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Smart packing hacks for stress-free trips 🛫

Never overpack your suitcase again. Don't roll your clothes or go out and buy crazy travel attire. Here's a practical packing guide for your trip.

You know from my capsule wardrobe blog post that my love of a capsule literally stems from packing a carry on suitcase.  For those of you who are new here, I should tell you I have a love of fashion that is rivaled by my love of spreadsheets. 

What you are about to read isn't going to tell you to buy specific travel items or to roll your clothing.  But is instead art meets math. My entire wardrobe for a 7-10 day adventure literally fills HALF of a standard carry-on bag. If you're interested in learning my packing voodoo, keep reading.

First, we are going to focus on shoes.  Shoes???  Yes, shoes. You get 2 pairs. Consider what you will be doing on the bulk your trip; will you be dressing for a convention? Roaming streets in a new city? Camping? Choose the essential shoes for that = Shoe A. Then ONE pair for the secondary parts of the trip. Are you dressing up for dinner in the evening? Donning a bathing suit? Choose one multi-purpose shoe for this = Shoe B.  I know you'll make smart choices.

Based on those two shoe selections, the next part of selection is going to be A LOT easier if you decide on 3 colors that will look good with the shoes you selected.  

This is the part where you're going to think I am 100% bonkers and you're going to hate on it at first. It's time for math. You're going to take the number of days you're packing for and divide it in half. This number is going to represent the maximum number of items you get to pack per clothing category; let's say you're gone for 6 days, you get to pack 3 shirts, 3 bottoms. 

Even through the internet, I just heard your collective gasps.  But here's where your color palette voodoo comes in.  Because you have chosen a color palette, ALL of your selections will mix and match creating more outfits than what you'll be able to wear!  (A little math, 1 bottom that mixes with 3 tops is 3 outifts. 3 bottoms that mix with 3 tops is 9+ OUTFITS. More than you need for 7 days!)

It's alright if you're still groaning. Old habits are hard to break. This is where my handy dandy spreadsheet comes in as a visual planning aid. I keep the one below in my google drive and update it for each trip. (I always keep my market trip reminders on it, so I don't forget anything important-like business cards and budgeting sheets. Feel free to disregard those.)

For this trip, my color palette is celery green, beige and white. I am packing for 7 days and heading somewhere warm. Plans include a day of light hiking, exploring a beach town, snorkeling, a lot of pool time and a night or two of fine dining. A good mix of adventure, play and downtime attire is needed.

Since this is a 7 day trip, I have 1 "jacket", 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 bathing suits, 1 cover up, 2 nightgowns, socks and undergarments. 

I have rarely been warm on an airplane, so I recommend wearing your most bulky jacket and footwear on the plane as well as your warmest bottoms. What about holding up TSA lines, you ask? Be courteous and remove the jacket and untie your shoes while you're waiting in line. It might take you 2 minutes to redress after you're through, but it will be worth it. (Protip: order your coffee online while you're in the TSA line, too. Coffee lines are looong at airports.) 

FASHIONISTA NEWSFLASH: NO ONE is going to remember what you wore at the airport. Use a different layering shirt on the way home and repeat the jacket, pants and shoes. Seriously: NO ONE WILL NOTICE.

Since I am headed somewhere warmer than where I am, my travel day layering choice is a tank top. That way, I can easily shed my cardigan and acclimate upon arrival. I will select a warmer layering piece for the trip home, practical right?

My spreadsheet is full of flexibility. For example, I packed a skirt and the spreadsheet pairs it with my brown tank and layers it with my linen shirt, but it also looks great with the bodysuit or even the cardigan depending on weather...same with the shorts!  This packing method provides SO MUCH flexibility for weather and even changes in plans that it literally changed my approach to curating my entire wardrobe. What if you spill? Repeat an outfit. I will probably wear my white dress to two different restaurants and guess what? No one will care.

And it leaves room in your suitcase for cool souvenirs like locally roasted coffee beans or a beautiful ceramic jewelry dish. Personally, I love picking up art pieces, like the fleur de lis that is framed in the Modish powder room from a trip to New Orleans. It makes me think about Dan & Emilee's wedding every time I see it!

Aren't the experiences and memories really the parts of our trips that we want to preserve?  Be a smart fashionista and make space for them.

Looking for the spreadsheet outfits?  Check out the video on