Monday, October 21, 2013

My Travel Basics ::: Ninja-Packing 101--Clothes

All Photos: by {accordingtoame}

I wouldn't call myself a seasoned traveler.  Most of my travel has been for leisure, with only a small amount related to work.  Despite that, I developed quite a system for when we travel now, involving extensive use of varying sizes of Ziploc bags. But because of my self-taught ninja organization, we can often carry on one duffle bag with everything packed neatly inside, and a smaller duffle for little odds and ends/my purse, and almost never deal with checking bags, even for a week-long trip for two!

Most of our reasoning behind not checking bags is fear of loss, and the rest is simply because we are both "get your shit and get out of the way" kind of people. We want to be through security and to the gate as quickly as we can, and on the plane in our seat, and back off and out of the airport just as quickly. Standing around a baggage carousel is not in any way "quick."

My "ninja packing" is really a product of being a ridiculous over-planner.  Around 3 weeks in advance of each trip, I write up a list of what I need and want to pack, specific outfits/clothing, exact numbers of underwear and socks necessary (I always add one just in case of emergencies or return flight issues), an itemized list of toiletries and any other item that must go with us (chargers, medications, etc.)  

Once that list is made, I start setting aside the clothing, which if not clean already will then be laundered and dried separately from regular loads so that it's ready to set aside. I will publicly admit that I have my clothes packed and the vast majority of my toiletries packed at least 2 weeks in advance of any trip. It actually gives me serious anxiety that I have to wait to pack chargers and most medications and last minute toiletries until the very last minute.

What I think is a huge time and space saver for us is that, at least for my clothing, is that I set up outfits, and "assemble" them how they will be worn, but I usually pack things that are easily mixed and matched just on the off-chance that I change my mind when I arrive. I roll each “outfit” so that they're already put together and I can just grab one roll and get dressed. Unless I need dressier pants, I pack one pair of jeans and wear the other onto the plane. For longer trips, I will pack an additional pair, unless laundry facilities are available.  I will also publicly admit that I do tend to overpack, in all respects. Despite being able to buy virtually anything I would need on the other end, I still just stick to my formula.

Brilliance in a box. 

Due to my husband's height, his clothes tend to take up the majority of our space in the big duffel, and my clothes take up less of the volume despite how many options I (over)pack. I learned early on about the wonders of "space bags", though I now usually use Ziploc XL bags, and put each of our travel wardrobes in separate bags, packing additional bags for the dirties. If we are staying with family, or in a place where there are laundry facilities, I have been known to wash the clothes again before we leave, so that I don't have as much when we return, and I throw a few "Tide Pod" things into my liquids bag for those situations. That's especially helpful with my husband's clothes, because his can almost all go into the dryer, while many of mine are hung until they're mostly dry, before a quick tumble in the drier on extra low heat to release wrinkles, and that takes at least a couple days.

Unless I have to, I almost never pack a spare pair of shoes. I pretty much always wear the same thing all the time, so rarely is there a need to take up any space for shoes. On the rare occasion I do need spare shoes, say for a wedding event, I will pack the smallest/flattest pair, usually inside a fabric shoe bag, or if necessary a plastic grocery bag, and wear the largest pair while traveling, just to save space.

When I start to assemble the duffle, I place my empty Ziplocs on the bottom. This is in part for protection from any puddles my bag might land in, but also just to stow them out of the way.  Then I place any shoes on the bottom, and all but 1-2 magazines from the pile go on either end as protection for the goods inside. Usually I keep the newest issues of any subscribed magazines held aside for an upcoming trip so that I don't "spoil" them and have new material just for the trip. I am a designer by trade, so I cannot get behind the digital revolution and prefer the paper copies.

Once that’s situated, I put the green rectangle bag containing odds and ends like toothbrushes, face wipes, etc., on one end of the bag, and then put the bags of clothes inside. Since I roll the air out, I am able to get several inside the bag.  In the image, I am only packing for myself, so there's only one bag full of clothes and I didn't squeeze all the air out (or any, probably.)  When we’re both going on the trip, there are two, and the duffle is much fuller and the bags are super air tight. 

After the clothes are in, I fill in with the curling iron, and my cosmetic bag. If we are traveling in the winter, I try to leave room in there for our jackets and a book for my husband.   As I am sure you noticed, I didn't discuss my arsenal of vanity. I will be posting that one separately on Thursday, so stay tuned for Ninja-Packing 102.

In the smaller duffle, I put the 1-2 magazines I plan to read on this leg of the trip, and my Linea Pelle Dylan bag. 

Once those are safely inside, I put the liquids bags and Truffle Clarity pouches, and medications inside this bag, as well as a small baggie with snacks.  Once through Security, I usually remove the Hair and Skincare Truffle pouches as well as the liquids bag and put them into the larger duffle.  If we're fuller on the packing, I skip that step.

As most of you have seen the contents of my purse may recall, I don't typically change out my purse contents for most trips, though I have been known to downsize from the Tumi Wallet to the Linea Pelle Dylan Zip Wallet if I know there will be a lot of walking around during the trip, because it's lighter and smaller, and I will end up needing the space inside the bag to stow purchases, or a cardigan/umbrella.

One last addition, one I can't NOT have with me, is a pile of antibacterial wet wipes. An enormous pile. I am kind of a freak about it. I wipe my tray down and often my seat and seatbelt down before I sit whenever possible. And if I am in a window seat I will usually wipe the window area and wall down, also. Call me a freak, but it's just my way.

Stay tuned for Ninja Packing 102 on Thursday where I show the vanity end of things.

What packing tips or tricks have you picked up over the years?  Please share them in the comments!

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  1. Where is your red duffle from? I love it!

    1. HI, thanks! It's an old Land's End bag. This is the closest thing I see to it:


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