Friday, August 12, 2011

How to pack light... with heavy clothing!

What does the word 'vacation' mean to you? I'm sure it has something to do with a sandy beach, or a big city... maybe even a snowy mountaintop! Believe it or not, I won't be seeing any of these things on my trip next week. I'll be staying at a little cottage with my family in northern Michigan -- which means hiking, campfires, 65-degree weather, and no internet access.

Truth be told, this self-professed city girl is actually excited to get in touch with the great outdoors. Sometimes it's good to take a break from daily life and experience something completely different! I plan on journaling the old-fashioned way and taking hundreds of photos, so I'll have plenty of stories to tell when I get back.

For now, though, it's time to pack!

STEP ONE: Narrow it down.

As a 20-something girl living by herself in the second most expensive city in the United States, it's safe to say I want to spend as little dinero as possible on this trip. After shopping around and finding the cheapest flight I could (thanks, Shatner!) I was ready to figure out carry-on options. My mission? To only bring one bag on the plane. (Yes, fellow fashionistas, it's possible!)

Remember, I'll be with family in the middle of nowhere for six days. They could care less if I wore the same outfit the whole time. However, I'll be taking photos, so I need at least a couple cute options! Here, I've laid out the perfect packing list. Besides toiletries and accessories, this is all you need for a relaxing Michigan vacay!

1) Flats. 2) Sandals. 3) Heels. 4) Tank tops. 5) Flannel shirt. 6) Hoodie. 7) Dress. 8) Short-sleeved top. 9) Sweatpants. 10) Swimsuit. 11) Jeans. 12) Shorts. The key here is to select layering pieces that can be worn multiple ways. I've already formed more than six outfits in my mind with these items!

STEP TWO: Roll it up.

I read in a magazine years ago that the best way to pack is to roll everything up by outfit, and the technique has never failed. Not only are things packed to perfection and take up the smallest amount of space possible, but you can easily grab a look while on the go!

Before you start the rolling action, select (and put aside) the outfit you'll be wearing for your journey (in this case, a plane ride). I always wear the bulkiest items... it saves a lot of space, plus I'm always cold on planes and they don't hand out free blankets anymore.

STEP THREE: Assess the situation.

I'm using a backpack for this trip because it'll easily fit under the seat in front of me. If you've followed these steps, you should have plenty of room left for your other travel essentials -- I have two whole pockets still!

Do you have any personal packing tips? Did you use any of mine? What's in your carry-on? I'd love to hear your thoughts... ♥


  1. Such good tips - I'm traveling a lot this year (and in the winter so very heavy clothes), I'll have to try this out!

    xoxo ~ Courtney

  2. Excellent packing tips post!!! It's amazing how you fit everything into your small backpack. I have a few packing tips of my own, mostly because my dad works for an airline, and was a bit of a stickler when it came to packing for vacations.

  3. yess! rolling up clothes is the best technique!

    <3 steffy
    Steffys Pros and Cons

  4. I'm a new convert to roll packing, and just love it!

  5. I suck so badly at packing. Ha ha! I keep hearing that the rolling method works. I will have to try again. What do I do with my jackets? I may need to take a professional class with you on this!


  6. I'm heading on a cruise in Dec/Jan for a week so I'll need 2 outfits/day: for sightseeing and then something nicer at night.

    Rolling is *the* way to go. I fit so much into my carryon that I won't need to haul a big suitcase! Plus, I actually have room to bring home some souvenirs. <---photos of my rolling carryon

    This is what's inside:
    -2 matte jersey dresses
    -5 skirts
    -1 pair leggings
    -1 pair denim shorts
    -1 pair white denim capris
    -3 camis
    -1 tank
    -3 tees
    -1 beach tunic
    -3 swimsuits
    -2 bras
    -6 pair underwear
    -3 blouses
    4-5 scarves
    flat iron
    two pairs heels
    1 pair sandals
    cosmetics bag
    folding purse/handbag

    Pretty ridiculous.

  7. WOW, Steph- you advice is great, but I am currently enamored with Carolyn!!!!!

  8. Yeah, she totally showed me up! Ha, but seriously, I'm impressed.

  9. Hm, a casual skirt might be a good extra!

  10. Great tips! I always need a good way to pack. Especially when going on airplanes. I always get tons of wrinkles though.

    xo, rv

  11. Ah, Steph, did not mean to show you up. You inspired me!! Honestly, this is a great post you put up. There is something so awesome about traveling with only one bag. It's liberating.

    I tend to roll up like with like (e.g., all my blouses together), not outfits like you suggested because I do so much mixing and matching and re-wearing. Once I get to my destination, I can unpack and see what I have.

    I also like packing fabrics that are wrinkle resistant, like the matte jersey dresses. Not my favorite, but the little black dresses are chic yet, forgettable. I can make them look different with a scarf or shoes.

    I agree, wearing bulky clothes on the plane is smart. I take my jean jacket on every trip, even in the middle of winter, because its just slightly big enough to wear over layers. Plus, it has multiple pockets including an inner pocket to hold my passport and bording pass.

  12. Outstanding post. I am also a roller. I find that it is the best way to fill in spots and avoid as many wrinkles. Michigan eh? Are you getting any fishing or hiking in? I do wonder why you're not packing sneakers or boots...

  13. This is so good! Excellent travel tips! This is something I would read in a mazagine!

  14. I'm also a firm believer of rolling! sounds like an interesting trip... have fun!

  15. Believe it or not, these are my most proper shoes for walking in the woods... :)

  16. Loved this post! I'm a terrible packer and the last time I went out of town I tried to do the mix-and-match thing? Yeah, turned out that nothing actually worked together, I don't know what I was thinking. (I think I already told you that - I'll move on and ignore my short-term memory).

    I've never actually tried rolling clothes, I always worry that they'll get wrinkled! It definitely seems to be the way to go, though, so I'll have to try it next time!

  17. You and Madison had great advice on packing! I roll, too…but I still tend to pack too much!


  18. I'm a firm believer in the rolling technique. Not only is it a space saver but it's a time saver if you make each roll an outfit.

  19. One of my tricks is to pack a lot of neutrals or only things that will match. If you are all over the place with color when you get to your destination dressing will be annoying all get out.

  20. Rolling up is the best! It seems at first that its taking up a lot of space - but it saves so much more! I find that in the summer (if it doesnt get cold) one can pack variety of dresses and you can carry lots but light coz light summery dresses carry hardly any weight! Great post! Thanks :)

    Look who's Wearing (LwW)

  21. Great tips! It's so hard for me to pack light! I always carry so many things... It's like I am trying to take everything with me!!!

    I am so excited to be hosting my first giveaway! Check it out here:


  22. Nicely done! Packing efficiently is key to enjoying a vacay and not stressing about what to wear. Congrats on being featured on IFB!
    xoxo, f
    The House in the Clouds

  23. I love packing tips! Thank you for this, I always have the worst time packing. And my eternal question is (not related to packing, but related to vacation tips), what are comfortable shoes to walk and stand all day long that are not hideous, my aching feet are always the most awful of my problems!
    -Sandra Ponycat

  24. Yep, I do exactly the same:)
    1. plan
    2. roll
    3. see where else I can fit more! sometime my handbag ends up looking like a balloon.

  25. impressive rolling and packing!


  26. I usually just dump everything that I own into a duffel bag. I like your packing better. I never thought to roll a whole outfit together! Wow.

    I went camping this Summer too - and had no internet access either. Hope you're having fun!


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