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How to Pack Like a Pro for Travel

Years of globe-hopping have not only provided countless design inspirations for Annie, but they’ve also honed a very useful skill: packing for travel. Annie’s got it down to both a science and an art, and today she shares her top tips for packing like a pro for any trip, no matter the season.

1. About a week before you leave, start thinking about your travel needs, and check the weather report for your destination. Annie streamlines her packing process by creating a spreadsheet sorted by date, activity, and outfit. A little advance planning also helps ensure that her travel favorites are washed and ready, and avoids the dreaded last-minute laundry rush. But don’t start packing just yet; it will encourage you to keep adding unnecessary items.

2. For maximum pairing possibilities, create a color palette based around a neutral like black, gray, or navy, and choose some bottoms based on it. For tops, Annie always packs several in white, and uses scarves, shawls, and jewelry to up the color quotient. But you can pack tops in pretty much any color if you stick with neutral bottoms.


3. Lay out all your outfits on a bed or table, to make sure they work in person the way they work in your head, and try on any items you haven’t yet worn together; you don’t want to find out while you’re on vacation that your favorite sweater just doesn’t go with your new trousers and boots. Annie tries to repurpose certain items, as you can see here, but if something just doesn’t work, she finds a replacement and moves on.


4. Two or three days before you leave, set aside a minimum of two hours for packing. Start with what Annie calls the non-negotiables: undies, socks, and pj’s. You can never have enough of these, and they make a great bottom-of-the-suitcase liner to cushion your more delicate items.

5. Take the time to neatly fold each piece of clothing. Not only does this save real estate in your suitcase, but it also minimizes wrinkling. Although Annie prefers traditional folding, a few Fresh American staffers swear by the roll-up method, which does indeed fit more items in a suitcase.


6. Minimize your shoes. These are space suckers and can easily tip your suitcase over the weight limit. While confessed shoe addict Annie admits that it’s an ongoing struggle for her, she whittles down her choices by paying attention to both the palette and activity. For shorter trips, one pair of dress shoes, walking shoes, and fun casual shoes is probably enough.

7. Keep a case of duplicate toiletries packed and ready to go at all times. If you’re thinking, That seems so wasteful, we guarantee you’ll thank us come packing day when you can skip the house-wide product hunt. (You can also buy some inexpensive travel-friendly containers, like these from the Container Store, instead of buying extra products.) Because unfamiliar water can wreak havoc on the coif, Annie gives herself the best possible shot at a good-hair day by squirting her usual shampoo and conditioner into mini bottles. She also shares this tip for mousse fans: the changing pressure of an airplane can cause the can to leak all over your other items, so leave it at home. Instead, Annie prefers this hair-thickening styling cream from Living Proof.

Container Store

8. Also keep an extra grab-and-go bag of chargers and adapters for your electronics. This way, you’ll never forget to pack the ones you need, and you won’t risk losing your everyday chargers at your destination. Annie uses this adorable, easy-to-spot cosmetics case

to corral an iPhone and iPad charger, an extension cord for plugging in multiple items, and adapters. If you’re traveling internationally, look for outlet adapters for the specific country; as Annie has discovered the hard way, those popular multi-adapters don’t actually fit all outlets. Oh, and unless you have a photographic memory, don’t forget to label your adapters.


9. The day before your trip, set out your travel clothes. Annie’s go-to’s are black stretchy pants, a soft white T-shirt by Three Dots, a lightweight sweater or a Pine Cone Hill scarf used as a shawl, and a lightweight anorak by the queen of breezy yet polished dressing, Eileen Fisher. She tops it off with a pair of easy-on, easy-off travel sneakers. You can go with any comfy combo you choose, but keep these guiding principles in mind: skip the skinnies, and leave the heels at home or in your suitcase. Tight-fitting clothes increase your risk of forming blood clots while sitting for long periods, and no matter how fab those strappy stilettos look, you’ll want to use them to kick yourself if you’re the one holding up the TSA line or if they prevent you from catching your connection. When traveling, always, always err on the side of practicality.


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