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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

How to Pack for a Special Occasion Trip

Earlier this month, Eric and I took a weekend trip to San Francisco to celebrate one of his cousin's weddings. It was fairly short, in that we flew in Friday after work and flew home on Sunday, but we were able to see everyone we wanted and party for an evening and eve got in some sightseeing.

There are some circumstances where you have to attend a special event and you can't pack light, but if you're a wedding guest, you can pack light.

I hate wasting time on a short trip with waiting for a bag to come out of the carousel and I always worry if my bag will make it to my destination, so I don't chance it if I don't have to. I'm also into saving baggage fees for something more fun, like dining out. There are some circumstances where you have to attend a special event and you can't pack light, but if you're a guest at a wedding, you can still get everything you need in a carry-on and personal item. Here's how:

Invest in a weekender, or equivalent, with a garment bag

Unless you want to spend time ironing, which I definitely do not, having a bag that has a garment bag as part of it is a great way to travel with fancy dresses and suits. We have a Skyroll garment bag and roller bag for such occasions. We took the original Skyroll for this trip, since it was so short. It's not available anymore, it doesn't look, but you can get something similar at a reasonable price that is still carry-on size. Don't want to carry a bag? Here's a roller garment.

Roll your other clothes

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I'm a big believer in rolling clothes. This bag makes that easier to do, because it's already round, and it doesn't require a packing cube.

Day 1 - On the plane

Wear clothes on the plane you can re-wear at your destination

I almost always travel in a pair of black pants, because they go with everything and they can be dressed up or down, depending on what I'm doing. If we had gotten in earlier, we would have driven straight from the airport to the restaurant the family was doing dinner at. If it hadn't been St. Patrick's Day, we would have worn less nerdy shirts, but we got in too late and it was St. Patrick's Day, so we decided to have fun with it. I also wore my black cardigan that went with all my clothes, for the chill, and we both had rain jackets.

Morning - Day 2

Only bring two pairs of shoes

For this short trip, we both only had our special occasion shoes and the shoes we wore on the plane, but this is my usual rule for travel: bring a good pair of walking shoes and a dressy pair of walking shoes, like sandals or ballet flats for women and loafers or oxfords for men.

Day 3

Pack the bare bones

We were only gone for 2 1/2 days, and while we could have re-worn one of our shirts to travel back home, I still packed two shirts for each of us. Both shirts went with the pants and shoes we wore. When it comes to underwear, I make sure to pack a pair for each day and an extra pair, just in case. Normally, I don't take extras, because I have time to do laundry if I have to. The same goes for socks.

When it came to packing my toiletry bag, I do what I always do before each trip, I completely empty my bag and evaluate everything I have to take what I absolutely need. For this trip, I added a selection of bobby pins, some of which were decorative, and a second small eyeshadow palette with more classic colors for the wedding. 
Bag I purchased. It's still fairly small at 8"x8", but it held everything I needed.

(But) Don't forget the necessities

By this, I mean important things for the special occasion: essential undergarments, ties, a belt, jewelry. Anything you can wear on the plane is great, because that's one less thing you have to pack. I purchased a cute purse that I could use for the wedding, but also for walking around, and I packed it in my personal item and had the bare minimum in my Travelon compact sling* for on the plane. (*see my review here.)

I highly recommend a lint roller for fancy events. I have a Flint, which I love. It twists down to fit inside the roller, so the sticky part isn't exposed when you aren't using it. It has the best pick-up of any other roller I've ever used. You can buy refills for it, so it can last you for a long, long time.

Choose the right "personal item"

I have a lot of travel bags, but for this trip, I chose to bring along this expandable laptop bag that a friend bought me. You can use it for just your laptop and accessories, or you can expand it for a bigger backpack. This is where I stashed all our toiletries, charging cords, a wrap, snacks, and my laptop. Eric also carries a backpack with different snacks, his jacket, and usually a book he's in the middle of reading and headphones. We both have extra room in case we buy things at our destination.

Afternoon/Evening - Day 2

With a little bit of strategy, you can easily pack everyday wear with special occasion wear in just a carry-on and a personal item. This is the second time we've traveled for a wedding and had to bring along extra things, but we pack two people into one carry-on usually, unless we're going for longer trips, then we each have one. If we can do it, then you can do it. It just takes a little bit of practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and you learn what things are important and what things you can leave at home.

What's your biggest challenge for traveling for a special event/occasion?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that could result in monetary compensation for me should you make a purchase through them. This also allows me to keep this blog running, so thanks in advance!

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