry, right? The first time we went to NYC, my mom was super paranoid and made us pin our pockets shut and freaked out if we looked the least bit "touristy" like if we unfolded the map so that people could actually see it as opposed to hiding it discreetly in the fanny pack. It has sort of become a joke now. :)

  2. Yep, those thieves have hand-held gadgets that just scan your bag/pocket and it automatically gives them your CC number. They have special wallets you can buy to protect yourself but they're pricey and foil works just as well.

    Haha. You're mom sounds so sweet. Pinning your pockets shut...sooo cute! Bet it makes for some great family laughs now though. :)


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