Jun 2, 2014

Expert summer packing tips

By: Sara McCulloch

Author: Elle Canada

Jun 2, 2014

Expert summer packing tips

By: Sara McCulloch
Photo by Getty Images/Image Source.

Summer means shedding layers and wearing lighter clothes. This should also mean travelling with a lighter suitcase or carry-on, but that’s not always the case. To avoid stumbling around with a heavy, overstuffed summer vacation suitcase, we’ve rounded up the best packing tips from four travel experts:

The packing experts:

Anne McAlpin of spent about 280 days on the road last year and averaged 25 flights a month. Her specialty is packing light and smart. She is based in Jacksonville, Oregon.

Genevieve Parker Hill of is a creativity and simplicity coach and author. She regularly blogs about travel, decluttering and living simply. She is based in Los Angeles.

Marybeth Bond of has travelled to over 100 countries and has written 12 travel books. She is based in San Francisco, California.

Angela Leung is a Toronto-based flight attendant who has been working in the skies since 2008.

How to pack outfits – and plan for great vacation photos

“My logic is I pack for a week, because you can almost always do laundry,” says Anne McAlpin. “I also use a 3-to-1 ratio: pack three tops for every bottom. You perspire more on top and you can wear that skirt or pair of shorts over and over again. Remember that your tops are always in the photographs, so you do need to pack more tops for good pictures.”

How to pack using a theme – and choose neutrals vs. colours

Genevieve Parker Hill suggests picking a colour theme and sticking to it. “You want to have a theme so that you can mix and match pieces. I bring neutral basics (denim, beige, black, grey) and add colourful accessories like shoes, scarves, hats, and jewelry.

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How to pack ahead – and avoid a last-minute trip to the cleaners

Pack two weeks ahead of your departure, says Marybeth Bond: “Do this because sometimes you’ll find a spot on a blouse and you’ll want to take it in to the dry cleaners to have it removed. Try on everything you want to wear because you might also find a missing button and you’ll need to fix that.”

How to pack minimally – and have clean clothes to wear your whole trip

“Pack things that are easy to hand-wash with liquid soap and are quick to dry overnight,” says Genevieve Parker Hill.

On the next page: How to pack sunscreen, perfumes, jewelry, tech gadgets and more… expert-summer-long-packing-tips.jpgHow to pack a swimsuit – and how many to bring

“I like to bring three swimsuits so that each of them can have a chance to dry out properly and so that my tan lines even out,” suggests Angela Leung.

“Pack at least one one-piece suit, in case you’re doing anything athletic. It depends on your vacation, but if you’re playing water volleyball, then a bikini isn’t very practical,” says McAlpin.

How to choose the best towel to pack – and how to make it do double duty

McAlpin recommends microfiber travel towels. “They’re thin and they pack down to the size of a paperback book. I use a “large” one – it’s 91 by 150 centimetres. These towels dry quickly. I also use it as a blanket on the plane.”

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How to pack sunscreen, perfumes and other volatile liquids – and why you should never carry a full bottle

McAlpin’s tip is to never fill the bottle all the way to the top. “In order to prevent leaks with liquids, only fill your bottle three-fourths of the way and then squeeze out the excess air, then screw on the lid. This creates a vacuum. And if you buy a new sunscreen for your trip, use some of it first and then squeeze out the excess air. I also put all my bottles in double Ziploc bags just in case.”

Leung recommends bottle atomizers like Travalo spritzers for perfume because “large perfume bottles will either get confiscated or will break and spill all over your checked luggage. There are handy travel-sized spritzers that can be filled with small amounts of perfume for your trip.”

Parker Hill opts for solid versions of her travel toiletries. “I buy solid shampoos, conditioners, lotions and perfumes from LUSH. I also pick up solid sunscreen. I do this because otherwise, I always manage to leave at least one cap only partially screwed on and then it’s all over my bag.”

How to pack jewelry – and why envelopes, straws and toothbrush holders will help

Bond recommends buying jewelry envelopes that you can find at closet supply stores. “You hang your necklaces in this pouch. I have an orange Paisley one that really stands out so I never forget to pack it. The other thing is I pack the shoes I will be wearing the day I leave the hotel with this jewelry envelope in the safe. I do this so that when I leave, I don’t forget to empty my safe.”

McAlpin offers a way to avoid those frustrating chain kinks and knots in necklances: “I thread my necklaces through a plastic drinking straw and then pack that in a toothbrush holder.”

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On the next page: Why you should pack like MacGyver (Duct Tape is involved)…

expert-summer-long-packing-tips.jpgHow to store and pack your tech gadgets – and what kind you should bring

“I have a hard case for everything. Then I put that hard case in a plastic bag just in case someone else’s water bottle leaks,” says McAplin. “I use Baggallini bags and the edges are lime green, but they’re clear so I put all my adaptors in one. My iPad and magazines fit in the large-sized bag. Airport security will love you for using these.”

Leung rolls up the cords for all her gadgets neatly with twist ties or Velcro strips “so that they don’t tangle. Then I place them between softer materials in my suitcase.”

“I love my Kindle because it’s small and light and has hundreds of books on it,” says Parker Hill. “I also travel with an unlocked smart phone so I can easily buy a local SIM card if I’m travelling internationally. Don’t forget the chargers and converters if you’re travelling internationally.”

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How to pack like MacGyver – and why Duct Tape (of course) is key

Marybeth Bond suggests packing some duct tape wrapped around a pencil “because if you break your favourite sunglasses or a strap on your sandal, it could be ruinous, but not if you have some Duct Tape.”

How to pack in case of an airport security inspection – and why clear plastic bags are key

“When you know you have to be organized in case of an airport security check, it makes you more organized,” says McAplin. “I put everything in clear plastic bags so in case security has to search something, it’s easy for them. I put my underwear in plastic bags because I don’t want people touching my underwear. And if they pull out a plastic bag, they can see underwear and can throw the bag back in the suitcase instead of pulling out every single item.”

Read More:
Summer travel guide: 10 more must-reads

What to pack: Summer city getaways
What to pack: Summer beach escapes

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Expert summer packing tips