Packing Light – Organizing Tips to Travel Light

I just posted a video on my YouTube channel: The Big Secret For an Organized Vacation.  And one of my Twitter followers posed the question:  “How do I travel and pack light?”

Most of us have been there at one time or another – one more of the O-factors – “Over-packed.”  So how can you downsize your baggage?  A loaded question, perhaps, but here’s a few simple wardrobe organizing tips to get you started, together with some all important suitcase space savers.

  • Make a Packing List:  I can’t stress this enough!  A client confessed to me once that whilst travelling with her husband on a business trip once, she slipped on her little black dress for dinner, only to discover that all she had were her pool sandals and a pair of sneakers.  Not cool! So have a basic needs list as well as an outfit list – don’t pack anything you can’t wear with at least 2 other items.
  • Color, color, color:  The color scheme you travel with can make the difference between a small suit case and a larger one.  If you chose tops in complimentary colors or different shades of the same color, wear them with black, neutral khaki or tan pants or skirt, you will be able to mix n match more easily. Knowing your colors – ie summer, spring, autumn or winter is a big help!
  • Accessorize to Maximize:  Just try this. Pull out a scarf, hat and some jewelry with 1 pant/skirt/suit/blazer, and a combination of 5 t-shirts/tanks/blouses and some well chosen accessories you can make a gazillion outfits.  OK, well maybe not a gazillion, but you get the idea. Vacationing requires more casual additions – shorts/sundresses – but numerous outfits can easily be created from a couple of basics. Practice is key.
  • Double Down:  Wear outfits twice. When traveling for business, seeing different folks, means you can wear the same outfit more than once.  But that also applies for vacationing – the fashion police are not keeping track – truly!  Pack a white cotton handkerchief so you can steam press suits/skirts/pants for that “newly dry-cleaned look.”
  • Layer for Warmth:  Another client travels to the UK regularly and swears that layering is the only way to go.  Each layer helps to traps body heat.  It works!  You’d be surprised how warm a tank, a T-shirt, a lightweight cardigan and a jacket can be, so instead of packing numerous heavy sweaters chose items you can layer.

Suitcase Space Savers:

  1. Stuff shoes/boots/purses with undergarments/socks/leggings/scarves/hats/small t-shirts. Traveling with your man? Try putting your ballet flats inside his shoes.
  2. Firmly roll clothes when packing, even several T-shirts together.  And take a few large and medium sized Ziploc bags to vacuum pack home bound dirties and make extra room for purchases.
  3. Since the USPS created their one rate box, shipping toiletries or heavier items ahead is a great idea, but make sure you can pick up or take a couple of flat boxes with you to return ship. They even have an international flat rate box.
  4. Taking an oversize t-shirt to sleep in? It can double as a poolside/beach cover-up.
  5. Always carry spot stain remover and sachets of travel detergent and wash underwear or quick dry tanks, camisoles and blouses. (Sponging excess water from washed clothes with towels increasing drying time.) I have one client who swears by her travel clothes line! Inflatable hangers are another interesting item to consider.  And don’t forget most hotels have 24hour turn around laundry/dry-cleaning service for more serious needs.

One last important tip!  Never, but never pack anything, “just in case” – it’s a slippery slope.  And, when you see there’s still room left in your luggage, resist the temptation to “just throw in one more thing.”

Bon Voyage!


  • Agree so much on all of this! Packing posts on my blog always seem to be the most popular so it’s obviously something many people (women in particular) seem to struggle with.

    My favorite layering tip is to pack a thermal long sleeved top outside the usual winter packing list. They pop easily under a long sleeved shirt and light jacket without bulk on either you or the bag! Means you don’t need heavy sweaters or fleeces that take up so much precious space in your bag!

  • I love the Container Store’s “PACK THIS!” list. Why make a packing list when they’ve done such a good job? It’s a memo pad of the list, so you can use one each time you travel. Sometimes, just rereading the list before I declare myself “packed” helps me remember that one stupid thing I forgot to put it. It’s saved me more than once!

  • Lisa Stanton Ovesny says:

    I always use a list when packing – if I don’t I can always count on forgetting something. 3 tips for making a list really work for you:

    1. Don’t make your list at the last moment. If you rush the list, you’re bound to forget something. Give yourself some time to think it through and review.

    2. Make sure your list includes a list of of your daily medications. Make sure you have enough before you leave!

    3. Bring your list with you and refer to it when packing up to come home. This has saved me countless times from leaving something behind.

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