With the holidays coming up, a lot of you are probably getting ready to travel. Little did you know, I am a master motherfucking packer. My goal is to never have to check a bag. For trips under a week, I’m usually able to achieve it. Here’s a glimpse into my process. Hopefully it helps you avoid what little holiday stress you can actually control.
Make a list like a goddamn adult. I usually like to this at least 24 hours before I pack, because I’ll inevitably remember something while I’m dicking around in the bathroom – which is a much better time to remember it than when you’re at the airport. Your list should have items like toothpaste, shampoo, underwear, socks, chargers, meds, etc. The fucking basics. You can laugh this phase off, but I guarantee you’re going to forget something and feel like an idiot. I also like to make a loose list of the kinds of outfits I’ll need.
Here’s my list for my upcoming trip to Wisconsin. Feel free to use it as a jumping off point for your own list. (Bonus: once you’ve got your list done, you can re-use it every time you travel with only minor tweaks!)
Camera + Charger
iPad with Movies for Plane
Magazines for Plane
3DS + Charger
Beats + Charger
Laptop + Charger
Hard Drive with Photos to Edit
Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, Makeup Remover Wipes, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Dry Shampoo – I also find this is a great time to pack those Sephora samples of tiny mascaras and eye creams you’ve been meaning to try. They take up less space than the full size products you were going to bring anyway, and it’ll give you something to do while you’re hiding out in the bathroom.
Comfy Clothes for 2 Days of Flying (wear one of these to the airport)
Cute Outfit for Thanksgiving
Cute/Casual Outfits for Friday and Saturday
Underwear and Socks
You’re probably like “That’s a lot of shit for four days, Sarah.” But it’s actually not. I’m just being detailed as fuck, because I hate forgetting things. Just wait: it’ll all fit in my small suitcase and my backpack.
I also find myself mega-productive on planes and while hiding uncomfortably at family gatherings, so I always pack heavy on the entertainment. You don’t have to. You know, if you like boredom and awkward silence.
Lay out your clothes. I know it’s tempting to just throw a bunch of t-shirts into your suitcase and say “I’ll figure it out once I get there,” but fuck that. You’ll end up overpacking, having to carry a larger suitcase, and suffering a serious case of packers’ remorse when you strain your back carrying your shit up the stairs at Aunt Judy’s.
Since I already know how many cute outfits and how many lazy-slob outfits I need from step one, this part is actually pretty fun. I like to make a game out of it to see how many outfits I can make from the fewest number of pieces possible. Usually this involves the rule that nothing but tops can be single-wear items. I also like set caps, like no more than 2 pairs of shoes, and no more than 3 necklaces. You’ll likely be tempted to add another pair of jeans in case you shit yourself or 6 extra pairs of socks in case some horrible flood keeps targeting you. Do not do this. One extra pair each of socks and underwear, max. If you shit yourself, I’m sure Aunt Judy will let you use the washing machine, or you can throw away your pants and take your secret to the grave.
Here’s a demo of my two travel outfits, two casual outfits, and one cute outfit for this trip.
Let’s be honest. These are basically just cute pajamas.
Basic shit I wear every day, but nice enough to convince my family that I’m not horribly depressed and make them question why I moved to San Francisco, enrolled in art school, and dyed my hair purple.
This outfit is the most important. It says “Hey, I’m a respectable adult who knows that I have to dress up on days when banks are closed and not drink too much wine in front of Grandma. Please don’t worry about me.” But it’s also leopard. Because I’m a fucking maverick.
Go through your list and actually pack your suitcase. Cross things off as you pack them. Still need that toothpaste in the morning because you’re not some kind of savage? Leave it on the list until it’s in your bag.
Here’s my suitcase, all packed and ready to go:
I told you it would all fit. As far as clothes go, I’m only bringing 2 pairs of shoes, 5 shirts, 1 tunic, 1 sweater, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of leggings, a skirt, 1 pair of pajamas, and and appropriate quantity of socks and underwear.
As you get ready in the morning before your flight, pack items as you use them. This usually means meds, toiletries, makeup, and the like. Go over your list one more time and make sure you’ve got everything.
And if you’re too lazy to read all of that nonsense, here are the Cliff’s Notes:
1. Plan. Don’t overpack.
2. Minimize large/heavy wardrobe items. Instead, change things up with jewelry and lipstick.
Congrats. You are now the fucking Goldilocks of packing. Future you is prepared as fuck.