Guest Lecture: Emily of The Other Emily
Dear folks, I’ve snuck away for some much-needed family time. While I’m hanging in the South, here are some wise words on travel from the gorgeous and ever-organized Emily of The Other Emily. Her tips will have you packing like a pro! After you’ve put together your suitcase, take a trip over to her blog, where she documents her year in Europe, one impeccable outfit at a time. -E
Packing Like a Pro
by Emily of The Other Emily
Hi there! I’m Emily - not the tall-drink-of-water-Emily you may be used to, but author of the other emily and your first guest poster here on sartoriography while Emily’s on a well-earned vacation. I’m personally on a bit of a long-term vacation at the moment – I’m currently traveling Europe with my boyfriend on a fellowship, and we’ve now been on the road in one form or another for over six months. My time away from home (and my closet) has made me a little bit of a packing aficionado, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far on packing for a long trip.
1. Bring practical shoes
I know – gross, right? That phrase makes me cringe, but it’s true, probably the single most important packing decision is your shoes. Make sure you bring at least one pair of flat shoes that have real arch support. I thought I did a lot of walking in the US, but getting to and from my office in New York is *nothing* compared to the amount of walking I’m doing while traveling. I thought my ballet flats would be ok, but my feet start hurting if I walk more than an hour in those. It’s a good idea to have at least one other pair of shoes as well, in case the first ones get wet. In cooler weather, I really love boots for traveling, since they seem to dress up almost any outfit, and they’re easy to take off at airport security. Grab a pair or two of liner socks at REI or another outdoorsy store – you can get thin ones made of merino wool to wear under your regular socks, and they will make a HUGE difference in keeping your feet warm. It’s also not a bad idea to bring a pair of insoles – just make sure that if they are the gel kind, they’re not in your carry-on bag.
2. Know thyself
It sounds odd, but try to remember to pack the way you dress. One of the things I really miscalculated on my first go-around was the number of pants I brought vs. skirts – I always feel better in a skirt (and tights, if necessary), but for some reason I brought a ton of pants and practically no skirts or dresses. After three days of pants-wearing, I get totally bored with my outfits and find it harder and harder to decide what to wear. When I was packing, pants seemed more ‘practical,’ so I ignored what years of experience should have taught me about my style and I didn’t pack a lot of things I later wished I had. Think about what you like wearing at home, and pack that – odds are that’s what you’ll want to wear while traveling too.
3. Remember to remix
Try to pack items that can be worn in multiple ways and with several other items in your suitcase. If you have a certain sweater that you only like wearing with a particular skirt, odds are you’re only going to wear it once or maybe twice on your trip. If you bring things that have a little more versatility – like a jacket that can be belted, a dress that can layer over a button-down, or even a tee that looks good backwards – you’ll have many more options for ways to remix a few pieces into a lot of unique outfits. I generally find separates, cardigans, and button-down shirts easier to remix than dresses and t-shirts, and bright colors are more fun to mix and match than all-black or neutrals. Also, remember that when it comes to remixing, accessories are your friend. Belts, jewelry, scarves, and tights can totally make an outfit – and can usually all fit in a ziploc.
4. Treat your clothes right
I’ve tried out a few packing methods at this point, and it’s definitely worth doing a ‘test run’ at home to see what works for you. At the beginning of our travels, I liked to pack with the really big ziploc slider bags – I just put a few folded items in each bag, then sit on them to squish out the air while I zip them closed. It keeps things folded and can really save a ridiculous amount of suitcase space. However, it will also make things wrinkly, and depending on the size and shape of your bag, you can end up with some awkward, underutilized leftover spaces. Lately I prefer to roll the majority of my clothes. It requires a little less planning (no divvying things up into a set number of bags), and I can more easily utilize every square inch of suitcase space. As soon as you get to your destination, unpack. Try your best to hang everything up, or shake things out and refold them to go in drawers. Keeping your things out and organized makes it a lot easier to see what you have and makes it easier to get dressed. Also, your clothes will look (and smell) so much fresher, even after a few wears. It’s also not a bad idea to bring a stain stick with you in case of red wine mishaps.
5. Leave some room!
If you are anything like me, you will go shopping. And then, you will probably go shopping again. Try not to pack your bag so full that you can’t fit in any incredible new finds – the front flap of my suitcase has a pocket that doubles in size by unzipping a zipper, so I made sure not to use up that extra space when packing. I know I’ll probably use it soon enough – and plus, it’s always nice to feel like the lady with the smallest bag at the airport!