Nurture - November 19, 2018

How Not to Overpack this Holiday Season

It’s that oh so joyful and sometimes stressful time of the year. With many of us gearing up for holiday travel the worry over what to pack is ever so present. If you’re anything like me, then you’re a serial over-packer. As much as I’ve traveled, packing is just a skill I can not seem to finesse. Either I’m too overwhelmed to get it together (packing late at night before an early morning trip never works out well). I’m too nervous to leave anything behind because I’m sure I’ll be missing a piece that I absolutely need (entirely made up…not true!). Or, I’m not keeping it real with myself (the likelihood of me working out every day on a three-day weekend trip is slim to none. So there’s zero need to pack a ton of workout gear.). No matter what the length of the trip is or promise I make to myself (or to my poor bag-lugging husband) I always end up over packing! So for my most recent trip to New York City, I decided to reach out for some professional help. I called an old friend, Kristina Menji, stylist, closet organizer to celebrities like Mariah Carey and a 10-year veteran packing specialist.

“It’s all about determining the precise items to bring as well as utilizing the space correctly to have a stress-free trip,” says Menji.

Stress-free trip? Where do I sign up?

Below are Menji’s hacks to packing like a pro for any trip.

Determine the Weather and What You’ll Be Doing

Two major determinants of what to pack are the weather and the activities you’ll be partaking in during your trip. You want to be sure you’re packing items that serve a real purpose. For example, if you’re going somewhere cold but plan to spend most of your time traveling from place to place by car you’ll need fewer heavier items then let’s say if you’re going to be moving around on foot all day around New York City.

Speaking of footwear, pack logically. If there’s a ton of snow on the ground, you probably don’t need all three pairs of stilettos. Packing one classic pair of heels in a solid color will work. I always travel with a pair of these, and they carry me from meetings to dinners to any cocktail events.


Make A List

List making is a tool that will alter the way you get things done in all areas of your life but when it comes to packing it is essential, especially when you’re packing for the whole family. Some of the most common items forgotten are toothpaste, sunscreen, a first aid kit, and phone chargers.

While these are all small enough things that can be purchased while away, those expenses (and phone cords) add up. Making a list ensures you have everything you will need.

Try to make your list a few days in advance this way you have time to think things over and the time to edit your list.

Make Clothing Selections Based on a Capsule Wardrobe Format and then Photograph Your Selects

Capsule collections usually consist of 12 to 33, mix-and-match versatile pieces. According to Menji, the benefit to packing this way is the ability to interchange items to create multiple outfits for your trip. This with help you pack less but more efficiently. Once you’ve selected all your pieces, photograph them in predetermined outfit combinations so that you can minimize overthinking when it’s time to get dressed.


Roll, Don’t Fold

It’s a classic rule when it comes to packing. This way of packing occupies the least amount of space and makes it easier to see items, if you choose to leave them inside your luggage.

Use Packing Cubes and Shoe Bags

Packing cubes help maximize space and prevent wrinkles by keeping your clothes compressed. They also help determine where your things are when you need them and they’re a great way to keep your personal items discreet. “I like to use cubes for undergarments.” shared Menji.

Cubes also helpful for those who prefer to utilize hotel dressers, just move your cubes into the dresser drawers to keep items organized and sanitary.

When it comes to keeping things sanitary Menji is a stickler for shoe bags! “It is a number one must! I do this for sanitary reasons. You don’t want to pack your shoes open. You don’t know what’s on the bottom of them.” she says

While I prefer to use the fabric shoe bags I have collected from shoe purchases, Menji does prefer plastic ones. These are made specifically for travel and you can easily wipe them down with a disinfecting wipe.

Lavender Sachets

Small sachets of lavender tucked in between your clothes keep things fresh inside your luggage.

The scent of lavender is also extremely calming and helps you sleep better, so be sure to keep one close to your pajamas if you still have trouble while sleeping away from home, you can also place one of the sachets in your pillowcase.

Making these is pretty easy. Just pick up some lavender from a local market and place inside small mesh bags. If you don’t have time for a DIY project, you can easily purchase them here.


Laundry bag

I have to admit I didn’t bring a laundry bag along on trips before I had my daughter but I’ve since realized that having one is pretty necessary to keep things organized and clean. It’s also handy if you want to drop off your dirty clothes at a local wash and fold rather than paying for that pricey hotel service. I have a similar laundry bag to this one that I bought years ago when my daughter was born. It has two compartments, one which can be used to store wet clothes.

All in all my biggest take away from my session with Menji was that I need to get better at packing with purpose. Instead of bringing everything I love, I need to bring only the things that I will absolutely use.

Crossing my fingers, I’ll be able to implement these tips and tricks on my own when it comes time to pack for our Christmas trip later this year. Wish me luck!

Kristina Menji is a stylist, closet organizer and a 10-year veteran packing specialist. You can find more about her closet organizing journey here.

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