After so many trips, I mastered the most efficient way to pack for myself. It starts with a good suitcase.
My suitcase is the Kirkland brand from costco. I like it because there are two exterior pockets. I use one for all my shoes and the other for my really dirty garments. This suitcase also expands. I never pack the suitcase in it's expanded mode because I want to save some space should I go shopping. I nearly always go home with it expanded. (When it's expanded, it doesn't always fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane.) I always leave a TSA combination lock on it whether or not I'm using it because I tend to lose things. I ALWAYS use the lock when I'm checking in this piece of luggage.
Below is inside lid of my suitcase. The Kirkland suitcase has all these pockets which I love. There's this mesh part that unzips open. - I keep an extra tote incase I'm out and about and need a larger purse. - There is a scarf in case it gets cold. I find this black and white patterned one works with all my outfits. I love a good pattern. - Three baggu bags. I prefer to use these when I go shopping because sometimes stores give you shopping bags that rip or are awkward to hold. They're cuter and they fit in my purse.
There's another zippered pocket behind all these goodies that holds my undergarments, swimsuit (I bring a swimsuit no matter where you are, no matter what the weather; you never know where a pool might be) and a lingerie laundry bag (in case I want to do laundry). I keep only clean garments in here, so at the end of a trip I don't empty this pocket out; when I pack for the next trip I just fill it with whatever I ran out of.
The main compartment where all the good stuff happens. Here are my tips:
- Use packing cubes. My packing cubes are both from Muji. Packing cubes help compress your clothes and keep everything organized. If you've traveled, you know it's really a hassle to take take one thing out of your suitcase, especially something at the bottom, because you need to take everything out to get to it. Which means you are constantly unpacking and repacking everything. With packing cubes, everything stays in it's place. The packing cubes I have, there is a top mesh compartment (to put your dirty clothes) and a bottom closed compartment. I start with both filled with dirty clothes, and as my trip progresses, move the dirty closes to the top mesh part
- Use this toiletry bag and small containers for liquids. Even when I had hair down to my bottom, I only used 3.5 oz of shampoo for a week's worth of showers. I only bring, nail polish, perfume, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, body wash and face wash. There's a loofa, razor, face cloth and toothbrush. It all fits in my little toiletry bag (which also has a hook to hang the bag when it's open). The toiletry bag stays in my suitcase even when I'm not traveling. I find it prevents forgetting something at home.
- The bottom of my suitcase is not flat. There are bars that run across it, so I put rolled clothes and small stuff to fill in between the bars.
- I really prefer not to roll clothes. The only time I'd roll all my clothes is when I'm camping. It's really a pain in the butt.
All these clothes fit in my packing cube. Can you imagine having to go through all this stuff just to look for one outfit? It's so much easier when it's all in a packing cube. In hot weather I find I like to wear dresses, so I pack a lot. I tend to like maxi dresses most. I don't prefer skirts because you have to bring a top, so that's more stuff to bring, but I brought that one skirt because it was a maxi skirt and I love maxis. When I pick my clothes, I don't really have that much in mind. I just kind of throw in things that I know I like. After I have all my clothes (including shorts and cardigans) chosen, I go through and take out ones that definitely no not match with anything. I like a lot of pattern, so I keep my purses, shorts and cardigans fairly neutral. There's one nice dress and tank top just in case I go out to a nice place. I really like dress shirts, so I bring one always.
If my clothes can't fit in my packing cube, I start to edit my wardrobe. I'll be here for 16 days, so I definitely don't need this many clothes. I should have brought a lot less, but I packed last minute and didn't edit my outfits. In my opinion, don't bring new clothes on a trip; you don't know if you may not like it or it hangs funny on you.
I tend to read a lot when I'm in New York, so I brought a lot of books. I probably should have only brought four. Oh well. There's a california driver's handbook in there. :) I try not to bring hardcover books, but I couldn't resist "The Long Walk". I pack my books in ziplock bags. I have a thing about messing up books (even though most of these are used).
Colored shorts really make my outfits happy. I bring a neutral for all the other loud, colorful patterned tops I have. That army green light jacket is the perfect summer piece. It's warm enough for the evening and light enough for the day. It also matches EVERYTHING I've brought. It's really the best.
Every girl should bring an extra bag. This puma bag is perfect. There's a lot of times I buy too much and don't have enough space even in my expanded suitcase, so this puma bag comes in handy for an extra piece of luggage. It rolls up small but can carry a lot.
There's definitely a method to my madness, even the choice of purses. The yellow bag is my camera bag. I'll need it for my shoots out here to carry all my gear, but I also like to bring a purse with some color. The brown bag is the perfect size for a water bottle, notebook, book, wallet and my phone. The black bag is deceptively small. It's good if I want to bring my big camera while I go about in the city. All three bags have shoulder and cross-body straps--a must for me because I'd lose my bag sometimes if I didn't have a cross-body strap. Brown and black are good colored purses.
If I had more time to pack, I picked all my clothes in a black-matching or brown-matching color scheme.
This is pretty self-explanatory. In that little clear misc box, I have safety pins, bobby pins, nail clipper, tweezers, rubber bans, brooches, earrings, key ring, earplugs.
Most of my shoes for summer are very flat, so I have the luxury of bring a lot. When I'm in transit, I always where flipflops because I don't like to have shoes on when I sleep on the plane and it's easier to go through security with flip flops. I have a range of casual and "fancy" flips flops. The toms are for activities that I need good foot support. The pink flats are for when I want to be extra girly.
I wear a lot of pattern for the most part, so that black necklace, white flower and the green necklace (in another pic) work well for that. The pink and blue necklaces are great for my black and solid-colored outfits. I like to wear cardigans, as it gets really cold inside the buildings, black, gray and blue leopard! This belt is used only for belting dresses and tops.
Recently a lot of my trips were for work, so I invested in this incase bag. It fits ALL my camera gear and computer equipment. The camera gear compartment is in the back and the computer compartment is in the front. It also fits under the seat in front of me when I fly. The empty spot in the camera compartment is for my second camera body with a lens on it. Usually I have two extra flashes in this bag, but I didn't need it for this trip.
I keep all the things below in the front. I have a total of four drives (two drives are in the black case) to work off of and to back up. I keep a book in the bag at all times, in case I find myself without a book for some reason. And I keep a necklace in it in case I need some sprucing for my outfit.
Most of these things stay in my suitcase. My bags are literally always packed! So... That's my packing!! Let me know if you have any questions!