What are my 6 essential steps to consider when packing for trips? Whether vacation or work I use this 6 step process to ensure that I pack as well as I possibly can.
Tomorrow I set out on my next adventure, for a week in Mexico City for the AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) conference and then onto Los Angeles for a couple of weeks.
The question is always what to pack, and yes, it stresses me out, just as much as packing stresses most people out. Sure I’ve got some extra tricks up my sleeve, but it’s the unknown that makes it hardest.
What You May Not Really Know When Packing
When you’ve never been to a place, you don’t really know:
- what the weather is really like (Will it be humid or dry? Will it be the high temperature all day or just for a few minutes?)
- how the locals dress (I like to blend in)
- when I’ll next get to do any washing (I may need to take more than I’d like if I don’t have access to washing facilities)
- how my feet will behave (shoes that are normally comfortable suddenly give me blisters when I travel)
- does each destination have similar or different requirements
It’s much easier to pack for a destination you’ve been to before than a totally new one and for one destination over two (or more).
How to plan what to pack?
Consider what you’re doing while away.
For me on this trip I know that image consultants conferences are not a place to dress down, particularly if you’re presenting (and I will be the focus of attention at a couple of sessions at conference).
There will be a variety of events to attend and people get changed at conference too, so I tend to need something different in the evening than during the day.
Then going from Mexico to Los Angeles the requirements will be different. I won’t need the formality of clothes I need for conference so what will I be doing there and what do I need to take?
My Packing Process
1 Create a Schedule
The first thing I do is create a schedule of what I know I’ll be doing, this way I can see more clearly what I might need to pack.
2 First Pass Pull
Then I pull from my wardrobe onto a clothing rack. I start thinking about a wardrobe capsules based around the weather and events.
3 Try Everything On
This is so critical (I’ve missed doing this before and paid the price by taking things that didn’t really go together in the way I’d hoped) as you can see if items still fit, work together and that you have options to layer up if you need to (air-conditioning, not really knowing what the weather will be).
You will discover items that don’t work and then find others in your wardrobe that will work better during this trying everything on phase. Putting together combinations and seeing how many combinations you can make from each garment will mean that you get a versatile wardrobe of outfits that doesn’t have you needing a Sherpa to carry all your luggage. At this point I may add in some garments and remove others until I get a good capsule style wardrobe that fits my needs.
Once you’ve got the clothes sorted it’s time to make sure that you get the accessories right.
Try on your shoes with the outfits you’ve created. Shoes are heavy so you want to find the most versatile (and in my experience, comfortable) shoes you own that will work with as much of what you’re packing as you can. I will always pack a pair of heels for more formal occasions (but the most comfortable ones I own), and 2-3 of pairs of flats that are easy to walk in for long periods as I know that my feet often expand when I go from a cool climate to a hot one, and shoes that are normally comfortable suddenly become uncomfortable and give me blisters.
Then onto the other accessories, necklaces, scarves, bracelets, rings etc. Particularly if you’ve backed some basic outfits these are needed (and take up not a lot of room) to add that vital focal point and interest to your outfit.
6 Create a Plan and Chart
Once I’ve got all my outfits and accessories sorted out, I then create a plan with my packing charts, fairly broad, but I write down outfits I think I’ll want to wear for each occasion on my travel calendar. That way I can see if I’m over or under packing. It then allows me to edit a little more plus also, it means that when I get to my destination I don’t have to think too much each day about what I’m going to wear. Of course, knowing me, I know that I’ll change my mind and mix up the outfits I’ve planned sometimes.
You can find my packing charts in my ebook Travelling Light plus lots more tips on packing.