You Should Know How to Do This: Packing Like an Adult

I have zero– and I truly mean zero– patience for bad travelers. Like picky eating, I consider it to be a stain on your good name. The worst subset of these people are the ones who keep the Rome Olive Garden in business, and the second-worst are the ones who can’t figure out how to be on a plane (DO NOT EAT TUNA SALAD), but the third worst is the group that can’t pack at all. I am here to help you, bad packers.

Behold: a carry-on with the things for a 10 day trip to 3 radically different climates. You can do this.
Behold: a carry-on with the things for a 10 day trip to 3 radically different climates. You can do this.

Help me help you. Your life is about to be so much better.The first thing you have to do, lady or gentleman, is choose your color palette. If you’re going on a business trip, things get a little more complex for those of us who choose to wear suits in professional contexts, but OTHERWISE, this is a fail safe system.

Fake step one is to put on the Savage Love Cast. The episodes are an hour long, and this is exactly how long this should take you, no exceptions. If it takes you more than an hour, you’re doing it wrong. Also, you’ll be a better person after you listen to Uncle Dan’s advice.

 REAL step one is to pick your neutrals. You know you better than I know you, so whatever you pick is fine, but I go with black and white. My aunt always chooses tan and chocolate, and my best friend Justin seems to favor a lot of navy and putty. It really doesn’t matter. At all. Just pick, and stick to it.

The next step is to pick some colors. I did bright red (my signature color, please imagine me saying it JUST LIKE THIS only with a real Southern accent and not a fake one), cobalt blue, and a light shade of teal. If you used a tool like this, you’d be able to figure out what looks good next to each other. I wish I could export these palettes, but you get the idea.

Start laying out your ish. I am serious about sticking to your colors. If you find yourself bringing stuff that isn’t on the approved color list, do what you must. As a rule, knits are better than wovens for packing, but you can always hang things up while you shower if it gets wrinkly. Also, everyone knows you have been traveling and won’t be a jerk about wrinkles.

It ain't all gonna make the cut.
It ain’t all gonna make the cut. Marimekko bedspread and tiny dog companion optional.

At this juncture, you should have a good idea about your shoes. A word about those: you can have three pairs, including the ones you are wearing. I’m serious. I am really serious. This is for your own good, okay, kid? Being ruthless about shoes is what separates the men from the boys or the goats from the lambs or whatever.  Pro tip: wear the biggest ones on the plane/in the car.

Edit down, make a list if you have to, and then start packing into your suitcase. If you’re serious about packing light, bring underwear you want to throw away and then don’t bring it home. Either way, underwear and socks and whatever get balled up and pushed in your shoe. Every inch counts. Your shoes go in first. Fill in gaps around them with your toiletry case, belts, scarves, tights, socks, or whatever else you need. Tightly roll each top, sweater, dress, pant, skirt, or whatever, then pack them into your suitcase. Put your bulky things on the bottom, or better yet, don’t bring them. Three thin sweaters take up less space than one big one, and layering will keep you just as warm.

Halfway point. Look how capacious!
Halfway point. Look how capacious!

I mean, really. I still have a full third of that suitcase AND I am almost finished. AND no TSA regulations have been violated because I stockpiles sample sizes of things and pack up the most baller travel toiletries.
The last thing you need to do is figure out what else you need, because you may as well use that space. I decided to bring a tote bag that could be used for picnics in Muir Woods or for dirty laundry or for a jaunt to the farmer’s market, a small purse for every day, and an extra sweater. The tiny “K” thing you see is for my jewelry, and I do that because I will lose every earring back ever. Pro tip, no. 2: bring only clothes and stuff you love to wear, but don’t bring anything you can’t replace, because that will be the time the airline loses your bag and I will buy your grandmother’s engagement ring.

No strain at all. I am just going to zip it up.
No strain at all. I am just going to zip it up.

And you are ready. Get a good luggage tag and go on vacation. Wear your big shoes and your light jacket on the plane. Have fun.

I swear to God that I have in there clothes for: nightclubs in Vegas, the beach, Per Se, an engagement party, hiking, riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, a concert, and a Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies class. If I can do that, you can figure out how not to pack six bags for an overnight trip to the next town over.

4 Replies to “You Should Know How to Do This: Packing Like an Adult”

  1. Great post. I would be a little more specific in what to pack, though. Pack one dressy and one set of walking shoes. Pack 2 bottoms (cause no one looks at the bottom part) Pack around 4 tops. Its better if they can be layered with each other. One of the tops should be “dressy” for nights out. I like to add in a dark classic dress that I can dress up or down. Add in a couple of sweaters and a light rain-proof jacket. Done!

    And you’re right. This should only fill up around half the suitcase at most. If your carry on is stuffed to the gills then something is not right.

  2. Rather than learn from you about what to do, I would like to continue to have you come to my house and pack my suitcase every time it needs packing. kthx.

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