3 Keys to Packing + 9 Travel and Packing Tips

black and tan heels

On my recent trip to China (Hong Kong Part I, Hong Kong Part II, Shanghai), even though I packed in a carry-on, I still over-packed and could have taken only half of the clothing I brought with me. Also, I packed 6 pairs of shoes (3 were thin sandals), but only needed 3-4 pairs.

After rapidly going from an extreme over-packer to someone who doesn’t want to pack one item that I won’t use, I thought I’d share with you all the tips I’ve learned and how I got there.

3 Keys to Packing:

  1. You have to plan out your outfits. It may take an extra couple of hours, but this is how you will be able to pack the least amount of items for your trip. This step is super important and totally worth the extra effort.
  2. You have to love your clothes. What I mean by this is you need to love the things you want to pack so much that you want to wear them more than once. I usually end up packing the items I love the most in my wardrobe (for that season), and if you don’t love your clothes, packing will be hard because you won’t like anything you are packing, and you’ll try stuff on and you’ll get mad and it’s a long cycle until you just get frustrated and throw a bunch stuff in your suitcase without really having any idea of what goes together and how/when you will wear it.
  3. Shop for the holes in your wardrobe in advance. If you plan out your outfits a few weeks in advance of your travels, you can see where the holes are. Instead of doing this a day or two before you leave and then going on a crazy shopping frenzy the day before you leave (you know you’ve done this), and/or paying to overnight items to your house — if you know where the holes are you can shop for the perfect items over the course of a few weeks before you leave. I do a combination of ordering items online (Nordstrom, Shopbop, and ZARA have free shipping & free returns), and will also do shopping in person (mainly because my office is in Georgetown and it’s convenient for me).

These 3 Keys to Packing have made a huge difference in my ability to pack only what I need when I travel. Honestly, when you love your clothes, and like how everything fits you, the time it takes to plan outfits for trip is less then the time it would take you to try on a million things and get frustrated, and then just throw everything in your bag that you then have to haul around and because it’s heavy it makes you sweat when you’re at the airport and that just sucks.

I realize that loving your clothes might be a major thing  you have to start changing, but trust me, it’s such a good one. Investing in classic quality pieces that you feel great in (get them tailored if necessary) will save you so much time when packing (and just getting dressed every day), and probably money in the long run.

Shopping for holes in your wardrobe is more a conscious effort to think about your wardrobe overall, and the decision to shop intentionally. Anytime I catch myself thinking about an item over and over when I’m getting dressed each season, that’s how I know what I’m missing and what I need to be on the lookout for. Last fall I was always thinking black chunky booties would be perfect for this outfit so that’s how I knew it was a hole in my wardrobe.

These changes in how you view, love, and shop for your wardrobe really take the pain out of packing. When you love what you have, and you have all the classic pieces you need, how can you go wrong? Exactly, you can’t really.


9 Tips On Packing & Dealing with Clothing while Traveling:

  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them to help save space and help with wrinkles (I do this with most of my items, but not all)
  • Roll clothes in tissue paper to combat even more wrinkles (throw the tissue out at the end of the trip & don’t use it on your way home if you need extra space in your luggage for things you might have picked up on the trip)
  • Keep the expander on your bag zipped for the trip there so you have space to unzip it and fit more in your suitcase on the way back if you purchase items on your trip
  • Request a steamer to be brought to your room when you check in
  • Unpack immediately and hang clothes up, then steam any that need to be steamed (if they don’t have a steamer, request an iron, and you can use the steam function but an actual steamer is ideal — or you can have the hotel steam your clothes for you if they offer that)
  • Put shoes in shoe bags so they don’t get your clothes dirty (I typically use duster bags from my purses)
  • Have a laundry bag (or you can just use a designated pocket in your suitcase) where you put your dirty clothes throughout the trip
  • Wear your bulky items on the plane if possible. If you want to take a pair of boots, wear those on the plane so they don’t take up so much room in your bag.
  • One pair of pajamas is really enough, unless you aren’t going to have AC…then it might be an issue.



This post was inspired by my recent trip to China done in collaboration with Cathay Pacific AirwaysMegBiram.com retains all editorial control of what is published. All opinions are my own — and you know, I tell it like it is. Check out #CXploreAsia on twitter and Instagram to see my, Matt & Rachelle’s travel experiences throughout Asia.