By Jolie Kerr
Illustrations by Tara Jacoby
Going on a vacation is great! Packing for it? Not so much.. Whether you're a chronic overpacker, or are forever ending up with wrinkled clothes there's help for every kind of packing challenge — plus some easy ways you can avoid common disasters, like a bottle of cologne exploding all over your suitcase. Here are the commandments of packing that will have you acting like a world traveler in no time.
Pack Outside the Box
Most of us approach packing for a trip like this: Retrieve suitcase from its suitcase lair, open it up, start tossing things in. This is all wrong.
A much, much better way to go about packing is to set out everything you need for your trip — clothes, shoes and accessories, toiletries, even things like chargers and reading material — before the suitcase or overnight bag even makes an appearance. Attacking the packing process this way will allow you to do a few crucial things. First, seeing all of your stuff together will help to ensure that you don't forget a critical item, and it will also help you avoid overpacking,. Not that any of you would do such a thing. Second, you'll be better able to determine what size travel bag you need if you can see what you'll be bringing. It’s the smarter way to pack.
Become a Jacket Folding Master
There are a bunch of ways to fold a suit jacket to both maximize space and minimize wrinkling, but for today we'll stick with two: The easy way and the “I Am A Packing God” way.
The easy way is this: Lay the jacket opening side up on a flat surface and fasten all the buttons or zip it all the way up. Fold the jacket in half lengthwise, then fold the sleeves over the body of the jacket at the seams. Starting at the hem, roll the jacket up like a burrito. (Pros know this is the safest way to fold things that aren’t jackets, too. Treat your jeans like the burrito you want to eat.)
The I Am A Packing God jacket folding method is a bit more complicated, but not impossible to master. Start by laying the suit opening side down on a flat surface, then fold the left shoulder back. Next, turn the right shoulder inside out and tuck the left shoulder inside the right. Then, fold the jacket in half lengthwise and fold the hem up to the collar.
Go Feet First
When it comes to packing a roller suitcase, put heavier items in the wheel-side of the bag to help keep it balanced. Shoes fall into that category, which brings us to this next fact of packing: Shoes are dirty. Ideally, you'll pack your shoes in shoe bags, but if that's too fussy for you to even consider, at least pack them with the soles facing away from your clothes.
Prepare for Spillage
There are two types of travel spills that can be avoided with a little planning. The first is the dreaded "something exploded in my suitcase" spill. Thankfully, this fix is easy, cost-effective, and obvious. Invest in a Ziploc bag to keep all your particularly threatening products sealed up. Even in the event they do explode, the mess will be contained and away from your fantastic wardrobe.
The other common travel stain is the one that occurs when you spill food or drink on an item of clothing you’re planning to wear more than once. Here's the only trick you need to know about: Hand sanitizer. A lot of people are carrying it while traveling anyway and it makes amazing stain remover. To use it, put a drop of it on your fingers and massage it into the stain, repeating as needed until it comes out entirely.