Will we ever get it right? If you are a traveler, you have to pack. As stylist Christina Burns says, “Your clothes become part of your travel story.”
Packing can be annoying or exciting, a chore or giddy anticipation.
Try our tips below from those in the Virtuoso family, all expert travelers.
Create a Packing Spreadsheet
This might work for only the most ambitious among us, but if you take Virtuoso travel advisor Jane Martz’s lead and create a packing spreadsheet – further divided by time of day and activity – you just might have the easiest trip of your life.
Take inspiration from her spreadsheet, seen below.
Prepare for Elegance
“I always travel with one dress more elegant than plans call for, just in case I wind up with an invitation or opportunity where I would need to be elegant (and of course that means the shoes and purse, too!).”
-Shelby Donley, Virtuoso travel advisor
“I simply cannot bear the thought of a lost bag! I can get up to three weeks in a carry-on garment bag. It’s all about tough choices, and recycling, and the freedom that doing laundry at the hotel or on the ship gives you.”
-Charles Wolfe, Virtuoso travel advisor
Packing Cubes and Rolling
“I love my packing cubes! They help me keep everything organized and labeled. I can’t go a week without them. They’re ideal for traveling on a boat, as the cubes neatly fit into compartments as well.”
-Andrew Rein, director of travel trade – London and Paris, Mandarin Oriental Hotels
“Rolling might be the trick for denim and workout clothing, but when it comes to dresses and nicer tops, I layer them one on top of another then fold the whole pile in half and lay it on top of my other packed items. It really cuts down on wrinkling.”
-Marika Cain, managing editor, Virtuoso Life
- “Truffle Clarity pouches and cases are always in my carry-on. They are stylish and functional. I use the zippered Clarity Clutch small and large for various odds and ends like cosmetics, keys, hand sanitizer, art supplies, and headphones. I use the Clarity Case for documents and magazines.
- Anker Power chargers. This is my security travel blanket so I don’t have to worry about a dead phone battery on the road.
- If you are vertically challenged and your feet don’t touch the airplane floor, this travel footstool will become your BFF. Is it dorky? Yes! Will people stare at you? Yes! Will you care after you realize how awesome it is and how much better your back feels? No! I can’t live without it, and it even makes traveling in coach on long haul flights bearable. It folds flat and fits easily in your carry-on tote.”
-Korena Sinnett, associate art director,Virtuoso Life
“Always, always take running shoes and workout clothes; you’re definitely going to skip the fitness regimen you promised you would maintain if you don’t, and those fitness clothes can do double duty if you end up on an active excursion.”
-Shelby Donley, Virtuoso travel advisor
“I always pack this duffle bag with me. I usually pack my carry-on to full capacity, leaving no wiggle room. That’s why I love this bag. It’s collapsible/foldable, so I just throw it in my purse. Then, I have an extra duffle bag to pack souvenirs in when I fly home!”
-Veronica Rosalez, graphic designer, Virtuoso
“I use an Orvis Battenkill expandable roll-aboard that’s slightly oversize, but if you fly first or business class you won’t be harassed. It’s large enough to hang and fold a jacket or suit if needed.”
-Roy Ramsey, Virtuoso travel advisor
The Carry-On Camp
“Packing light is liberating and the only way to travel. I’ve done a five-day board meeting in Tokyo, followed by three days of sightseeing in Beijing, and then a ten-day Seabourn cruise with only a carry-on. My method: plan ahead, and ensure every piece of clothing goes with at least three other items. I also send clothes to the laundry as I travel.”
-Mary Ann Ramsey, Virtuoso travel advisor
“You can do a carry-on if you are organized. It’s when you are going from cold to hot in one trip that you might need a bit more.”
-Hope Smith, Virtuoso travel advisor
“I always try to carry on ever since years ago when I flew to New York for a gala dinner with President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl – and my checked luggage with my black-tie clothes never arrived. Here are my ‘3 Cs of travel:’ 1-Carry on. 2-Clear containers. 3-Colorful scarves.”
-Kathy Bernstein, Virtuoso travel advisor
“I never regret over-packing. I enjoy a destination so much more when I feel like myself. That means bringing outfits I love for each day and evening and the toiletries I normally use at home, just in smaller containers. A trip is not the time to try new beauty products! My only concession to lightening the load is sticking to one color scheme so I don’t overdo the shoes.”
–Tiffany Figueiredo, Virtuoso travel advisor
“I’m a self-proclaimed over-packer. In my opinion, if the bag has the space there is no harm in filling it to max capacity. You never know when you might need a new outfit, something gets dirty, or your mood changes. Layering is always important.”
-Laura Epstein, Virtuoso travel advisor
“I always take things that I must have in my suitcase like an extra curling iron, a bathing suit, and a pair of jeans. Can you imagine the average-sized American woman trying to find a pair of jeans that fit in Italy or France? Forget it! I also take a 15-foot, heavy-duty extension cord – some European hotels don’t have outlets in the bathrooms for safety reasons, and the bedroom is five feet away from the nearest mirror.”
-Kelly Shea, Virtuoso travel advisor
You calmly arrive at the airport, skip the baggage check-in, and carry only your wallet, passport, a book, and your iPad – maybe some snacks. You don’t elbow for space in the airplane bins. Skip elbowing for overhead bin space or at baggage claim – just walk off the plane and check into your hotel, fresh and relaxed. Your luggage is already in your room. With Luggage Free, a company that works with Virtuoso advisors to ship your luggage ahead of you, it is possible. This is especially helpful if you want to take bulky items like skis or if you’re traveling for a longer period of time.
What I Pack: Virtuoso advisor Barbara King
How To Pack Like a Stylist – Tips from travel TV host Samantha Brown’s stylist.