Tips From the Pros: How to Pack Like a Frequent Flyer
Imagine your totally stuffed-to-the-brim checked bag bursts open as it's being put onto the check-in agent's scale, revealing a week’s worth of clothes for a quick weekend trip.
Chicago-based wardrobe editor and style strategist Megan Jedlinski wants to make sure this never happens to you. She specializes in helping clients simplify their style and gain back control and confidence over their wardrobe — including what they pack in their suitcase. Here, Jedlinski describes the finer details of the ‘less is more’ philosophy she applies to her clients to help you travel light and pack like a pro.
A Wardrobe That Functions
Before you jump into packing for your next trip, Jedlinski suggests taking a moment to pause.
"Assess your itinerary and goals for the trip. Confirm if your destination has any dress codes or etiquette to be aware of. Then, write down a list of activities you have planned along with reminders of what you hope to truly gain from the experience," said Jedlinski. "Getting clear on these things can help you avoid those ‘I’ll bring this just in case’ pieces that never end up getting worn."
So what should you be pulling from your closet? Mostly neutrals that can be mixed and matched, with one or two accent shades thrown in, perhaps in the form of a scarf or statement jewelry. As a baseline, Jedlinski recommends the following five items:
- Comfortable shoes — you’re likely going to be doing a lot of walking, so comfy footwear is priority number one
- Jeans — not only are they comfortable, but they’re easy to dress up or down
- A basic tee — this versatile piece can do the trick on its own or get a little help from added layers or accessories to up the wow factor
- A jacket or sweater — to throw on at the airport or in a chilly restaurant
- A cross-body bag — especially one that transitions from day to night
With these five basics sorted, add a few select items to suit your trip’s specific needs. Jedlinski's advice: “Don’t agonize over trying to make a fashion statement. Unless your goals are to make Vogue’s list of frequent flyer fashionistas, put back those six pairs of shoes and stick to streamlined, yet polished looks," she said. "Your energy will be better spent on taking in the travel experience.”
Once you’ve selected the items from your wardrobe, it’s time to pack. To maximize suitcase space, Jedlinski sources her inspiration from world-renowned organizing consultant, Marie Kondo. Instead of choosing between the fold or roll methods, she combines the two, as can be seen in her YouTube video series, How to Fold.
"You’re technically folding your garments, but it’s in a way that maximizes your space like rolling," Jedlinski said. "I highly recommend this method not only while traveling but at home as well."
More items to pack but quickly losing suitcase space? Place smaller items into any shoes or handbags. This also serves as a great way to add an extra layer of protection for fragile items. Are pesky wires always getting tangled in your bag? Jedlinski recommends keeping your chargers and extra wires tightly rolled up and placed in an extra sunglasses case — it’s easy to access and small enough to squeeze into a handbag, suitcase or briefcase.
And what’s the one travel hack she always abides by? Packing a mini-laundry kit.
“This has been a life-saver for me!" Jedlinski said. "For those that overpack for fear of not having enough clean clothes, having a toolbox of detergent for a quick wash in the sink, a stain stick for those inevitable spills and an anti-bacterial fabric refresher spray can go a long way in extending your travel wardrobe.”
Minimalism in Action
Minimalism, while sounding like an extreme lifestyle to some, is really just the intentional inclusion of certain people, possessions and ideas in your life. To apply that philosophy to travel means identifying the essentials we need on a day-to-day basis, who we want to be with (if it’s travel for pleasure) and what we want to spend our time doing.
Jedlinski's hope is that by implementing a minimalist attitude toward traveling, you'll find you’re spending less on travel fees (from bringing too much) and have more to spend on experiences. You’ll spend less time figuring out what to wear, leaving you more time and energy to invest in the moments that matter. And you’ll walk away with a new appreciation for living with less and feel encouraged to apply your new mindset back home.
What are some of your own packing tips? Share them with us, below.