This is our general packing guide in 5 easy steps and a good starting point, but we will occasionally post additional tips and ideas to supplement the basics.
See more on our packing philosophy at the end of this post if you’re interested, but for now, let’s just get started!
Our Five Easy Steps to Simple, Organized Packing:
. Make a list of what you will need to bring. See our packing list
to get you started. You can also make a packing list easily by keeping a copy of ours handy one day as you get ready for your day in the morning and as you get ready for bed – check to be sure each thing you use is on the list. Much more efficient and accurate to do alongside your normal routine.
Plan your outfits, using pieces more than once, including layers, and choosing items you can mix and match (more on this later). Put all the outfit components on the list or next to the suitcase. Packing without a list and an outfit plan leads to over-packing.
3. GATHER. Start gathering your to-pack items near your suitcase so you have a sense of what will fit as you go. Choose a clear spot of floor or other surface where your to-pack items will not get mixed up with other household items.
4. ESSENTIALS In. Put your toiletry kit, along with any other must-haves, into the suitcase to get a sense of remaining space. That way you can adjust the flexible, non-essential items you have chosen as you go. (FYI: We’ll have a separate, toiletry kit packing discussion in an upcoming post.)
5. ROLL and Pack. There are many discussions of the best way to pack…folding, rolling, bundling…we’ve tried them all. We found the most success with the rolling/packing cube method.
First, rolling saves the most space while keeping wrinkles to a minimum. However, a suitcase full of rolled items is still chaos. If not packed tightly, things will shift during your travels. There is also the tendency to “dig” through when looking for a particular item, which makes a mess
. It is also difficult to move things around and to re-pack at the end of the trip. By rolling items and then placing them into packing cubes
, you get all the benefits of rolling, without the chaotic drawbacks
. (More info on packing cubes here.)
1) Most packing cubes have mesh tops, so you can see what is inside. 2) Use a packing folder for items that don’t roll well. 3) Use wet-resistant containers to keep mud and dirt from shoes and other items off of your other belongings. This is actually leftover packaging from bedding we purchased, re-purposed as a packing cube. 4) You can also purchase packing pouches and cubes specially designed for holding wet items like these bathing suits. 5) Roll items like socks and ties and put them in your shoes to save space. Helps shoes keep their shape and provides some protection from wrinkles for items like ties. 6) Use small packing cubes for items like socks and underwear. 7) Have a variety of packing cube sizes on hand. This larger size works well for tee-shirts and jeans.
Get creative with arranging items in the cubes! For example, you can pack by item (e.g., all shirts in one cube). You can also pack one outfit per cube and put in your luggage in the order you will wear them – this is handy when you’re staying in a different place each night to avoid too much unpacking. However, if you’re reusing outfit items, this gets tough. Families can divide items up into a cube per person. It is helpful to have cubes of different colors and sizes for flexibility (e.g., shirts in the red cube and socks in the blue cube, or Jack’s clothes in red cubes and Jill’s clothes in blue cubes).
Need a helpful reminder for the above steps? The acronym for the above is LIGER (Luggage, Itemize, Gather, Essentials, Roll). “It’s pretty much our favorite packing method.”
Our Packing Philosophy:
We agree with the current “minimalist packing” and “carry-on only” trends…mostly and to a point. We do believe you should (and can) pack lightly, because it makes your journey cheaper, easier, and more comfortable. However, there will sometimes be items that are worth the extra space because they make you feel more comfortable or at ease on your trip. Packing lightly to the point of discomfort is not worth it. Fortunately, we believe (and have proven in our own journeys) that you can balance “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” packing tendencies with an easy, breezy, carry-on only approach.
For what it’s worth, we are caught between these two worlds. We are risk-averse, prepared-for-anything type of people, so when we started traveling, we brought an absolutely embarrassing amount of stuff. Now, people regularly remark on how little luggage we bring when we travel, and we have not checked a single bag in six years
. At the same time, we feel comfortable on our trips and do not feel we’re missing anything. We have done 10 day, multi-climate business trips with carry-on luggage only (to the awe of our colleagues). We even did a multi-country, two-week European trip with only one carry-on each (even more impressive when you consider one of us lost 3/4 of his carry-on space to a heavy pair of genuine, leather, Bavarian lederhosen – if you’re going to do Oktoberfest, do it right, right?!). In fact, we just did a week-long summer trip in the LeSportsac weekender
for one of us and the Herschel duffel
for the other (both shown in first picture above).
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