Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Packing wisdom from frequent jet setters.
April 6, 2012 8:34 PM   Subscribe

How To Pack.
posted by straight_razor (52 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even though the tips in the video are nothing new to me, there is something about the understated and straight-to-the-point nature of it that I appreciate.

Things that I do, that this video reinforces: posted by asnider at 9:06 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Roll, don't fold

Seriously?

This changes everything.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:10 PM on April 6, 2012


Feels like the same guy under three different disguises, doesn't it?
posted by jcolombo at 9:15 PM on April 6, 2012


Roll, don't fold

Protip: This works for bureau drawers as well.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like to pack lightly; but with size 15 feet I'm never packing more than one pair of shoes more than I'm wearing, let alone packing them in their own bag...
posted by Earthtopus at 9:23 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


stuffing ties in your shoes? must not walk around a lot, or have non-stinky feet.

i would like to see a woman's version; i love the one-bag philosophy but have never seen a woman post about packing everything in one bag and still look stylish.
posted by mlo at 9:26 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like to pack lightly; but with size 15 feet I'm never packing more than one pair of shoes more than I'm wearing, let alone packing them in their own bag...

This gets me thinking that a bigger person should be able to carry bigger object, and therefore should have a proportionally bigger piece of luggage. Maybe Mulberry will start doing their bags in sizes. Big and tall bags. Visa versa?
posted by straight_razor at 9:27 PM on April 6, 2012


They don't appear to pack underwear. Is that the secret?

The second guy's got a giant case for toiletries. Space efficiency fail. A ziploc bag saves a lot of space and gets you through airport security faster.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:40 PM on April 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like to pack lightly; but with size 15 feet I'm never packing more than one pair of shoes more than I'm wearing, let alone packing them in their own bag...

I feel your pain here. I wear size 13 or 14 depending on the shoes, and I can't imagine bringing more than two pairs when I travel, including the ones on my feet the day I'm traveling. Typically, I'll wear my dress shoes, and pack athletic shoes or sandals each inside a plastic grocery bag - if I bring a second pair of shoes at all. I pack underwear and socks inside any packed shoes. On the rare occasion that I actually need to bring them, I'll pack a tie flat between two shirts, or rolled and stuck in a corner of the bag.

Oh, and by all means, roll if at all possible. I've found that it roughly doubles my bag capacity.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:40 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The second guy's got a giant case for toiletries. Space efficiency fail. A ziploc bag saves a lot of space and gets you through airport security faster.

The men in the video all appear to be based in Europe, which has less-asinine airport security requirements.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:41 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


They don't appear to pack underwear.

The second guy seems to have underwear sitting in his bag. He doesn't comment on them, but they're there.
posted by asnider at 9:43 PM on April 6, 2012


No info on how to sneak liquor on to a cruise ship. I am disappoint.
posted by Splunge at 9:56 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always travel wearing at least seven pairs of underwear.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


They don't appear to pack underwear. Is that the secret?

Underwear. Three pairs. Production, backup, backup backup. Rotate production and backup, wash in sink nightly.
Socks. Three pairs. See above.
Towel. Always have a towel.

Never check luggage. Be efficient. Always be prepared.

You're welcome.
posted by tracert at 10:02 PM on April 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


My friend's mom and aunt had everything FedEx'd to them on their Euro vacation. Shoes, clothes, personal effects. Then they FedEx'd back the used stuff instead of having them laundered. No packing required!
posted by porcupine at 10:08 PM on April 6, 2012


My friend's mom and aunt had everything FedEx'd to them on their Euro vacation. Shoes, clothes, personal effects. Then they FedEx'd back the used stuff instead of having them laundered. No packing required!

That seems neither cheap nor convenient.
posted by asnider at 10:38 PM on April 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have rolled everything for years, and stuffed my size 14 shoes full of small things and wrapped it all in a grocery bag. The main challenge I face is that I am not a European creative, and even though I own the same shirt as in the video it would never dawn on me to pair it with that jacket and look that good.
posted by cgk at 10:40 PM on April 6, 2012


This is much more my packing style right here, because fuck cufflinks, where do you pack your snacks and beer?
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:46 PM on April 6, 2012


This gets me thinking that a bigger person should be able to carry bigger object, and therefore should have a proportionally bigger piece of luggage. Maybe Mulberry will start doing their bags in sizes. Big and tall bags. Visa versa?

Sure, but that doesn't make airplane storage any larger, or underneath the seat in front of you, or ease the process of navigating an crowd of grumpy travelers. Bigger bag /= packing light, unfortunately. And don't even get me started on the fact that my femurs are longer than the space between seat backs and the neck rest juts out into the middle of my back...
posted by Earthtopus at 10:50 PM on April 6, 2012


i would like to see a woman's version; i love the one-bag philosophy but have never seen a woman post about packing everything in one bag and still look stylish.

Nobody makes a habit of calling me stylish, but I almost never pack more than one bag. I think the secret is multiple-use items: things that can be dressed up or down with jewelry, or things that can reasonably be used more than once. Things made of non-wrinkling fabric can also just be smushed in there. And generally, things that can only be used once are small-- just pack enough of them! One of the guys in the video appeared to pack an absurd number of shoes-- I don't see why anyone would need to pack more than two (dress shoes and sandals/boots); you'll already be wearing your walking shoes, and you can reuse shoes as many times as you like.

I'm not much for washing things in the hotel sink unless there's some kind of mishap or I'm traveling for more than a week (for the latter I'd plan on using a machine/service). I went on a 3-week trip to Japan with a medium carry-on case and a small messenger bag, and only washed clothes once. The most extreme light packing I've done was a train trip to Vancouver from DC, where I packed everything for a week into what should rightly have been an overnight bag, including a travel towel and journal and camera. Plus a travel blanket that I strapped to the top. I was fine. :)
posted by zennie at 10:55 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That seems neither cheap nor convenient.


Absolutely.

But his aunt had a big discount with FedEx. As for convenience, I doubt I'd do the same given the chance but in their case it allowed them the luxury of having a varied wardrobe and I guess that was a big deal for them.
posted by porcupine at 11:02 PM on April 6, 2012


I used to roll. Now I layer. So, I put several pieces of clothing together and then fold them (sometimes not until they're in the bag). Makes no sense to me but it works. I also travel with one bag (this one) for up to 10 days and I rarely do laundry. Admittedly, I wear a lot of T-shirts but I also travel with 3 pairs of shoes, 10 pair of underwear/socks.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:14 PM on April 6, 2012


cgk: "I have rolled everything for years, and stuffed my size 14 shoes full of small things and wrapped it all in a grocery bag. The main challenge I face is that I am not a European creative, and even though I own the same shirt as in the video it would never dawn on me to pair it with that jacket and look that good."

My problems started when I tried to roll up my son when we went to Vegas. Crazy laws.
posted by Splunge at 11:43 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't forget to pack a tiny screwdriver, in case you're in a dodgy hotel and need to hide your passport in the television.
posted by mammary16 at 1:39 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this something my valet needs to read?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:47 AM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is a good technique: Pack for Weeks in a Carry-on
and for comparison Mr Bean shows how not to do it.
posted by Lanark at 2:51 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A bit disappointing, to be honest! A 3-4 day business trip has got to be the easiest thing in the world to pack for, of course they can do it light. I was hoping for hardcore tips...

More challenging is a 2+ week trip involving hot and cold climates with a laptop and photography gear. I've got this down to a medium-sized wheeled suitcase and a small waterproof messenger bag (camera + lenses) which can be put into a larger shopping bag (envirosax) along with the laptop when airport staff demand that I carry only one piece of hand luggage. I prefer a messenger bag to a backpack because it's suitable for urban as well as rural exploration without sticking out too much as a tourist.

I use a compression sac to crush my socks and underwear down to a more manageable size in the suitcase - while it might be slightly more efficient to push them in between everything else, that makes repacking every morning while travelling around a total pain in the ass.

Roll clothing, yes - but also prefer specific fabrics. I have a lot of merino tops because they stay warm when they're wet, they dry fast, and they don't pick up odours as fast as other materials. For long trips (over 2 weeks) don't even attempt to bring enough clothing for every day, washing is going to have to happen anyway - just pack for 9-10 days. I occasionally hand-wash in hotels, but generally just use a local laundry place every week or two instead - hand washing is only good when you have time to dry the clothes too before packing up and moving on (and really, who wants to spend valuable exploration time washing clothes?)

Liquid toiletries are decanted into small rigid plastic bottles with screw-tops to avoid otherwise inevitable unwanted expulsions. I top-up from complementary hotel supplies when necessary. Other essentials are 5 metres of paracord, a roll of electrical tape, a penknife or small leatherman type gadget and the smallest lightest folding umbrella I could find.

My only consistent packing mistake has involved the well-intentioned circumnavigation of the globe twice carrying a pair of size 11 running shoes that were never used. Too optimistic about my desire to exercise.

(Regarding my passport, I would much prefer to have it on my person and leave a copy in the hotel room... I've certainly found novel places to stash lenses, electrical gear and spare money in all levels of hotel room though - very hard to tell which ones have dodgy staff.)

Also, this may be paranoia but: If your suitcase has a zip, don't pack anything valuable in it and don't bother locking it. It can be opened easily anyway and by locking it you lose a lot of plausible deniability if a rogue baggage handler uses it in a drug trafficking attempt.
posted by dickasso at 3:09 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


But do lock bags you put in overhead compartments on planes. I've been doing that since a nice mobile phone was stolen from mine on an Air France flight about ten years ago. Grr.
posted by dickasso at 3:12 AM on April 7, 2012


Did the second guy really suggest packing your suit roughly and get it laundered when you arrive? Someone should scrutinize his expense claims.

Back in the original dotcom boom, I read of someone who didn't pack clothes, just shopped at the Gap in every town he arrived in and (he claimed) had them washed and donated to charity when he left.
posted by epo at 3:26 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


First, is anyone else slightly disappointed that this was not a video on how to get a nice, realistic bulge in your pants?

It does seem to be "how to pack lightly for business trips that are relatively short when you have a lot of money to buy services/things you have forgotten." I can manage up to about 10 days with one gym bag. The key, as people have said, is to pack things you can use in various ways and figure out when/where/how often you can do laundry. It also helps to plan so that, if you need a sports coat, for example, you can wear it on the plane. You also need to figure out how to get stuff home, if you are on vacation and may buy things.

They guy packing three pairs of shoes just boggled my mind. Shoes are a huge space suck -- if you are taking three pairs, you are not packing "lightly." "Lighter," maybe, but I am not sure what face I would show if you told me what you used to pack.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:30 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I pack, it's usually for a stint of eight to ten days (indeed, I'll be going off next week to spend nine days in an Italian convent. Yes, yes, Sister Josephine. Don't ask). For a long time I was taking individual items and stuffing them into the case, and it was a huge mess, however organised I tried to be. What changed my life was discovering the square net bags that Muji sells - so all my shirts can go in one, all the underwear in another and so forth. Then I have several blocks to pack in the suitcase, which is a lot easier.

When I get there, if there's space (which isn't always the case), I unpack all the clothes, and as the days pass, they get put back into the holding bags. Except the underwear, which is stuffed into ziploc bags. That makes a huge difference, by the way. Anyway, that way, the packing to return is something that is part of the daily clothes-management process.

But the principle of gathering things into separate containers, which are then put into the bag was a revelation.

Anything longer than ten days, and washing clothes needs to be factored into the equation, which makes everything a lot more complicated, of course.
posted by Grangousier at 4:44 AM on April 7, 2012


/chuck everything in suitcase
/arrive at hotel, empty case into dry cleaning bag
/come home to closet full of laundered, pressed clothes
/add 'incidentals' to invoice
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


A ziploc bag saves a lot of space and gets you through airport security faster.

Nthing the ziplock bag because it also contains spills better. That said, the thing that gets you through airport security the fastest is taking the train.
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree, DU, although taking the train from, say, Boston to Reykjavik, requires extremely specialized packing techniques.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:47 AM on April 7, 2012


Always have a towel.

Essential for achieving maximum hoopy froodness.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't take this guy seriously because he sounds exactly like Ricky Gervais. I keep thinking every sentence he says is sarcastic.
posted by dfan at 7:11 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bundle packing is the way to go for business-type clothes. Layers of dry-cleaning bags between wrinkle-prone things can make the bundle even better. I've traveled to many two-suit interviews with this method. Plus, it's kind of fun to just grab the bundle out of the suitcase and be mostly unpacked in just a couple of minutes.
posted by BlooPen at 7:12 AM on April 7, 2012


A friend of mine routinely travels to Europe for months at a time with literally no luggage. When asked how he does it, he says, "You know that they sell clothes there, right?"
posted by Etrigan at 7:12 AM on April 7, 2012


i would like to see a woman's version; i love the one-bag philosophy but have never seen a woman post about packing everything in one bag and still look stylish.

Academichic did a number of posts about how to pack efficiently.
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 7:22 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


My traveling life definitely got easier once I had enough disposable income to buy extra things as I need them, but buying a whole bunch of things on a trip means I either have to ship them home, throw them away, or also buy luggage. In the last case, I would need a new apartment to house all that luggage....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:25 AM on April 7, 2012


i would like to see a woman's version; i love the one-bag philosophy but have never seen a woman post about packing everything in one bag and still look stylish.

Extra-Petite did a recent post on Packing Tips for Business Trips. Further advice in the comments from readers.
posted by posadnitsa at 7:32 AM on April 7, 2012


Roll, don't fold

Seriously?

This changes everything.


This is a tip my grandfather shared with me a long while back. He had been the world traveler setting-up-factories-in-remote-places guy, and was a traveling pro. I felt like I had been admitted to a secret club.

Other tips that I learned from various people:

1- Yes, wear your suit on the plane. Or at least the jacket, as pants can be folded/rolled pretty easily. (Unless you had just spent 36 hours in a sauerkraut cannery, in which case, the people on the plane will look at you funny. See above. True story.) Even if you don't really need to bring a suit or jacket, wear something like a sportcoat on the plane. Having lots of pockets makes it easy to carry passports, tickets (old school now, I guess) and whatnot. Don't keep anything in your pants pockets. When you go through security, just take the jacket off and throw it in the bin. One and done.

1b- You may not want to carry a towel, but do carry a fairly substantial handkerchief as a passable substitute.

1c- Airport Socks. (Or sandals or crocs or similar.)

1d- Put all your carry-on stuff in ziplock bags, inside the regular bag. Or one of those clear prison/high school backpack things. If/when your stuff needs to be gone through, you can empty out and collect it all back up just by grabbing the few bags and stuffing them into your carryon. (This includes your laptop bag- put all the wires and stuff in a ziplock. Or buy one of those airport friendly laptop bags that unzip flat.)

1e- Worried about your notebook/iPad getting wrecked by jostling and such, but hate carrying around bulky padded cases? Just surround your computer with a couple of substantial legal pads or bound documentation.

2- Pack your end-of-life underwear, and discard it before you leave. Makes room for the inevitable stuff you need to return with.

3- The FedEx thing can work in some situations, especially now that they are charging for luggage. If done thoughtfully, you can make it work well and not too expensively. Tip: don't use overnight, instead, pack what you can early and send it three-day right to your hotel, arriving before you do. You might even be able to send it to a will-call window at the airport.

4- Take a couple-three garbage bags with you. These will come in handy for sorting soiled clothing, keeping dirty shoes off of clean clothes, sequestering damp towels from clean clothes, etc.

5- Computer data stuff: never rely on anything. Encrypt the computer, carry important data backed up on flashdrives and/or via Dropbox. If you are really feeling paranoid, or the presentation just HAS to go right and just HAS to use YOUR computer, clone the hard drive onto a second one and carry both separately. If the HDD in your computer fails, just swap them out. Or, using some kind of cloud server or Citrix access back to the home office, make sure you can do the presentation from any machine that can access the remote desktop.
posted by gjc at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like to pack lightly; but with size 15 feet I'm never packing more than one pair of shoes more than I'm wearing, let alone packing them in their own bag...

With size 15s, why don't you just pack everything inside the shoe then just check the shoe?

*ducks*
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:42 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was kind of hoping it would be this kind of packing.
posted by latkes at 9:08 AM on April 7, 2012


I know all these men are supposed to be the sophisticated american stylish males but every time I see videos starring men wearing these ultraconservative outfits I can't help but be reminded of the armada of inoffensive, old, conservative, grey teachers I had in my german high school. bland, boring, stuffy.

I will never be able to go for that style. it's just so awful to me.
posted by krautland at 9:33 AM on April 7, 2012


Missing:

Do NOT bring cotton underwear & socks. Cotton holds moisture like a peat bog, and will make your packed & repacked goods smell the same.

Nylon/lycra undies, and if you can't find comfy poly socks, light wool socks. You can wash them in the sink if need be, and drip-dry them over the heater or on the sill if it's sunny (saving precious daytime having-fun time for actual fun, instead of spending it in a laundry).

Ditto for blue jeans, the heaviest possible pants, that will remember a 5-minute cloud burst for days...
posted by IAmBroom at 10:00 AM on April 7, 2012


I can't take this guy seriously because he sounds exactly like Ricky Gervais.

You realize, of course, that there are three different men in the video, right?
posted by asnider at 10:22 AM on April 7, 2012


T'heck with what goes in the bag - I want bag #1 (leather duffel) and the second suitcase (bag #3). I'm sure each one costs a bajillion dollars. *drool*
posted by deborah at 3:22 PM on April 7, 2012


.....it's for this reason alone that I kinda wish I'd been born a man.

I think I'm just going start subscribing to a female version of the male dress code. I'm kinda done with the whole heels thing (they always hurt at some point), and the fact that not all necklines match up together, and how one supposedly has to have a ton of accessories which only match up to so many outfits.

Fuck that nonsense. >.<
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:58 PM on April 7, 2012


Unless you had just spent 36 hours in a sauerkraut cannery, in which case, the people on the plane will look at you funny.

Airport Socks. (Or sandals or crocs or similar.)

Wear crocs without socks and you will smell like the sauerkraut cannery in a few hours.
posted by Splunge at 4:44 PM on April 7, 2012


> i would like to see a woman's version; i love the one-bag philosophy but have never seen a woman post about packing everything in one bag and still look stylish.

I don't know if I would qualify as stylish but I used to go on weeklong business trips in Europe and the U.S. with a laptop case and a carry-on bag. I wore my suit (and coat in winter), and packed extra pants, cardigan twin sets and some extra tops in the carry-on. Depending on the location and clime of my destination, I would also pack workout clothes and running shoes.

Before starting to pack for a trip, I would sit down and make a grid on a piece of blank paper, with columns for each day of the trip, and each column split into two rows, labeled "AM" and "PM". Then in each box I wrote down my planned outfit for the day, down to the shoes and socks. If there were no separate evening plans, the PM box would stay blank, otherwise I would write in what I expected to be wearing in the evening. On the initial pass of my packing plan, I would just write in something like "pant suit" or "blazer & pants". After that initial pass I would fill in detail with actual items in my wardrobe, making sure I wore each large item more than once (accessories and evening items were an exception). Then I wrote in everything else I thought I would need to take on this trip, then crossed out anything that wasn't essential or taking with me would be more trouble than buying at my destination. This packing list then became my checklist for checking that I had indeed packed everything I needed for the trip, but only what was necessary. If I had room left over I sometimes threw in an extra knit top or two, but usually I never actually ended up using these extra items.

So it's not just a matter of rolling t-shirts and stuffing small items into one's shoes. It's also only packing what is needed.
posted by needled at 6:59 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty unimpressed with any of these guys, but the last one is hilariously bad and inefficient. The bag itself is handsome, but completely impractical; hard luggage is heavy, expensive, and inflexible by design, which is three-strikes-and-you're-out for me. Also, dude PACKS three pairs of shoes? He needs four pair for a business trip, and none of them are athletic? WTF?

I'm a pro at the 3-to-4 day trip. I do it a lot, and I never, ever check a bag. It's not hard, but a few pointers help:

* As noted, plan to re-use and re-wear.

* Choose shirts, pants, jackets, and ties for flexibility when traveling. My favorite slacks are more interesting, in muted plaids or tweeds, but they're bad for travel because they're too distinctive to easily wear twice in a week, and won't go with as many shirts.

* Brown shoes or black shoes for a trip. Choose. You don't need both, but don't be the guy who packs an outfit that clearly needs one when you only took the other.

* While I never wear them at home, I prefer the modern all-cotton-but-no-iron shirts for travel. It's one less thing to worry about, and they're easier to wear twice.

* Doing all this with a suit and a few shirts is actually pretty easy, but beware the temptation to wear ONLY the suit all week. Give it a day off between wears; not even the most hardcore of light-packer gurus would suggest you needed to wear the same thing all week. The trick here is that the jacket of a neutral blue or black or even grey suit can be worn separately as a blazer. It's 100% kosher, and then all of a sudden you've got more flexibility.

* Ex Officio underwear is expensive, but worth it. Comfy, breathable, and made to facilitate handwashing and hand-drying on long trips.

* I'm still looking for a good line of hot-weather breathable dress travel socks. Thin wool is still wool -- breathable but warm. Cotton is comfy until you start sweating.

* I like Eagle Creek for biz travel luggage. The "folder" inserts are great for slacks and shirts, and the bags are particularly lightweight and robust -- and the warranty is delightful.
posted by uberchet at 11:32 AM on April 9, 2012


« Older Sherry Turkle believes that as we expect more from...  |  Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter o... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments