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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Packing Light for Any Length Trip

I went to Vegas to attend the Travel Goods Show again this year and I knew I would be coming back with more than I left with. Sometimes it's a small bag full and sometimes I come back with an entire new suitcase plus goodies.

These are the pieces I left home with. I knew I didn't want to check a bag, so I limited myself to a small carry-on and a personal item, but I also packed a spare bag in case I had to bring back items without a new suitcase given to me at the show. As a media person, you never know what's going to be included in your "goody bag". Last year I had tons of stuff and a Lojel carry-on bag to stuff it all in, but then I had three bags and had to check one. This year, I didn't want to make that mistake, but I got everything I needed in that small bag and purse.

Two pairs of pants

Wear one and pack one. They will take up the most space, plus you really only need two good pair. I brought skinny jeans with stretch that were dark and went with everything. They could be dressed up or be casual. The other pair were dark grey and I wore  them on the plane. Both have a high waist, which I found much more comfortable and forgiving.

Go for neutral, so your color palette is easy to work with. All your tops should match your bottoms, so you have multiple outfit combinations instead of just one full outfit per day. Wouldn't it be much simpler to leave with 6 things that can make 9 outfits rather than 18 pieces that do the same job and take up three times as much room?

Two pairs of shoes

Same idea as with the pants, wear one and pack one. Wear the bulkiest so you aren't wasting room. I wore a pair of Tom's that I love and know are super comfy, plus they slip on and off and accommodate swollen feet, should that be a problem.

I packed a pair of fancy flats that could be dressy and worn with jeans or a dress/skirt if I wanted to go out or had a media dinner last minute.

Again, make sure you bring shoes that match everything, because otherwise you're going to be mad and wish you'd packed more. And don't bring shoes that are brand new and not broken in. That's just a recipe for sadness. (Ask me how I know.)

4 tops

This is usually the max for me, and I basically just toss in #4 as a backup or for emergencies. I knew I'd be doing some touristy stuff outside of the show, so I packed a spare t-shirt, but other than that, I brought 3 semi dressy tops that worked for anything and made me look professional enough for the show while I was networking.

1 dress or skirt

Guys might want to throw in a tie and a dress shirt, but ladies can totally get by with one dress or one skirt (as long as it's a neutral that matches all the tops you brought).

This trip I brought an athletic dress that had pockets on the side. If it was cold, I could add a layer, but if it turned out warmer than expected, it wicks moisture and was sleeveless. It's all black and had pockets for business cards and my phone, so it's basically multi purpose.

I brought all the necessities along as well: 
  • snacks for the plane and for breakfast
  • my travel flat iron that also works as a curling iron
  • a few zip top bags just in case
  • undies (v important)
  • a smaller purse to use while in Vegas and at the show
  • extra business cards
  • my glasses
  • compression socks for the room after walking all day
  • that spare bag that has come in handy on my trip home
  • my portable keyboard for working a bit easier on my iPad
  • my toiletries and my liquids bag
  • the Flint lint roller
  • a t-shirt and running shorts I wear as pajamas
How did that all fit in this tiny bag? By rolling all my clothes so they took up less space (30-40% less!) and using every available space inside. This bag is basically a glorified packing cube, so I crammed in everything I absolutely couldn't live without and then stuffed other items in the empty space and crevices. This ensured that I couldn't bring more than necessary and my bag would be manageable and still fit under the airplane seat (with my purse). My photos show the progression on my packing.

What's in my purse?

I pack my purse or "personal item" with all the things I want to use on the plane, that way I don't have to pack and unpack my larger bag.
  • my battery backup and charging cords
  • iPad mini for work, games, reading and shows from my DVR
  • snacks for the plane
  • money and credit cards (and my ID for getting through security
  • a scarf/shawl/travel blanket
  • an essentials bag with lotion, ibuprofen, lip balm, lady things, etc. in it.
  • a pen (because you never know when you'll need one)
  • camera, though I didn't even use it on this trip, because I forgot it in my room the one full day I had out for sightseeing and my phone worked just as well, especially since I could upload my pics to the cloud and also use anything I took for social media posts

I've had enough practice that I can cram a lot of things into small spaces. I'm short, so stuffing a heavy bag into the overhead can be extremely difficult for me. When I travel alone I tend to pack lighter, so I don't have to ask anyone for help to get my bag over my head. When people are behind me, I panic slightly and really can't do it. 

Know your limits and ask yourself if the bag you've brought will be easy to carry through the airport, shove into the overhead, and drag several blocks outside if you have to (it happens). I've been through it enough to know what I can and can't carry and for how long. The lighter, the better, if you ask me.

Another reason to pack light is to save money. A checked bag averages $30 each way, which can be spent elsewhere on your trip to make it better. It's likely you don't know anyone on your trip, so they won't know you're wearing the same top as a few days ago. Had I been gone longer than 4 days, I would have packed the same items, but included a little bag of detergent to do laundry. In that case, my extra bag would have been perfect as a laundry bag to haul my dirty stuff to wash. Bonus, right?

What's your biggest challenge when trying to pack light?

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