Not sure what to pack? Do you put off even thinking about it? This post will help you organize your thoughts, and pack like a pro. I’ve included a free printable packing list! Not only that, I’ve got you covered for weekend travel, overseas travel, and I even have a cruise packing list!
Packing, packing, packing! Everyone dreads the ordeal. Many of us can’t begin our trip without a plan, and I’m sure you find the most difficult part of planning a trip (far more difficult than planning your itinerary) is, “What will I wear if it is four days in the Big Apple, a ten-day cruise, or two weeks in Europe?!”
You can read about my latest adventure when we traveled to East Africa at long last, here!
I recall a trip my Ultimate Concierge and I took just before COVID struck. For so long, we were not able to travel and I wished I could pack, pack, pack! I missed the, “Just a minute, I forgot something!” And, I miss the ‘ordeal’ of making my lists, planning my outfits, clearing my calendar. Darling, I missed looking forward!
Let’s Travel Back
So, I decided to reminisce about the last trip we took before COVID-19 hit. I was packing my suitcase for four days in the Big Apple, for business and pleasure. I accompanied my husband, who is part of an NGO under the real estate umbrella of the United Nations, to a luncheon and business meeting at the UN. Business attire was called for. That evening we attended an intimate cocktail party at the home of a friend and went on to an Italian bistro for dinner. We were with the same people so naturally, being girly, I wanted to pack different looks.
The next day we shopped, and that evening the two of us dined, alone, at La Grenouille, the most glamorous, gorgeous, and intimate restaurant in Manhattan. It’s French, with the decor of gigantic bouquets of flowers, and crystal light fixtures, and it is beyond romantic. The crowd adds to the elegance. I dressed for the occasion, darling.
Packing Is Made Easy By The Adventure That Lies Ahead
There is no doubt, packing is an ordeal made palatable by the adventure that lies ahead. The hardest part of packing is opening my closet door and thinking to myself, “Now what.” The easiest part is putting my clothing into a suitcase.
For that specific New York trip, I packed one elegant black suit for dinner at La Grenouille, with a silver clasp at the waist and a sheer black top underneath. For the luncheon, a pair of black trousers with an interesting top that was not a jacket but gave my outfit a suit look. And for shopping, the same black trousers with a grey wool Wolford bodysuit and the same sheer grey black and white sleeveless top over it to give it a different look.
I packed one pair of shoes for four days! Black suede platform half boots that were comfortable. That was it. Of course, I needed great earrings, an evening bag, and my trademark silver and gold neckpieces as well as lots of undies, feminine nightwear, and a raincoat and umbrella. Voila! Done.
My Packing Routine & Rules of Thumb
I have my personal packing routine down to a science and it is guaranteed to work.
CARRY-ON: The 1st rule of thumb is to pack all medications, jewelry, belts, good evening handbags, laptops, chargers for your phone, a set of undies, small amounts of makeup, and a great novel in your carry-on. Baggage gets lost and good items may disappear from your luggage.
CHECKED LUGGAGE: The 2nd rule of thumb is to pack all outfits (I pack for my husband,) on hangers and cover them with plastic dry cleaner bags. Upon arrival, all outfits are removed from their plastic bags and hung in the closet.
I pack all of my folded undies in plastic bags I get at the Container Store but you can also get them on Amazon. Once at the hotel, they come out of the suitcase and go into the drawer. This is my trick for not taking each item out at a time. Too time-consuming and frustrating. I want to go out and explore, not refold my undies.
Then, my sweaters go into see-through plastic bags that come in all sizes, my shoes go into see-through baggies, and my cosmetics are in a hanging clear long cosmetic bag that I can hang in the bathroom on a bathroom hook. I have girlfriends that pack their cosmetics in small see-through bags and then store them in a larger cosmetic bag. Not for me. I prefer to see everything in plastic in front of me.
Because of my routine, it takes little time to unpack my clothing. In plastic, they do not wrinkle.
Things I Always Pack
- Red Kabbalah Strings, our lucky charm, to guard and protect us in case ours fall off.
- My 27-year-old leather Chanel backpack. Hands-free everywhere!
- Tinted sunscreen. Neutrogena Tinted Sunscreen for Face with SPF 30, Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide and Vitamin E, has a perfect finish and is small for packing.
- My Apple MacBook Air.
- Charging chords
- My moisturizer, La Mer.
- Curling iron (I like that this curling iron comes with 3 sized barrels)
- Small umbrella
- Photo of passport and extra passport pictures.
- Credit card without a foreign transaction fee
- Safety whistle.
- Portable safety alarm.
- Small flashlight
- A small sewing kit and static guard.
- My Ultimate Concierge! 😉
Tips For Packing a Carry-On
My Ultimate Concierge and I were at O’Hare last week and ran into close friends. They were on their way to New York for five days. Each had one carry-on bag for the entire five days. Period. I asked her for a few tips. She told me she layers her outfits and rolls many items. Fold your shirts in half and roll tight! (A tip from me: You can use compression cubes or packing envelopes to help keep things from taking up too much space. As well, put items like socks and undies inside shoes.)
The Plus Side to Using a Carry-On
Now, there are many pluses to traveling with only a carry-on. If you decide to travel with just a carry-on, the first rule of thumb is to do your homework and invest in the best. As well, the size and weight of your carry-on are important. I recommend a 22-inch. Please check with your airlines. Here are a few that I have picked for you based on several popular travel websites:
Note: Another great reason to use a carry-on is that you do not have to check your luggage or pay a baggage fee. You arrive at the airport and immediately leave to start your trip, avoiding the baggage claim and saving a lot of time.
What To Pack For a 4-Day Trip
Now, if you have a 4-day trip to a big city like New York, your goal is to pack those 4 days in a carry-on. So check your calendar for all the events, meetings, restaurant dates, casual time for sightseeing, etc., and then go to work. This is how I pack for the occasion:
- 1 little black dress
- 1 pair of black pants and one pair of jeans
- 5 tops in different styles, colors, and materials (silk, cotton, cashmere, wool) to wear with jeans and black pants.
- 2 pairs of shoes. I wear one pair on my flight.
- Cosmetics. I save my sample-size products the shops throw into my bag and use them for travel! Sephora and Neiman Marcus always throw in three or more sample-size products with each order. Everything goes into a plastic baggie.
- A travel mirror
- A curling iron.
- 1 small laptop (12”) and a case for cords, etc.
- Use a Kindle to read instead of packing books.
Very Important Accessories:
- 1 large scarf
- Daytime and evening earrings
- 2 necklaces
- 2 flowers to wear as a broach and to accessorize a hat.
- 2 belts
- Fun socks
- An Apple Watch with several bands
- One backpack (as a purse). I wear it on the plane as my extra suitcase!
- And very, very, important… 1 tube of red lipstick!
Another Note: Try and pack in the same color family.
What to Pack for a Cruise
First, know the dress codes, and second, for first-time cruisers, you will probably not see your bags for the first five or six hours. My advice is to pack a swimsuit and cover-up or a casual outfit in your carry-on so you won’t miss a half-day of pleasure. Here are the other items I suggest you always pack for a cruise:
- A hanging make-up organizer because a typical cruise bathroom vanity has no room for cosmetics.
- Extra hangers if you don’t pack “my way.”
- A power strip for your computer, hairdryer, phone, etc…
- Dramamine for motion sickness.
- Sneakers (I LOVE these Cariuma sneakers — I have them in green!)
- Alarm clock
- Cruise travel insurance policy and a picture of your passport + extra passport pictures.
- Suitable attire for cruise ship formal night (a tux is no longer customary).
- Tote bag for shore excursions
- Small umbrella
- Reading material
- Small bills for tips
My Final Thoughts on Packing
Packing can be difficult, or packing can be made easy. Though it can be stressful, if you have a plan and follow it, it will be much easier for you. If you are wondering what to pack, or want more ways to pack for your specific travel destinations, here is my advice: Google it! I did and found so much information. Happy traveling, darling.
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