I’ve taken quite a few trips so far this year—to Spain, NYC (twice), and Los Angeles—and have seven more planned in the upcoming months. Make no mistake: traveling this year, particularly over the summer, is more chaotic and time consuming than I’ve ever experienced. Heck, airports are even starting to limit the number of passengers that can fly through them!
While many travel-related headaches are outside of your control, packing smartly and lightly truly makes the process less stressful (and a bit more delightful). Bringing the right amount and type of things means less stuff to carry and more assurance that you will have what you need. Read on for my summer packing tips as well as a peek into what I brought on my recent trip to Mallorca, Spain!
(1) Plan ahead
Having a firm grasp on your itinerary in advance is critical to packing smartly. When you know what you are going to do, you know what to bring. Remember to check the weather and any attire guidance, particularly for weddings. To avoid last-minute stress, I like to confirm my itinerary about a week before my departure date. That way, I can take my time to plan out my outfits.
Take one of my recent trips to NYC as an example. I reached out to my friends a week in advance to schedule two dinners. Rather than throwing in a bunch of stuff that I may or may not wear, I packed only two restaurant-appropriate dresses, which opened space in my suitcase for more casual attire.
(2) Pack light, preferably in a carry on
Staffing shortages and pent-up demand have put a lot of strain on on-the-ground teams at airports. Countless friends have shared horror stories about needing to wait days for airlines to return lost luggage, if it was returned at all. Don’t let that be you!
Unless your trip is longer than two weeks, I believe that everyone can pack what they need in a carry on—domestically and internationally. For a week-long trip to Mallorca with three days of wedding-related events, my boyfriend and I shared one carry on and one garment bag. For a three-day trip to the other side of Florida, I put everything I needed in a backpack.
(3) Don’t be afraid to outfit repeat
The trick to fitting everything in a carry-on suitcase is selecting versatile clothing, shoes, and accessories. My rule of thumb is to only bring pieces that I know I can wear at least twice on a trip (excluding more formal wedding attire). To make sure every item meets this threshold, I plan each outfit by day so I know exactly how I can incorporate a particular piece across my various getups.
While wearing something more than once might seem boring, mixing and matching allows you to create seemingly different looks from a baseline of fewer things. An added benefit of planning outfits in advance is that during the trip, the stress about knowing what to wear is effectively eliminated. If you want more guidance about how much underwear to bring, check out this blog post.
(4) Bring laundry soap
Bring a travel-sized bottle of laundry soap (I just fill up an empty bottle purchased from CVS with detergent from home). Hand washing in your hotel or Airbnb is a great way to keep a piece of clothing clean so you can wear it again and again. I love doing this with swimsuits!
(5) Always reassess
What seems like an essential at home may be clutter while traveling. Check in advance what your accommodation offers (e.g., a blow dryer, iron), so you know what to ditch. If you’re traveling with a group, you and your buddies also can coordinate who brings certain shareable items – like one friend can bring a steamer while the other a lint roller. Before you place an item in your suitcase, keep asking yourself: is this necessary?
Check out this Reel for an overview of my recent trip out to Spain. Frankly, even though I didn’t bring much, I still felt that I overpacked!
—Phoebe Kunitomi, founder and CEO of okko