Packing for vacation, whether it’s a weekend away or several weeks, is no easy task. How many of us have accdentally packed too much? You heave the suitcase in the trunk of the car and cringe at the thought you might need to pay the over-weight fee at the airport. Packing lightly and smartly takes time and practice. You need to put an effort into thinking through versatile outfits and packable clothing items.

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling over the years and now I’ve got it down to a science. Here are my thoughts on packing light and how to get the most out of your suitcase:

  1. Start with basics. The little black dress, the basic pencil skirt, the perfect-fitting pair of pants, etc… Each of these items should be highly interchangeable.
  2. Keep it all in the same color family. If you pack a bunch of browns, blues and blacks it will be hard to mix and match those things. Try to keep to the blue color family or the yellow color family.
  3. Add layerable items. Cardigans, vest, t-shirt, etc… these can be paired with the basics in a variety of ways.
  4. Go with comfortable, versatile shoes. This doesn’t mean only black shoes. I find more ways to wear my yellow flats than my black ones at times. Just make sure each pair of shoes can go with at least half of the clothing you pack.
  5. Be practical. Not everything we love needs to be packed. For instance: 8 pairs of jeans, even if you own that many, aren’t needed for one vacation. Instead opt for a comfortable pair and a dressy pair.
  6. Go wild with accents/accessories. This is where your style and personality can come in and turn the basics into full outfits with spunk. Think scarves, necklaces, earrings, pins, bracelets, hats, whatever.
  7. Roll your clothing. I’ve tried packing things in a million different ways. Folding it all to be the same size, laying it all out inside the suitcase, but I always find more room when I roll the items.
  8. Lay skirts/pants flat at top of suitcase. Rolling these items can cause all sorts of wrinkles and endless ironing. Lay them flat near the top to avoid unnecessary ironing.
  9. Spread jackets out. Place your jackets/button-down shirts in the suitcase with the sleeves hanging out. Once they are all piled in, fold all the sleeves into the suitcase.
  10. Use travel-size products. Even if you’re going away for a month, you won’t need full bottles of soap and shampoo. Lighten your load and free up space by purchasing travel-sized re-usable bottles.
  11. Stuff your shoes. Since I’m a runner I’m always bringing my gym shoes along. Those are bulky and don’t flatten much. Instead of wasting the space I’ll put a pair of socks in the toes or a carefully wrapped necklace. Saves room and protects your items.
  12. Travel perfume is key. Ditch your bottle of perfume and grab a purse-sized roller-ball tube of your favorite scent from Sephora. I love these. They travel well and are so tiny!

Katie Hinderer

Katie Hinderer is a freelance writer and social media enthusiast. She holds a degree in Journalism from Marquette University. Over the years she has transitioned from traditional publishing...