Packing Tips – Part II

In the previous post’s comments here, nearly five hundred of you shared your best packing tips for travel. In addition, several of you asked to see pictures of how I got all those items in the carry-on, so today, I’m sharing more tips.

This dress from Old Navy last year is so cool and comfortable; plus, I can wear it open as a duster with white jeans and a tank or partially buttoned as a swimsuit coverup.

As a side note: I hope this will be the last time you see the reflection of my neighbor’s house when I need to use the best available light to share a lesson or outfit. I have ordered a tall room divider for a plain background to allow you to better see and study outfits’ details.

I used one large and two medium packing cubes. First, I neatly stacked the tops and tanks, rolled them up from the bottom, then folded the arms over the top, folded them at the center, and placed them in a medium packing cube.

I repeated the same process with the dresses, pajamas, and white jeans to place them in the large packing cube. Next, I put bras, undies, a swimsuit, and scarves in the other medium cube. If you wear molded cup bras, layer them inside the first and then stuff the inside layer with your undies or socks to maintain the cup shape. Molded cups give a smooth, natural shape without extra padding. (I wear the Shapeez Ultimate style here.) Finally, I placed my shoes in shoe bags and put them at the carry-on’s bottom (wheel side), so they don’t crush anything above them. The flip-flops are for poolside and inside the hotel room only. (I always save the handy dust covers that come with handbags or shoes.)

The tote has plenty of room for the crossbody bag, skincare, makeup, documents, chargers, phone, camera, extra socks, etc. I use the shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and blow dryer provided by the hotel, or I pop into a Walgreens and buy a small size of what I need when I arrive.

Some of your excellent suggestions included wearing fresh outfits after your shower for the evening look and then repeating those elements more casually on the following day. One commenter used math to create the perfect packing formula. Pack two bottoms and four tops that all go together but are different enough to create eight unique looks. A cardigan, jacket, and scarves can significantly increase the number of outfits.

Wearing slip-on shoes while going through security is always a great idea, as is using disposable shoe covers so that your bare feet don’t touch the floor. Leave all your jewelry inside your tote until after you pass through security. (Never take anything irreplaceable with you on vacation.)

Several folks mentioned taking photos of your outfits and your luggage (if it gets lost). Packing outfits by day was another great suggestion. As well as, add a rainproof, hooded jacket.

Congratulations to Gayle Murphy! You are the winner of the beautiful earrings and scarf.

The shell and rattan earrings are here. Different colors of the shells are available. (Use the code SAS10 for $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)

Safe travels, everyone!

  1. Congratulations Gayle Murphy! Susan, you put so much into this amazing series! Helpful tips I will use.

  2. Great ideas, both from you and others. I always find over packing a problem so these suggestions should help.

  3. I enjoyed the previous blog and all the good suggestions. I’m wondering if your tote will fit under the seat in front of you on a plane without getting crushed. Also, it looks like the top doesn’t have a zipper—could something fall out during the security check or on the plane? I follow another style blog where there was an interesting discussion this week on bringing carry on luggage on a flight. There seem to be a number of people who are annoyed by those who require assistance stowing or retrieving items from the overhead bins. Surprising!

    1. Like a few others mentioned in the comments, we should always make sure we can lift our luggage over our heads. I have a large black leather tote from Coach that I usually take with me when I fly. It has a zipper top but seems too heavy for summer looks, so I wanted to show the straw tote, but you are correct that its open top isn’t very secure. As someone else mentioned, you can place a more secure smaller bag inside it for security and variety later.

  4. This post was so informative. Thank you Susan! I have always rolled each item in my cubes separately. A revelation to see you stack the individual garments and roll together. That saves room and a lot of time. I’ve been doing it “wrong” all these years! I like the idea of two pants and four tops. That makes good sense and gives you many options. Also congratulations to your winner! Both gifts are lovely and will be a nice addition to some vacation packing. Enjoy your week and the best to you and Mr. Mickey!

  5. I almost forgot! I have a suggestion for a topic and that is foot care. I’m noticing more of my friends are not taking good care of their feet. They do manage nail color, but not the care of the skin. I know as I’m aging my body care needs have changed. I think many of us could use a complete footcare routine. Thank you Susan for your consideration.

  6. Such an interesting blog topic! I think I make packing too complicated and stressful. I will try to follow your suggestions. Thank you!

  7. I wear lace up athletic shoes in case I have to make a run for it. I have a hard time limiting toiletries. I don’t wear makeup often but lots of skin care. What are your must have toiletries for traveling?

  8. Thank you for the travel post, some excellent ideas. One tip I forgot that’s made travel so much easier for me is to get TSA pre check. It saves time and hassle. No shoes taken off, no things out of you bag, and line is so much shorter.

  9. I use the packing cubes Susan. They are a life saver. However I roll each piece separately so I can see what I want to take out for the day.
    I open the cube and can see exactly what I want I also label each with a removable tag. I write on scotch tape which cube is dresses, pants etc. You really don’t have to take everything out of the cubes…just place them in a drawer. That way when you go to move, it is easy
    I do take my dresses and blouses out to hang but underwear, socks etc can stay in the cubes.
    This is for a long trip with big suitcases but my husband said when we started using them…
    “This is the best invention ever” We have different color cubes so not to confuse clothing.. We travel a lot!!

  10. I am now in my mid-70’s. I have not flown in a decade. I once could do the overhead bin easily but due to normal age-related wear and tear, degenerative changes, etc. I don’t believe I could accomplish the same without assistance now. Are you saying it is rude to not check my bags if I travel by plane?

    One other question I have about the packing cubes. Do they just help to compress the rolled garments? I am having a hard time understanding the need for them, as they seem to just take up more room but I have not tried them. I used your old You Tube video for packing guidance and found it very helpful. I am hoping you can enlighten me before I order some cubes that I possibly wouldn’t use.

    Finally, your comment about grammar police and fashion police caught my attention. I am not currently in the public eye and no longer write for the public. When I did, I always appreciated when spelling or grammatical errors were pointed out to me because I learned that way. It was a constant reminder to be on my toes. As to fashion, when a column writer is promoting fashion and being well-dressed, it would seem to me that not everyone would agree with one’s choices. As a long-term reader, I notice we only receive the positive. When I go clothes shopping, my best friend is not afraid to tell me, “No, sugar, that does nothing for you and in no time you will realize it yourself.”

    Thank you for these travel columns. I have picked up many ideas!

    1. If someone will help you lift your bag, that’s great, but I am prepared to do it myself.
      I use the packing cubes to help me keep things organized, but they aren’t necessary.
      When someone points out my mistakes, I’m grateful. However, there is a difference when the only comment someone ever leaves is nasty, negative, and nitpicky. I want to focus on the positive and share what I’ve learned without a fee or ads and in a neutral way since many of my readers have commented that they do not want to read negative comments or be told what they should and shouldn’t do or wear. I prefer that my site remain a peaceful and positive space.

  11. I pack a plain cotton knit tank type maxi dress when I travel. It can be worn as a dress, a swimsuit cover up or a nighty. I make sure I have a cardigan that will match or blend with the dress as well as other tops.

  12. Very nice to see how that all fit in there! Wow.

    I forgot to mention yesterday that I like the white Eagle Creek packing cubes because I write what outfit is in each cube on a white index card and I can see the description at a glance through the cube as the cubes are thin material. Does not work with colored cubes though. I also started putting a one or two gallon ziplock bag in each cube as I packed the clean outfit. When the day is over I put the dirty outfit in the ziplock inside the cube and put that outfit back in my suitcase with “dirty” written on an index card. No odors in suitcase with ziplocks and avoided using one big laundry bag that didn’t repack well into the suitcase! You could also pack a second color of packing cubes for dirty outfits but I prefer my index cards.

    Would love swimsuit ideas and sources for senior ladies if you could, thanks!

  13. When one is older, petite, with shoulder issues, no amount of independent “being prepared to do it myself” will cut it. Again, people who are not in those categories just don’t understand. I think when I fly again I will consider what others who are younger think about my lack of independence and check my bag so I don’t delay them.

  14. My daughter used to give packing demonstrations for Sharon Luggage and I learned to roll a lot of stuff. I also use packing envelopes,

  15. Susan,
    Love your posts. Such wonderful ideas on fashion, food and makeup. My question to you. I have purchased several of your beautiful scarves but fail to obtain the one you are wearing on Summer Packing Tips. Would you by chance have another like it?
    Thank you

  16. Pay attention to your planned airline’s carry-on luggage size & weight limits, especially for the specific aircraft in which you will be flying. The information is available on every airline’s website.
    An easy way to see if you can lift a carry-on suitcase (or, anything else!) into the overhead bin is to try placing your items on your closet overhead shelf.
    The shelves in my closets are 65″ above the floor. I am 63 years old & 5’2″ and I can place my suitcase easily, wheels in first (which is how you should always place your luggage in those bins). But, I also have a husband that is 6’5″!!
    I don’t think a fellow passenger would refuse a polite request for assistance with luggage bin placement from any senior! Courtesy, a smile & a simple thank you goes far!
    Also, don’t keep asking for help getting into a suitcase during a flight. That’s what the personal bag is for!

  17. Susan,
    I forgot to mention the other day that I always pack a mesh bag for machine washing delicate items. Also, I keep an extension cord in my bag so I don’t forget it. It almost always is helpful. I use compression packing cubes- if you carefully roll or fold items together, they actually come out of the bag pretty well.
    Thank you for another great post! I really appreciate the lack of annoying ads which clutter other blogs.

  18. Susan, don’t all your clothes need ironing when you unpack?

    Thanks for these tips. It will be very helpful if I ever get to go anywhere again. My husband wants to go nowhere anymore. We used to go to the beach for vacation but we live there now and he says ” why do we need to go anywhere. We are on vacation all the time now”. I just can’t make him understand that’s not the same.

    1. I hang my garments as soon as I get to the hotel. If something is creased, I either hang it in the bathroom while I take a hot shower or use the iron provided by the hotel. Do you ever go anywhere by yourself? Solitary travel is a balm for my soul.

  19. Helpful suggestions on packing.

    When you buy a new blouse, shirt, t-shirt, do you always stick to the same neckline?

  20. I have learned so much from your style and instructions. But besides that, I greatly appreciate that your site is not cluttered with ads that pop in and out, causing me to address them and become distracted from your message (the reason I’m reading it in the first place!) Thank you for sparing us and for sharing your wisdom and outlook without gaining financially. We are truly blessed to be your readers.

  21. I love your blog! Unfortunately, from past and horrible experience I know the hotel hair dryers don’t always work or there isn’t one…even in our wonderful hotel in Paris our first trip. And, the hotel when my son got his commission was in the middle of no-where Virginia and the hair dryer literally fried in my hand. A replacement was not to be found. That day I had to wear a hat since I had already washed my hair!!! You seem to get by with so much less than I do. Do you take an iPad, Kindle or book? What make-up do you take to travel? Hair brushes? What about medicine and supplements? Do you take those on your trips? If so, in the bottle or in a sorter? It’s those little things that always “add up” in my luggage.

    Thanks again. I really enjoy reading what you have to say. Coming to you from Dallas, Texas.

    1. Hi Cyril. I don’t take any medications. I’m happy to let my hair air dry if there is no other option. I comb it in the style I wear and try not to disturb it too much until it is dry. I sometimes take a small book to read when it is time to fall asleep, but I am usually on the go for the whole day when I travel. I never take more than mascara, lip balm, one eye shadow, and eyeliner pencil, and I take the mini version of my skincare. I’ve become very low maintenance in the last few years.

  22. One thought about carry-on vs. checked bags: On a recent trip I had paid to bring a carry-on, but it was heavy and I knew I would need help lifting it above my head. The flight was full and the gate attendant asked for volunteers to check their carry-ons at the gate for free. Bingo! Problem solved.

  23. These two posts have been so helpful Susan … thank you so much ! I was just wondering if you’ve ever been on Safari and if you have any tips specifically for this type of holiday ? Safari packing seems very different from a regular summer holiday and I am hoping to keep my bags light …any advice gratefully received please ! Thanks Julia from England

  24. Thanks, those were great suggestions for packing. I have always done the same thing with under garments in separate bags. If they check bags, at the airport this way they do not have to handle them. I always put our shoes in bags also. Even at home before putting shoes in the closet I let them set out for a day and then wipe the soles with Lysol wipes when dry then put them away.

    Thanks again,
    Diana Scott

  25. Great tips! So many good ideas (packing shoes on the bottom!) I recently bought and used cubes for a vacation (just returned). I’ll definitely keep and reference both posts for next time!

  26. Susan, great tips. I always have an itinerary, with flight numbers, car rentals, hotels, phone numbers, etc., and I email a copy to our sons and our siblings. Before leaving I also do a computer search of our first stop (or only stop) and find the nearest drug store or variety store, so once we are there I go pick up toothpaste, hair spray or other small toiletries I might need. I don’t get expensive brands, because I use what I need and throw away before the flight home. I only take black pants and only need 2 pairs of black shoes. I buy a pair of rubber flip flops at the drugstore and leave them behind. I keep my passport, credit card and driver’s license in a small bag on my person. I have a lovely Cole Hahn raincoat that folds into a small bag. Large compression bags are great for coats if you’re traveling to a cold climate. I use compression bags more than cubes now. They take up very little space. One more: keep most of your cash securely in your bag, but put a few bills in a pocket to use when you’re shopping for trinkets or getting a snack. That way you don’t have to pull out all your money for others to see. Sorry, hope this isn’t too long. Rick Steves has some great tips on his website.

  27. Do you only wear the shapeez in the winter? It seems like it would be extremely hot in any of the warmer months. I used to have one that I wore for dressy functions, but decided I’d rather be comfortable thank try to hide that extra bump or two. I found it very restrictive and stifling. I’m in my 70s now and not so vain.

    1. Shapeez bras are comfortable all year round for me. However, I tried wearing a regular bra last year, and I was shocked at how very uncomfortable that band and straps were.

  28. Very helpful post! Thanks for presenting the positive side of life. . The world can be a negative place. I Just wanted to say I have flown several times in the last year. I am 59 and still able to lift my suitcase into the overhead bin, but on every flight I’ve been on someone has offered to help me lift it down when we are all waiting to leave the plane. There are a lot of good people out there !

  29. Another travel tip I just read…slides should never be worn on a plane because they could come off during an emergency exiting the plane. Also, you should not wear stiletto heels while flying since they could puncture the plastic slide in an emergency exit.

    Something to save for your next travel tips.

    Thank you, Susan!

  30. Thanks for all of your packing tips. I like your messages because they are always positive. Older women love to dress in lovely beautiful clothes appropriate for our age. And younger women see examples of what older beauty looks like . Thank you!

  31. Thanks so much for your posts on packing! I so appreciate you sharing helpful information and snippets of your life, and I’ve learned quite a bit from you these past couple of years. Thank you!

  32. I’m on l vacation right now. Persons over 75 years of age did not have to remove their shoes to get through security. I want to put in a word for Chico’s Zenergy garments, they’re wrinkle free, coordinating and lightweight—black long pants, crops, jacket, and vest have traveled many miles with me. Always take more of your necessary daily and emergency meds than you expect to need, if delays happen because of travel, health or accident the last thing you want to have to do is try to secure extra meds. Take along meds for cold, GI upset and diarrhea, bladder issues, headache, pain—no going to a drugstore if feeling unwell. Zip your crossbody purse inside your tote bag until through security, then wear it under your jacket. I do not check luggage generally. I make sure I can lift my roller bag and I only carry a tote with all personal items that slips over the handle. The airline was asking for volunteers to check their roller bags at the departure gate at no cost…just be sure you don’t have any vital item in it like car keys or meds.

  33. Thank for the information on the packing cubes. I have been debating about buying and using them. I’m sold!

  34. Dear sweet Susan,
    I have wrestled, twisted and just about turned wrong side out. How do you keep the scarf in place as in the night 3 example in the previous post?

    1. Hi Deborah. Fold a 51-inch square scarf into a triangle shape and wrap it around your back and shoulders. Place one of the ends between your bust and your hip, then put the other end across the front and over the opposite shoulder.

  35. Thank you, Susan, and all of the readers, for your very helpful travel tips. I haven’t travelled since late 2019, and I’m desperate to get travelling again. But, we’re holding off for a while yet.
    Susan, you mentioned above how you want your blog to be a peaceful site, and it is. I can’t begin to thank you enough for having an ad free blog. I follow 2 other blogs and I’m constantly blasted with flickering ads and even ads that jump into the text. I have unsubscribed from blogs, although very interesting, because of the bothersome ads.

    1. Thank you! I am amazed (and question the logic) that some sites belonging to department stores have the same bothersome ads on their pages that lead customers to other sites.

  36. Just wanted to chime in on Susan’s previous comment about Shapeeze bras. I have purchased several and find them comfortable both summer and winter. I will every once in a while put on a normal underwire bra and always regret it and change back to the Shapeeze!

    Thank you for all the packing tips and also the tips provided by your commenters. Very helpful!

  37. You always look so pulled together and polished. And one of the things I like best about your wardrobe is that it is so well thought out and AFFORDABLE !

  38. This “Old Navy”-Dress is gorgeous! You absolutely look like a woman in your fourties!

    Kind regards,

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.