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June 28, 2016

Vacation Prep: How to pack your bags and get out

Lifestyle Vacation
JordynShaffer_Packing Wavebreakmedia /for PhillyVoice

The art of packing begins with categories and piles. Nothing goes in the bag until the end!

Ahhh the joys of packing … said no one ever. 

Don’t we all wish a modern day Mary Poppins (or app equivalent) could help us fill our bags and send us on our way? Indeed, packing — for long and short vacations alike — is an old-school art form, one I was lucky enough to inherit from my mom. (Thanks, Sheri!) Here, some tips on how to become a master packer:

Clean Your Bed

Before I embark on any packing adventures I make sure that my room is clean. More specifically, my bed has to be made before I start laying out a sartorial itinerary. Packing begins with categories and piles. I don’t put anything in the bag until the end.

Pack What You Wear

Lay out the versatile staples that you feel good in and that you wear all the time. You’ll want to feel like yourself in tried and true essentials — be it a favorite pair of boyfriend jeans or that favorite summer dress. Closet staples that make you feel chic and comfortable will ease any anxiety of the unknown.

Embrace your location, but not too literally

Now it’s time to consider the aesthetics of your destination. Ultimately, this is an opportunity to push your sartorial boundaries. Research the lifestyle and street style of your destination and see if any elements resonate with your personal taste. Going to Paris? Pack a blue blazer and ballet flats to channel your inner je ne sais quoi. Heading to L.A.? Pack your favorite maxi dress and sandals. But, promise me this: Don’t literally wear your wide brimmed hat in Venice as you might be mistaken as a Gondolieri. What may look chic back home might translate as more tourist than trendy.


From jewelry to hats to scarves, accessories are a small way to mix it up without taking over your suitcase space. Plus, planes, trains and automobiles get cold so it’s helpful to bring a big cozy scarf handy. I distinctly remember the day when I stumbled upon my stylish security blanket: a giant white scarf at Zara. It’s become my utility accessory of choice, a cover-up for hot and cold climates. Meanwhile, jewelry can upsell your best basics, ranging from a plain white tee to a black jersey dress. As for sunglasses, I actually always pack two to fit my mood: Aviators pair well with sporty, vintage-inspired outfits while giant Jackie-O sunnies add a glam touch to even the worst under-eye circles. Pack the jewelry in pouches to prevent tangles and sunnies in cases to prevent scratches.

Walk confidently

Do not bring heels that will hold you back, especially if you’re with a group. Who wants to be the high maintenance travel buddy teetering in stilettos on the cobblestoned streets of Rome? Sneakers currently enjoy an elevated status in the world of fashionable footwear, so I recommend a pair of neutral kicks that work with jeans and dresses. Bring one pair of heels or boots — preferably ones that are easy to walk in — for evening outings. Popular opinion suggests packing shoes at the bottom of your suitcase, but I have a more progressive approach. First, I use shoe bags to cover footwear and then strategically place individual shoes throughout empty spaces in my suitcase. A small spot in the right corner? That could fit a neatly tied bag with a wedge in it. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Don’t bring your entire medicine cabinet

Good things really do come in small packages. And by packages, I mean samples. Don’t just ask your beauty professionals for life advice while you’re sitting in that chair — ask them for travel-size toiletries. You don’t have to throw off your skin care regimen with hotel products or overpay for pint-sized products at the airport. Also, forget the Kim K approach and pack minimal makeup, too. Streamlining your skincare and pampering plan will create consistency and room in your Dopp kit.

Something to pack for the way back

Make sure you carve out enough time to discover a distinct memento, whether it’s something to decorate a room back home or a one of a kind piece of jewelry. It’s important to support the local community. Why shop at the same international chains you have back home? Oh, and don’t forget to Instagram your looks along the way.