My Best Packing Tips for Quick (& Long) Trips

Before Josh and I headed out on our 10-day trip over the holidays, I posted on Instagram Stories about how I can pack for 10 days in a carry-on, and I got SO many messages from you guys asking me to share my packing secrets.

I am typically opposed to checking bags, unless I'm going somewhere for SO long that I just can't avoid it (ex: when I studied abroad in college for three months, I checked two bag). But typically, whether I'm going somewhere for just a night, a quick long weekend or 10 days, I carry-on one roller bag and a small, crossbody purse. Here's how I do it:

1. Make a packing list ~1 week in advance.

I look at the weather of wherever I'm going about a week before my trip, average it, and then start my packing list. I use Google Docs, and I write at the top how many days and how many nights I'll be gone. Then, I break my list into categories: tops, bottoms, accessories, shoes, toiletries, technology and extras.

Using a packing list may seem extreme, but it's how I make the most out of my small carry-on and make sure I'm only packing what I need -- not just everything that looks pretty in my closet.

2. Do a "pull" from your closet.

Before I write down which clothes I'll be bringing in my packing list, I go into my closet and pull out any item I want to bring, making sure to stay within a certain color scheme. Then, I edit this down to make sure I have one top for every day and every occasion. Lastly, I choose a few pairs of bottoms (pants, skirts or shorts depending on what the weather is like where I'll be going) that go with each and every top I'm bringing. This way, everything I'm bringing matches, and I can mix and match throughout my trip.

3. Bring fewer pairs of shoes than you want to.

I know, shoes are my weakness too. I want to bring them all, but typically I set out how many pairs I want to bring -- and then I cut that number in half. For example, over my 10 day trip for the holidays I wanted to bring 5 pairs, and I ended up bringing 3 -- a tall flat boot, a short bootie and a nude flat.

4. Pack things that are "medium dressy".

This may sound weird, but I try to never bring things that are too casual -- or too fancy -- on a trip. I try to stick right in the middle, if I can -- dark or black jeans (instead of lighter, ripped ones), blouses (instead of t-shirts or leggings), and shoes that I can dress up or down (instead of sneakers, flip flops, etc.). That way, I typically don't have to change half-way through the day or dress up for dinner -- I can just throw on a pair of heeled booties or a jacket to dress my look up without having to re-do the entire thing and pack two outfits for each day. Obviously, this will change if I'm going somewhere for a formal event or going on a super casual vacation, in which case I would pack accordingly.

5. Pack like things together.

I have never subscribed to the rolling theory when packing (although I know some people who do and who say it works wonders!). Instead, I simply set everything out on my bed before I start packing so I can see it all in one place, and then I pack like things together. For example, typically one-half of my hard-shell carry-on is clothes, and the other half is shoes and toiletries. 

6. Use little space saving tips to your advantage.

For example, to save space, pack your socks inside of your shoes. Your straightener and brush can go inside of boots. Use little bags or packing cubes to organize things like tech cords, underwear, and miscellaneous items so they're not laying throughout your bag, making it messy. And, wear your heaviest items on the plane or in the car to save space in your suitcase.

Ultimately, I believe that if you want to pack lighter, you just have to bring less than you think you need or want -- no space saving tricks inside of your suitcase are going to help you fit 400 tops into a carry-on bag. I hope my tips helped you prep for your next trip!