How to Pack a “Non-India Suitcase”

Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who could just throw some stuff into a bag, get on a plane, reach their destination, and all the while be fun and enjoyable. Instead, I turned out to be one of those people who is over-organized, makes 10 lists before she goes on a trip, worries that she forgot something, has plane anxiety, is overwhelmed in airports, actually does forget something, and when everything finally seems okay – can enjoy it.

Out of all of this, there is one thing I do pride myself on – avoiding the infamous India Suitcase. The India Suitcase is an overstuffed, overweight, massive bag that brings migraines and sore arms to anyone taking it and to those in customs. When I first got out of college, I had a job where I traveled at least once or twice a month, for a year. Each time I went I learned how to pack so that I was taking exactly what I needed and nothing more, thus I’ve mastered packing the non-India Suitcase.

I’ll be heading to London tomorrow and since it’s my first international trip in over 14 years – I thought I’d get a jump start on my packing. Last night, I went ahead and pulled various pieces out of my closet and placed them on a rolling rack so I could see what I was working with. I wish I could tell you guys exactly what to pack if you’re taking a trip, but unfortunately it really depends on where you’re heading and how long you’ll be going for. The things you would pack for a 3-day trip to Miami are going to be completely different than what you would pack for an 11-day trip to London.

My Steps for a non-India Suitcase

1. Make a couple of lists of all the things you want to take. I usually make a Clothes/Outfits and Personal Items list. (Personal items include toiletries, electronic gadgets and other miscellaneous things).

2. Lay out all the outfits you want to take to see what you’re working with.

3. Start narrowing down your choices by picking pieces that can be mixed with each other to create different outfits and start eliminating other unecessary items. For example, on this trip I’ve taken a charcoal gray top, pink skirt, tan jacket, dark blue jeans, and boots. I can actually get two complete outfits out of this (1) charcoal top, pink skirt, tan jacket, boots (2) charcoal top, tan jacket, jeans, boots. They’re simple but accessories can always be added to complete the outfits.

After I made a list of the oufits I wanted to take I went ahead and chose 21 pieces of clothing. It may seem a lot, but I’ll be gone for 11 days and this makes at least 13 outfits.

Tip: Throw in one or two items as back-ups. You never know when you might spill, rip, lose or just not want to wear something.

5. Don’t forget accessories! They’re a great way to change up your outfit or transition from day to night and barely take up room or weight. Since, the weather in London is still in the 50s – I’ve packed a few scarves, 2 hats, gloves, leggings, and jewelery. As far as jewelery goes, I’m taking a couple of necklaces, a bracelet, and a few sets of earrings. I figured I wouldn’t be wearing bracelets all that much since I’ll be wearing long-sleeves. If I were going to the beach – it would be completely different – my jewelery would include more bracelets in addition to shades, flip flops, headbands, fedora, etc. (Yes, those socks have skulls on them – I needed long ones for my boots!)

6. Take a purse that is versatile – one that will go with everything and that can be used day or night. The one I have above is by Guess and can be converted to a sling purse and then if the strap is taken off you can carry it by the handles. Or take two light weight bags – one for the day and one for night.

7. Make-up. Ladies – there is absolutely no need for you to pack your Caboodle. First of all, you’re not going to wear it all and secondly, it can take up alot of weight in your bag. Here is a list of make-up that I suggest packing – of course, some girls will want to take a few extras but these are just staple items:

  • Compact
  • Concealer
  • Blush/bronzer (It’s a good idea to buy the kind that comes in a combo – it’ll be one less item you carry).
  • Eyeshadow (Buy one of those little compacts that come with a few colors in it and can be worn for day/night make-up).
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Travel size make-up brushes – Travel Brush Set + Bag – Target – $14.99
  • Makeup remover towelettes/cleanser – e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths – $3.00 These are AMAZING and you can actually buy them from Target.

8. Pack everything in your bag and weigh it. (Unless you’re only taking a carry-on – then I’m sure you’ll be fine with the weight of the bag).

9. Carry all your necessary items – passport, drivers licence, cell phone, money, credit cards, etc. in a purse/bag that you keep with you at all times.

10. If you’re going with a group of girls – try and coordinate with one another to see what each person can bring. This way you don’t end up with 10 hair straigteners, 10 blow dryers, 18 make-up brushes, 5 bottles of shampoo, etc.

I follow this list every time I’m going on a trip. It helps reduce the number of items I end up taking because I’ve actually planned everything out and physically put it all together so I can see what I’ll need every day.

I also suggest that everyone invest in a rolling rack to place your clothes on. Not only, is this great when you’re going on vacation but its also extremely useful to put various pieces on it so that you don’t forget that you have them.

Picking out outfits is always one of the hardest parts for me (besides actually sitting on a plane) and I’m always thrilled when I get it done early, pack it and forget about it.

With all of these pieces, my shoes, undergarments, night time clothes, items for my best friend, a few of her personal things, make-up AND toiletries – I was still under 50 pounds in one bag. I’m still going to take a carry on because let’s face it – I’ll be shopping there!

Now, if only I were already in London…

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