Pack Early, Check Often

I can’t think if I’m under pressure. Like…not at all. My brain freezes. So I start packing early.

I consider myself an expert level packer. One thing experts have to remember is to continue to learn and improve.

The first of the year, we are going to spend two weeks with my in-laws to check on them and to start moving some of our daughter’s items home because she is going into her last semester of college. I began gathering my outfits more than two months ago. I lay them all out and figured out what items I needed to complete the outfits and ordered those. When they came in, I put them with the clothes.

I gathered all of my toiletries at that time too. I organized my different categories of items into separate storage boxes.

Last week, I started focusing on making sure I had matching earrings for each outfit; making the ones I needed.

This weekend, I started actually packing my clothes. Before I put the clothes into the suitcase, I like to take a picture of the complete outfit; clothes, shoes, earrings, and head coverings.

Then I put the jewelry into snack bags and the whole set of clothes into a large storage bag or I put the outfit on a hanger and I staple the accessories bag to the hanger that the outfit is on. I hang more than one outfit on each hanger. I put the lightest color fabrics on the hangers first then I cover them with darker items. I hang the shorter clothes on the bottom hanger and the longer ones on the top. Then I pass the top hanger hook through a garment bag.

I use a multi clothes hanger similar to this

…well that’s what I used to do.

About 7 outfits into packing, I decided I’d been doing it all wrong. I took EVERYTHING out of the bags and I grabbed my vacuum sealer. I know there are brands that market their bags for vacuum sealing luggage, I used my regular, kitchen vacuum sealer.

I used the largest bags that my sealer can take. I carefully folded or rolled the clothes then vacuum sealed each outfit (minus the shoes) that way.

One benefit to doing this is that many dresses I would normally put on a hanger to prevent wrinkling in a suitcase can be kept from wrinkling by vacuum sealing them. This doesn’t work for all of my hanging clothes but I wear a lot of clothes that have natural crinkles and fabrics that won’t wrinkle as long as they’re flat.

Another obvious benefit is that more clothes fit into my suitcase even though I have more clothes in the suitcase.

On the far left, my peach outfit shown above is in a vacuum bag. Below on the right is another example; a black, pleated dress and the rest of the outfit vacuum sealed. Notice I took less air out of the crinkled dress outfit because I don’t want my organza shrug to get wrinkled.

I even put the undergarments and jewelry in these bags. I protect the jewelry by placing it in the cup area of the bras before placing them in the bags.

Two weeks of outfits fit in one side of my suitcase. this frees up space for the inevitable extra items we always bring back from trips.

The multi clothes hanger is still coming but it will no longer be overloaded. I still put the shorter items on the lower hangers and the longer ones on top and put that into a garment bag, but my garment bag will be a lot lighter than it has been on previous tips.

I’ll also need to carry less additional bags because there is more room in my suitcase. I’ve already decided that some of my free space will be taken up by bringing my vacuum sealer so I can repack for the return home the same way. Vacuum sealing will help keep my luggage fresher o the return home as well.

One would think that even with all of this prep and planning, I would be done. I’m not. I have a habitual need to check things so I will be revisiting my suitcase. Part of this is out of the fear that i will forget something that I really need or that I won’t anticipate a need. I try to offset the desire to completely pull my packing apart by documenting what I have wit pictures and lists.

More packing tips to come as I continue to prepare for my trip.

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