For Annie, the most stressful part of travel isn’t usually the travel itself—it’s all the prep work leading up to it. But as she shared in part 1 of her tips for trauma-free travel, careful planning is essential. This is especially true of packing, because as former House Beautiful editor Stephen Drucker once told Annie, “As long as you’re comfortable being the worst-dressed person in the room, pack light.” So she’s developed a few simple rules for packing that eliminate the guesswork and sartorial slips.
1. Plan your outfits. As she mentioned in the previous post, Annie creates an Excel spreadsheet that lists the days, predicted weather, and activities she’ll be doing. Then she chooses a palette—her go-to is black and gray, which is easy to mix up and accessorize—and selects a few bottoms (including one pair of black pants—a travel must), which she lays out on the bed or a large table for easy visual reference. She adds in several tops that can be combined with any of the bottoms, depending on the activity or event.
2. Go simple and versatile with your outfits, and rely on accessories for color and a pop of personality. Annie usually gravitates toward chunkier bangles, statement necklaces, and her own Pine Cone Hill scarves, which complement a variety of looks and pack a graphic punch against a neutral outfit.
3. Choose your shoes carefully. A dedicated shoe hound, Annie sighs and says, “This is always the hardest part.” She usually winds up packing too many, and cautions that all you really need are a classic pair of neutral pumps, a pair of flats in a happy hue, good walking (or other active) shoes, and water-resistant booties if you’re headed to a rainy location.
4. Always bring a lightweight, casual yet refined nylon jacket (one by Eileen Fisher is Annie’s go-to), that you can layer over a top for extra warmth, can dress up or down, and that will look pulled together even when it’s pouring rain.
5. Pack an extra pair of socks in your carry-on. Annie says, “No matter how warm it might be outside, the plane will inevitably feel like it’s 40 degrees at some point.” (Bonus: keeping your feet warm helps your body stay more relaxed and even encourages sleep.)
6. Also pack a travel blanket in your carry-on. Airlines rarely loan them out these days, and even if they do, do you really want to drape yourself in something that’s been wrapped around thousands of other bodies? Annie prefers a lightweight knit throw, which provides just the right amount of warmth, rolls up for economical packing, and can even be tossed over the shoulders as a shawl.
7. Buy dedicated electronics chargers. Don’t rely on your travel-stressed mind to remember to grab the iPhone charger on your way out the door. Buy a set exclusively for travel and store them in your travel bag so you never have to worry about forgetting them at home or, worse, in a hotel in New Delhi.
8. Bring your own headphones. Just try making it through a 12-hour flight with your sanity intact without something to block the noise of overly chatty seatmates, fussy babies, and flight attendants who haven’t learned the art of the stage whisper.
9. Don’t forget the creature comforts, like books or magazines (bring at least a couple, for times when you have to power down your tablet or e-reader), a small bag of snacks, a few bags of your favorite tea, and paper and a pen for jotting down ideas.