Learn to pack a suitcase with Nikki Parkinson

9 tips for packing clothes for a trip away

I’m travelling again this week. This is far from an unusual occurrence.

I’ve spent the best part of the last six months packing and unpacking … for mostly work trips.

The thing is, I don’t think I can hang on to my notoriety as an over-packer any longer.

Well maybe just a little bit.

Necessity has forced me to streamline my packing process.

I’m still (generally) packing more than I need but I’m not packing as many clothes as I used to.

I’ve cutback on my “options”, instead working out in advance what outfits I need for different days or occasions.

This method tends to fall apart in a scenario like we had last week when road-tripping to the beach. My luggage didn’t come with a weight restriction so I well and truly took advantage! But in a work or short-trip scenario, I have to say I’m (almost) nailing it.

SY reader Amanda asked me to re-visit the packing and travelling issue in a blog post as it had been a while, so I thought this week’s lightening trip to and around Tasmania was an ideal week in which to do that.

See, I’m on a personal campaign with my packing.

We’ve booked to go to Europe for three weeks in June. I don’t want to be THAT person requiring excess baggage allowance even before she’s left home.

I want to be THAT person who sails through the UK, Paris and Italy with a capsule wardrobe that takes her from beach to bar and from cool English summer afternoons to toasty Mediterranean days by the water.

Anyone who KNOWS me is laughing right now. I can hear you!

When I was buying a new suitcase in the sales with this trip in mind, the personal shopper in David Jones (who reads my blog) helped me choose a size.

Even SHE laughed at my attempts to buy down a size from the one I eventually opted for (red 75cm Samsonite Firelite … it’s seriously so light and beautiful).

It’s still one size down from the largest in this Samsonite series and it’s had its maiden outing this week – carrying not just my outfit options but Master SY’s as well.

We have had a cabin bag with us but that’s only had the purpose of containing our clothes and toiletries for on board the Spirit of Tasmania. Our big suitcase stayed in the car for the journey over.

So, how have I gone?

Pretty damn good, even if I say so myself.

Here’s the process I used for this trip – and what I  now use for packing clothes for a trip away.

9 tips for packing for a trip away

Packing tips

1. Check the weather at the destination of the place/places you’re visiting. I use the weather app for this and find that it rarely steers me off course, even working a week in advance. So for this week, it indicated cooler temperatures than what we have had at home and some rain but not a super cold snap (which can happen in Tasmania at any time of year).

2. Consider what activities or events you’ll be doing or attending. I knew that on Day 1 (straight off the boat) we’d be driving a few hours before climbing up the Wineglass Bay lookout, so I packed our sneakers and comfortable active wear. Yesterday I had a book signing at a Hobart book store and we’ve had a couple of dinners out at night so I wanted a couple of smart casual options. There were no dress-up requirements so heels were left at home.

3. Write down outfit possibilities for each day/evening. I use the notes function on my iPad. The beauty of doing this is that I can refer to it when travelling if I forget the combinations I’d planned at home.

4. Put all proposed outfits – including shoes and accessories – out on your bed. Consider it like a jigsaw puzzle. Can you cut out one or more pair of shoes because you have two pairs that go with all your outfit combinations? Can you take one pair of jeans to mix and match for day or evening with different tops or accessories? Can one jacket work with all outfit combinations in case it gets cool? This is where I find I can cull down what I’ve packed and create a capsule that just works.

9 tips for packing for a trip away

5. The key to a workable travel capsule wardrobe, I think, is keeping to one or two neutral colours. On this trip, I stuck mostly with black and white with a bit of blue and denim thrown in. It all works. Yes, it’s not the same variety as I would wear at home but my suitcase isn’t groaning and I’m feeling quite smug. Just call me Queen Capsule. You can check out my outfits from this trip on Instagram. Here are just a few.

Bassike dress | Frankie4 Footwear sandals | Sterling and Hyde bag | Uberkate necklace

Bassike dress (I’m wearing L) | Frankie4 Footwear sandals | Sterling and Hyde bag | Uberkate necklace

Blue Illusion jacket | Moochinside scarf | Sussan tee | Harlow Australia jeans | Frankie4 Footwear slides

Blue Illusion jacket | Moochinside scarf | Sussan tee | Harlow Australia jeans (as featured here) |Frankie4 Footwear slides

Phyllis and Mimosa shirt | Salita Matthews necklace | myOmy Australia saddle bag | Frankie4 Footwear sandals

Phyllis and Mimosa shirt (I’m wearing size 14) | Harlow Australia jeans (as above) | Salita Matthews necklace | MYOMY Australia saddle bag | Frankie4 Footwear sandals (as above)

6. Ensure all – or the majority – of packed pieces clothes that don’t crush or need ironing. Who wants to iron while away? Not me. These labels are my go-to in the non-iron travel department: Mela Purdie, Metalicus, Motto, Bohemian Traders, Bassike, Blue Illusion.

7. Add in a couple of extra white or black tees for luck. If you have the pants or jeans and accessories sorted then these are all you need to extend your travel wardrobe. They are also blank canvasses for any souvenir scarf or jewellery shopping you may happen to do.

8. Don’t forget underwear. Seems obvious but there have been many a time I’ve nearly forgotten mine. I’ve been so engrossed in the outfit-planning mode that I have nearly forgotten the essentials. Nude underwear will work for just about any outfit. Yes, I know it’s not as exciting but packing only nude cuts down on suitcase bulk.

9. Don’t forget the activewear. In a previous life I never would have included that tip but there it is. I don’t leave home without mine – and my sneakers – last week I even took my yoga mat because we were driving. I now make room whereas in the past I would have sacrificed the sneakers for more heels space.

9 tips for packing for a trip away

My next challenge?

Well apart from working my European capsule wardrobe (and if , like me, you are travelling OS in our winter, then think ahead by picking up pieces in the summer sales that you’ll wear now and also while away), my greatest travel/packing “issue” is the amount of beauty and medicinal products I feel I NEED to bring away with me … JUST IN CASE. I’m working on it. I’ve reduced my skincare and makeup to the bare minimum (well MY bare minimum!) but there is more work to be done in that department.

So, over to you. Are you an EXCELLENT packer for trips (work or pleasure)? What tips can you share with us that have worked for you.


This post was originally published at Styling You. Republished by kind permission of the fabulous Nikki Parkinson. If you’d like more holiday-changing tips on packing from Nikki, check out her range of holiday packing guides


Leave a Reply