A Nomadic Girl’s Guide to Packing

Ever since I lived out of suitcases for a year while performing with a traveling children’s show, I’ve considered myself a bit of an expert when it comes to packing. In fact, a good portion of my life has been spent living with only what can fit in two suitcases. That’s all I had with me when I studied abroad, during my semester in New York, while on tour, and both times I moved to Hong Kong. It seems that most of the defining experiences of my life have come along with a strict limit on how much stuff I can have – perhaps a valuable lesson.

With my trip to Shanghai, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of my packing knowledge. Let’s get started!

IMG_1680These are the clothes I packed for my trip. When I’m going on a short trip ( a week or less), I like to plan out very specific outfits to wear because it prevents me from overpacking. Planning outfits that work with one or two pairs of shoes, as opposed to needing a different pair for each outfit, saves a ton of space in your suitcase. If traveling to a cold or mild destination, you’ll definitely be able to mix up your pieces and wear them more than once. This is a little harder in hot weather because no one wants to wear sweaty, smelly clothes! Luckily shorts and tank tops take up a lot less room in your luggage than jeans and turtlenecks.

Bringing a pashmina or large scarf is a must when traveling because they are so versatile. Even in the summer you don’t want to forget this essential piece! You can pack just one and use it to keep warm in a chilly air-conditioned room, to cover your head or shoulders if visiting a religious site where modesty is required, or even as a makeshift beach towel!


Although they take up a little extra space, having organizers for jewelry and toiletries makes your transition from suitcase to hotel room so much smoother, as you can just move the toiletries kit straight into the bathroom and the jewelry box straight into the safe. The larger toiletries kit will go into my checked luggage, but I’ll keep the jewelry box in my carry-on for safe keeping. I have two other small containers that go into my carry-on; one for dry toiletries items and medicines, and the other for any liquid or gel products that I will need during transit.  The liquids and gels go into a clear zippered bag for inspection at the airport.

IMG_1689Little reusable containers like these are great for packing products that come in large bottles without having to purchase the less economical travel size. I actually keep these small containers of hair gel and face scrub in my purse all the time so I can use them when I shower at the gym.

If you have any emergency products that you need sometimes, but not all the time, like allergy medicine or hydrocortisone cream for bug bites, you may want to consider bringing a small amount along, especially if you are traveling to a destination where these items could be difficult to track down. Pay attention to your body when you’re traveling and you’ll soon learn what products are on your personal must-have list. For example, although I rarely use them in my day-to-day life, I always travel with eyedrops because the recycled air on airplanes makes my eyes itchy and dry. I also make sure to bring along whatever nail polish I’m wearing because I hate having chipped nails!

IMG_1684Once you’ve laid out everything you’re bringing, it’s time to start packing your suitcase. If you know what order you’re going to wear your clothes in, pack them in reverse, so the clothes you’ll wear toward the end of the trip are at the bottom of your suitcase. This will prevent you from having to re-fold everything over and over during your trip. The zippered compartments you find in most suitcases are perfect for underwear and socks. I always pack a couple extra pairs of each. I also always pack a swimsuit because you never know if your hotel will end up having a to-die-for pool!

Don’t forget about the outfit you’ll wear on your travel day!  I like to plan my outfit ahead of time and have it ready beside my suitcase so there aren’t any surprises when I’m trying to rush out the door. There’s no time to iron when you have a plane to catch!

IMG_1687Last, but certainly not least, it never hurts to leave a reminder note on top of your luggage for those last-minute items that you can’t pack the night before, like your phone charger.

What are your favorite packing tips?

Bon voyage!

2 thoughts on “A Nomadic Girl’s Guide to Packing

  1. I like to create a capsule wardrobe of clothing items I can mix/match and layer into different outfits. The layering also allows me to control temperature, especially when I bring “cold weather gear” such as leggings and a silk long underwear top. I use the “Packing” app on my iPhone for reminders of last minute items.

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