The Ultimate Packing Guide

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa

This is the packing guide you’ve been waiting for.

Do you ever feel like packing is a 3-day job? Or maybe you’re the one who packs the morning of a flight as you’re running out the door with a hangover, only to find that you forgot your toothbrush and your pants. 

I grew up hopping between family homes, then bounced back and forth across Canada throughout university, and have developed a reputation for never being anywhere too long since moving to Europe. I know a thing or two about packing.

If you’re looking to ease the stress of packing, no matter what your travel style, here’s the packing guide you need to make you an expert.

Step 1: Create a Packing Checklist

Getting started is the hardest part of making any change. Ask my boyfriend how many excuses I have to not go running. The best way to pack is to start with a list. I use a Google Doc, you may prefer a few Post-it notes. Whatever your method, let’s review and write it down.

I recommend doing this when you have an afternoon to pack on a weekend. This way you can kill two birds with one stone, and be set up for success the next time around. Find a place to set everything aside, a bed or the floor will do. Now start.

Put things into their own sections – clothing, jackets, toiletries, makeup, hair, sports gear, electronics, whatever else you find yourself lugging around on your adventures. Then elaborate on each category – which cables do you need for all your electronics? Break down all your toiletries and makeup products. This list should be so elaborate that, depending on your destination, someone could take it and pack for you.

Step 2: Go Through the Calendar

Photo by Estée Janssens

Now that you have your list, go through the calendar for your upcoming trip. How many nights will you be away? How many full days will you need to dress for? What type of trip is this? Will you need an active outfit for hitting the pavement during the day, and then a dressier outfit for an evening of dinner and dancing? How many pairs of shoes will you need for what you’re hoping to accomplish? Nobody wants to travel with someone who has too many blisters to walk..

Step 3: Try It All On

Don’t roll your eyes, it’s important to try these things on! Unless you’re headed from one city to another to do the same thing you do every day with the same clothes you wear every day, you’ll want to double check on how things fit. You may have forgotten about a tricky zipper or a shirt that hangs a funny way.

Keep adding your clothing to the pack pile, then add shoes. Walking shoes? Dressy shoes? What will you be wearing this with, and when? If you’re an jewellery person, make sure you start considering pieces now. 

Step 4: Cross Reference

Once everything is in one place, pull up your list and make a copy (this is obviously easier if it’s digital). Now start crossing out everything you’ve got set aside. No matter how clever you are, there will always be a few things that you miss. Ever forgotten a razor? Band-Aids for shoe emergencies? Or that external battery pack? You’re well on your way to never forgetting anything ever again!

Step 5: Pack Your Carry-On

Pull out whatever you want to use as your carry-on bag and start popping things in to it. Go ahead and put your passport in there! It’s not too early! If you’ve ever been scarred by a lost luggage experience, you may want to put a small bag with clean undies, a toothbrush, and any other essentials.

Step 6: Accessorize

Olivia Leaves

Photo by STIL

You’ve already started considering what jewellery you’ll bring, but have you considered how you’ll carry everything? Do you like to bring a clutch or small bag for evenings? Will a fitted blazer suit best for warm nights? Depending on when and where you’re going, a few coat and scarf options might be a good idea so all your photos aren’t exactly the same.

Step 7: Review and Count

It’s time to review and tally it up. Do you have enough outfits for where you’re going? Or too many? I quite often drop one or two sets of things once I realise my 4 day trip doesn’t need 2 weeks’ worth of clothing. Remember to consider what type of undies and socks you’ll need with your tight dresses or shoes that rub at the ankle.

Step 8: Pack!

Roll, roll, roll! I’m still not sure if rolling your clothes saves space, but I’ve adopted the tactic. What I’ve found is that some things that are prone to wrinkling may appear slightly less messy when they’ve been rolled vs folded.

Another pro tip is to pack according to your plans. Do you have a few stops that will require different types of clothing? I once did a two day stopover in Toronto, Canada at -1 degree Celsius on my way to Palm Springs, California where it was a balmy 38 degrees. I was very happy to have packed all my warm weather clothes at the bottom, and the 2 days of winter gear on top, so as not to explode my suitcase all over my friend’s one-bedroom apartment.

Step 9: Sleep Easy, Travel Well

Olivia Leaves | Packing Checklist

Photo by Killian Pham

This may appear to be a lot of extra work, but once you’re set up you can pack without thinking. There’s nothing like taking a suitcase from empty and unconsidered to full and ready for any occasion in an hour. You can relax, leaving the house knowing that you have everything you could need for any eventuality.

And hey, by only bringing the clothes you’ll need for the events you’ll be at, you can empty your suitcase in to your wash basket on return, and smile knowing you’ve got room for any shopping that may, perhaps, happen on your journey.

I hope this packing guide serves you well. Be sure to pin this one for later! If you need help creating your packing checklist, let me know!

Olivia Leaves | The Ultimate Packing Guide

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