Packing light (carry on only) is hard for many of us. The “what if’s” and “should haves” swirl through our heads. Discipline is really the only way through it.
Know your schedule of events. This is key for maintaining the realistic voice in your head. I have yet to need a swimsuit in a city or been invited to a fabulous party on a whim where a black dress was essential.
Know your audience. Few people will notice what you wore yesterday. People are more interested in what you think of them and are not even thinking of your outfit. Looking polished and appropriate is the priority over creativity.
Know your weather. Check the extended forecast of your destination–being comfortable for rain is more important than being cute.
Know your worst case scenario solution. Check your destination for a nearby shopping mall, CVS, or laundry facility.
Pick two or three colors and stick with that color palette only. You need to mix and match. Better yet, go for monochromatic looks and streamline your options.
Pack clothing you actually love. If you are limiting your options, then at least pack the items that give you joy.
Don’t reinvent your style on a trip. If you are jeans person, pack them and skip a the fantasy of what you think you should bring.
Bring a large lightweight cashmere scarf. It is an accessory for warmth, fashion, and a foil to hide stains if they happen. Bring a colorful silk scarf as well, there is always room for a silk scarf to pump up a neutral outfit.
Never pack more than 3 pairs of shoes: one workout shoe if absolutely necessary, one bootie in winter or sandal in summer, and one cool sneaker that can work with a dressier outfit.
Don’t forget a belt if any of your pants need one. It’s not easy to replace on the road.
Use small packing cubes so when you have dirty items they can be separated from the remaining clean ones.
Pack individual toiletries in mini clear containers and use a sharpie to label them. You don’t really need that much product.
Invest in these items that you will use for light travel.
A packable parka for winter or a light jacket that doubles for a rain jacket in warmer months.
Lightest weight athletic sneakers for working out. Leave the heartier ones you use regularly at home.
A lightweight leather or nylon cross body bag that has a detachable strap or fanny pack with minimal hardware that can do double duty as a dressier clutch.
Slim black nylon travel pants that are easy to pack, wash easily, comfortable, and can paired with a finer top for a dressier look if necessary.
A high quality compact umbrella. You do not want to purchase a crappy $5 umbrella during a rainstorm. Hotel umbrellas are usually large and annoying.
A great quilted tote that has plenty of pockets and detachable pouches. If the airline asks you to check your luggage, it can absorb the necessities you may need. An alternative is, a coated canvas tote that has no interior pockets so it will fold up and pack easily if not in use.
Cashmere t shirts are comfortable to wear year round, and they are finer looking than regular cotton ones.
Pack more tops than bottoms, roughly a three to one ratio.
Tips that may you surprise you and/or gross you out.
Swipe deodorant on the inside armpit of your clean workout shirt before you pack it. Once you start sweating during its second wear you will be reassured you didn’t need to pack a second shirt.
Bring micellar water for removing your makeup and it doubles for clothing stain removal.
Use panty liners every day so if you have to re-use underwear for some catastrophic reason, you can rationalize that it’s not that gross.
While dining, use a napkin on your lap and secure another one that you will actually use. Be mindful how you eat. Sit up straight. Your lap and shirt are precious during a light pack, maintain them with care.