So many of you have asked for my insider experience on how to pack light and efficiently. Well I’m nothing if not service-y, so I figured, give the people what they want. And, thus, What’s in My Bag, a series of how to pack for various trips and climates, was born (right here and now). First up: packing for fall-type weather.
This week had me ditching my warm weather duds—who am I kidding, it’s rarely warm in the Bay Area, at least in summer; I just flit around in sundresses, freezing my ass off and trying to fool myself—in lieu of fall and light winter wear. Where am I heading? Why, Australia in winter time, in fact. (Actually, I’m already here! Hi from the far reaches of Tasmania!)
If I can help it, my rule of thumb is to only take a carry-on bag. It saves the stress of losing your luggage and the cost of baggage fees if you’re not an elite member/you’re flying one of these crap airlines who charge $23 per bag (ahem, Delta, I’m looking at you). This time it was easy in the sense that I’m only going to be gone for nine days, making one small bag a viable option, but difficult as Tassie is quite windy and cool (highs in the mid-50’s, lows in the mid-40’s), so I need thicker duds that will keep me warm and, likewise, occupy more space in my bag. Still, it can be done. Observe.
I made this video as a tutorial, but as many of you read my blog from work, I also broke it down in writing below.
1. Dress in one color scheme. I usually pick one overall color family—in this case, gray; oftentimes, it’s tan/light brown—and match all outfits to it. This significantly cuts back on the number of shoes I have to take, which are the number one thing that weigh down my luggage. In this instance, I have one pair of flat gray boots that fold up rather nicely to wear over jeans during the day, one pair of silver-y pewter flats to dress up outfits for nighttime, and my gray TOMS to wear on the plane and around the city on days with a lot of walking. Ditto to accessories. Since I’ll be wearing all gray complements, this rules out gold jewelry entirely, and I can simply pack a pair or two of silver hoops and studs and one bracelet and wear them with all ensembles.
2. Layer. For this particular trip, when it’s going to be cooler than most and I’m going to be out and about in the thick of it, I brought two tees, two long-sleeved shirts that fit easily under the tees, two sweaters, two cardigans and a winter coat. All can be stacked and inter-mixed so I can get more wear out of the few items I brought and also won’t be cold as I always have another layer handy to throw on top. I don’t normally get dirty enough to need to wash things while traveling, but many hotels do offer laundry services so if I’m doing a lot of trekking, as was the case in Rwanda, I can always send my soiled duds out and have them back the next morning in time to wear again.
As far as on the bottom, I brought one pair of casual Gap jeans, another dark wash pair that can easily be dressed up, and a pin-striped denim skirt. Again, they all go with every top I brought, shoes too. I packed one dressy Language tank well suited for the dark jeans, and a dressier Anthropologie cardi for dinners. At the last minute—because I had minimal space to spare—I slipped in one thin Anthro dress (that match the pewter flats), just in case I decide to mix things up one evening. I am a newly converted jeans wearer, after all; going a week without a dress is comparable to a meth addict going a day without hitting the pipe.
3. Wear your bulkier items on the plane. I’m taking a wool pea coat for the 45-degree nights, and as I have zero room left in my bag for such heavy items. Airports and airplanes are always freezing anyway, so I’m more often than not happy to have it on me.
4. Go au naturel. Once I finally learned to leave the curling iron and straightener and make-up I never end up wearing in the first place, et al, at home, it freed up loads of space in my bag. You’re traveling! Go with it! You don’t need to look like an extra on The Hills. (Also, in this day and age, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hotel that doesn’t offer hair dryers, so you can be slightly high maintenance and still pack light.)
5. Skimp on the toiletries. Again, every hotel—whether two stars or five—offers shampoo and body wash and lotion and bars of soap, and restocks your room daily. Conditioner, on the other hand, is not always a given, so I leave the others at home and take a hotel-sized bottle (or two) of conditioner along with me in case. Insider tip: If you don’t want to surrender your liquids to the security belt, quite simply, don’t. Just hide them really well. Typically, I bury my toiletries in the middle of the bag to hide them from the X-ray (still ziplocked, just in case), and in the three years since the liquids rule went into effect, I have been caught all of once. Just sayin’: It saves you time.
Next up in the packing series: what to take and wear on the plane. Until then!