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Overpacking can be stressful!
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It’s no secret that I am always on the road. Sometimes I travel near, often I travel far, but the bottom line is that I am as always traveling, and as a result, I am always packing—a reality that at times has become the bane of my existence. In fact, packing may be my least favorite part of travel altogether, which is in no small part due to my tendency to overpack (something that anyone who has traveled with me will readily attest to). That said, over the course of my travels, I have developed a few useful practices that have helped me become quite the efficient packer.

Last week, a good friend of mine suggested that I share a sort of ‘best of’ list that would illuminate some of my best packing practices. I thought that was a marvel idea, and so the following list of packing tips was born.

Tip #1: Make checklists. As with most things in life, a plan is useful. This may all sound a bit overzealous, but I make a list of my daily routine and then I write down a list of all the items I use each morning and every night. That list then becomes a checklist when I pack my toiletries. The list not only helps me make sure that I have everything I need when I am on the road, it alerts to me adjustments that I need to make (i.e. buying specific travel containers or travel size versions of products).

Hand Holding Laundered Shirts on HangersTip #2: Strategize. Look at what you will be doing each day and plan your wardrobe accordingly. I like to identify efficiencies. For instance, I always look for opportunities to mix and match ensembles. I’ll take a pair of black pants and look at ways to wear them on one day with a t-shirt and sneakers and then reinvent them later in a more formal way with a sweater, a nice shirt and an ascot.

Tip #3: Let the basics be your building blocks. Always but always pack the basics. I always pack white t-shirts, a pair of jeans, a good white button down, a pair of black pants and a pair of nice shoes that I can wear anywhere (a good loafer always suffices). And, if space permits, I throw in a good versatile blazer. With these basics you are automatically prepared for just about anything. From here, all you have to do is build out, and that makes packing much less daunting.

Tip #4: Never fear a plastic dry cleaners bag. Mega-author and Hollywood icon Jackie Collins once told me that she always packs her clothes in those plastic bags from the dry cleaners, because the bags tend to help prevent clothes from getting wrinkled in transit. I tried it, and I have been hooked ever since. Nowadays, I always wrap my dress shirts and blazers in cleaners bags, and when I land they’re in near-perfect shape and ready to wear with a minimum of prep. [Tip: You can purchase a whole roll of plastic garment wrap online so you don’t have to run to your local dry cleaner every time you need to pack.]

Tip #5: Double-sided tape will always have your back.Packing smart means anticipating problems, and double-sided tape can be both a problem solver and a real-life saver on the road. If you’ve ever pulled a garment out of a suitcase and discovered an unraveling hem or similar imperfection, double-sided tape can prove to be the penultimate last-minute fix. (It’s also an ideal solution to those annoying fl-away collars on shirts!)

Tip #6: Roll don’t fold. To roll or not to roll, that is the question. Well, I say roll! If you’re a confirmed overpacker like myself, rolling really does make the most efficient use of limited space. This is particularly true these days, as airlines make overpacking a potentially expensive affair thanks to excess baggage charges.

Serial-Overpacker-DownyTip #7: Wrinkle releaser is your friend. Sometimes, there’s just no time to iron. Worse yet, on occasion there is no iron readily available. Rather than look like a crumpled mess, keep a wrinkle releaser product like Downy Wrinkle Releaser on hand for quick fixes. Simply spray the wrinkle releaser onto the garment, tug the wrinkles out, allow the garment to dry. Easy peasy. As an added bonus, most wrinkle releasers also refresh garments after long trips during which your luggage has been stored in baggage holds wreaking of fuel fumes and the like.

Tip #8: Green is good, but paper isn’t necessarily bad. I try to be green and use as little paper as possible, however when I travel I still find that packing a paper copy of significant documents is extremely useful—especially in an emergency. As someone who has been evacuated from airports because of bomb scares, experienced delays that have lasted days and all manner of other interruptions, I’ve learned that those paper copies of travel documents can come in handy when there is no cell phone or WiFi service, there is a run on available outlets and every piece of equipment you own is running low on battery power.

Living Wells is also living smart, so there you have it—eight of my best tips for packing smart, even when you overpack. What are some of yours? Share your ideas with me on Twitter @TheDuaneWells and I’ll give them a go and add them to my next list—let’s just say we’ll call it “My Favorite Travel Tips 2.0.”

Until next time…Be well… Live Wells!