A Packing Philosophy

Packing is a topic and tip that never gets old. It’s one that we can all use a reminder of.

Many tips address packing methods, i.e., how to get your items into the bag, but I feel the method of packing is less important than a packing philosophy – what to take with you, etc. Here is the packing philosophy I’ve developed that has served me well over the years.

Start with the right bag

I made the mistake once of purchasing a bag that did not expand. Whether you check a bag or carry on, a bag that expands will allow you to bring back those extras (gifts and souvenirs) without having to purchase a second bag. My favorite type of bag is a portmanteau, one that has two equal sides. Having two equal sides allows me to pack more strategically.  And, a good carry-on bag should have outer pockets so you can stick to the carry-on rules of, 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item, and documents and electronics are easily accessible.

Then on to what to pack

Dark colors are always best because they show spills and stains less than lighter colors. If you feel you need to lighten your look or add color, do it with accessories. Stick to a color palette, or as Morell Howard’s aunt says…color cousins.

Follow with what not to pack

There’s a quote from Susan Heller that says … When preparing to travel lay out all your clothes and all your money, then take half the clothes and twice the money. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, have a color palette and select items that perform double duty – every article of clothing should go with at least two other things, better yet, every piece can be mixed and matched. This will certainly reduce the number of pieces you’ll need to pack. It will also reduce the number of shoes because one pair of dress shoes and one pair of casual shoes will go with your travel wardrobe. Leave the gym shoes at home, unless of course, you will work out.

Pack with preparation in mind

Check the weather of the destination and prepare for unexpected conditions. Your packing essentials should include an umbrella, a jacket or sweater, a crushable hat and a scarf, no matter the season. Also, prepare for unexpected activities. Too often, I’ve left my swimming suit at home because the itinerary didn’t call for it or it was winter, only to have an activity or opportunity to need one. We all know that swimming suits at the hotel souvenir shop are very expensive or one you wouldn’t otherwise wear. Prepare for pharmaceutical needs. Over the counter, drugs can also be expensive when traveling or something happens in the middle of the night. Think of those usual occurrences, e.g., headache, cold, fever and other aches.

Develop your own packing philosophy using these tips and you’ll always be ready to go and prepared.



  1. Leslie Eason
    March 10th

    Very informative. Thank you..

    • Ja'Vonne
      March 10th

      I’m happy you found the information helpful!