The summer holiday season is almost upon us and before we are rewarded by actually being on holiday we need to go through the agonizing exercise of packing all the essentials so we can enjoy our holiday the we way had planned. I can’t think of a better way to tackle this problem than just going to the two most organized people I have ever come across: Professional organizers Melissa Curran Kalker of Sorted by Melissa and Susanne Gaspar of The Space Woman.
1. I am a mother of two energetic boys and my husband I juggling our busy schedules reminds me sometimes of a military operation. Packing for this gang takes a long time despite the fact that my husband always packs his own suitcase. How early I should start packing?
Melissa Curran Kalker: I suggest mentally rehearsing your packing several weeks in advance of your holiday. This not only helps to heighten the anticipation of your impending holiday, which according to recent studies, is our high point, but also makes you think of which suitcase, clothing, toys and accessories are necessary for your adventures. A few days prior to you travel, begin collecting your items to pack.
Susanne Gaspar: Prepare your packing list a few weeks in advance – you can find many examples online. Write down everything you want to pack and check if it’s there (does your bikini still fit? Do the kids have sun hats/sun protection wear? etc.). Then you still have time to buy any missing items. About a week before you leave, you can already pack any items you don’t need at home anymore, assess what still needs to be laundered and then add the missing items. Check them off your packing list to keep an overview – and peace of mind.
2. What if some items need still to be used at home and can’t just lay in the suitcase waiting for the holiday?
MCK: Ensure that items that need to be washed make it through a cycle. When you begin to pack go through your morning/evening routine. You should touch upon all the items you need from beauty products, toothbrushes, socks and shoes to sleepwear.
SG: Just stick to your packing list and you won’t forget anything. Make sure to check it a few days before leaving so you can do some last-minute laundry one or two days before departure. Leave enough space in your suitcase to pack these items.
3. Let’s settle this once and for all: Which items go into the hand luggage and which items go into the hold luggage?
MCK: If you are checking a bag for a flight always pack in your hand luggage spare underwear/clothing, and never check your prescription medication, lost/delayed luggage is always a possibility. Anything you don’t require on a plane, in a car or on the train to keep your comfy, fed or entertained should go in your suitcase. Adapters and chargers are bulky and if you are fully charged you won’t need these until you reach your destination.
SG: Anything you will really need (not might need!) whilst travelling goes in your hand luggage! Healthy snacks, drinks (not when you take a plane), entertainment for the kids, depending on the age diapers etc, baby carrier, and I like to pack a large but light shawl that can double as a blanket for me and my son. A book for myself (which I might even read if the little one sleeps…), our passports, travel documents, medications, and one set of underwear for the next day in case your luggage gets lost. Underwear is not bulky and can go in a ziplock back to the bottom of your bag. Wear your bulkiest clothing items to save space. As a minimalist, for me that’s actually all I pack. Other women might want to include some makeup and a hair brush.
4. What about clothes, are you ladies rollers or folders?
MCK: Roll the smaller items like shirts, fold jeans and jackets in half and lay on top as these tend to be bulky.
SG: I am a folder. As I fold and store my clothes according to the Marie Kondo method at home, I simply take my clothes out of their drawers and put them in the suitcase. I can see what I have at a glance! If I travel with a backpack (as we will this summer), I roll.
5. How do I pack my wide brimmed sunhat without it getting squashed? I don’t want to wear it on the plane because they will make me book an extra seat for it.
MCK: Place it upside-down in your suitcase, pack your clothing in and around the hat. This will help it retain it’s shape and keep it from shifting while luggage is being handled.
SG: Personally, I would say, leave it at home and take one that you can easily fold if any at all. But that’s me – go ahead and pack it, but be aware that no matter how good you pack it it might look a little rough once you unpack. Stuff the crown of the hat with small items – bathing suits, socks, underwear. Fill until it’s completely full so the crown maintains its shape. Once your larger items are packed (clothing, shoes), lay your hat brim down on top of those large items. Pack your smaller items (toiletries, hair tools, makeup bag, etc) around the crown of the hat, placing the items on top of the brim to maintain it’s shape. Zip up your bag and good luck!
6. I always end up packing too much and end up returning from holiday with unused items. With small things like tops and jewelry is doesn’t matter but it’s a shame to trawl around with excess baggage, especially if you have to leave something gorgeous in the shop because you don’t have the space to bring it back home. How much is too much stuff?
MCK: Shoes take up an inordinate amount of space in your suitcase. Often we wear less than half of the ones we have packed. Pack shoes that are versatile rather than for a particular outfit and wear your biggest pair of shoes on travel days to save space.
SG: If you pack an outfit for every single day it is probably too much. I usually pack for a week and do laundry in the sink once or twice or pay for the hotel’s laundry service. It saves you so much weight and hassle when lugging your baggage around, and for me it is worth the money as I like to travel light. Create a capsule wardrobe by laying out your clothes on the bed before packing. Choose clothes that match with as many other items as possible, are wrinkle-free, don’t show stains immediately (yes, the white silk blouse might not be the perfect choice), and that are versatile (the high-heels might not be suitable for the beach, whilst sandals can look fancy and work for several occasions).
7. How do I keep things organized in my suitcase?
MCK: Use plastic shopping bags. These are great for dirty clothing, wet swimwear, and corralling shoes and loose toiletries that don’t fit in your makeup/beauty case.
SG: The less you have, the easier this is! Small items can go in ziplock bags, cotton, or mesh bags. You can buy travel cubes/packing cubes that fit into your suitcase, and sort the contents by person or category. If you have folded your clothes and put them in the suitcase upright, you don’t need any bags. Just pack heavy items like cosmetics, shoes, etc into the area of the suitcase that will be the bottom once it stands up. That way, it doesn’t crumple your neatly folded shirts.
Thank you so much for these valuable packing tips Melissa and Susanne!
And finally a stylish tip from me: Did you know these two ladies also do miracles organizing your wardrobe if you have no time to tidy it up yourself before my “Shopping in your own wardrobe” style session where you have the chance to fall in love with your existing clothes over and over again?
-Image consultant with an eye for detail