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How I Pack: 2016

Swanky One Week Travel

Introduction

This was the sheet I used for my Paris trip: October 11th-16th. This is good for one week of business travel or several nights of vacation. This was an early-winter vacation so this works for that time of year (or year-round in San Francisco).

I’ve tried to generalize my particular flow so that this could work for a woman as well. I’ve tried to add a few extra generic things that might / not apply to you.

Preliminaries

The goal is to get you to fit all your belongings in a 1-case overhead-compliant suitcase.

"B&R Baseline"

I use a Briggs & Riley Baseline Expandable Upright Suitcase. For an international trip I check my luggage which means that items that are prohibited in-cabin are listed here but denoted with a (TSA) flag. I’ve used this same system for week-long trips as well. In this case the TSA flagged items cannot be carried on-board.

Laundry

You will be required to do laundry one day. The goal is that easily washed or cheaply washed things are packed lighter.

Your charcoal slacks are used on the plane where grungy seats or airport sweating will be least visible. Light slacks are kept for the location where you’ll be under more controlled circumstances.

Athletics

For a business traveler I might recommend that your second pair of shoes be running shoes and that you pack 2 running shorts, 2 pair of athletic socks, and 2 running tops. Running gear rolls (see below) well and a rolled pair of shorts can go in one shoe while a rolled set of technical shirts can fit in the other. Thus your net change from this specification is minimal.

Also running on foot is a great way to shake time-change issues and see the city you happen to be in. If you wake up at 6am in your new location you could either use that time to fruitlessly fall back asleep, waste time on social media, or go see the city that you might not be able to enjoy.

The Plan

| Day: Activity | Underwear | Socks | Undershirt | Dress Shirt | Slacks | Winter Coat        |
=============================================================================================|
| Day 1: Flight |     X     |   X   |     X      |      P      |   Charcoal    |    (Wear)   |
| Day 2: Day 1  |     X     |   X   |     X      |      D      |   Light       |             |
| Day 3: Day 2  |     X     |   X   |     X      |      Q      |   Charcoal    |             |
| Day 4: Day 3  |     0     |   0   |     0      |      P      |   Light       |             |
| Day 5: Day 4  |     0     |   0   |     0      |      D      |   Light       |             |
| Day 6: Day 5  |     0     |   0   |     0      |      Q      |   Light       |             |
| Day 7: Flight |     0     |   0   |     0      |      D      |   Charcoal    |             |


In Suitcase
============
  * Half-zip sweater
  * Sport Coat (Fold using [Trunk Club Method][])
  * Jeans: Useful in case of slacks needing dry cleaning, hitting a bar, etc.
  * Alternate shoes (usually brown; wear black on the plane)
  * Shaving Kit
  * ===========
    * 1 razor blade (TSA): I use a safety razor
    * Razor
    * Razor lubricant
    * Hair Gel
    * Toothbrush
    * Toothpaste
    * Floss
    * Birth Control / Fem. Hygiene
    * 2 units: Travel Tide Packets
Day Pack / Laptop Bag
=====================
  * Vitals
    * Tickets and Vouchers
    * Passport
    * Medication (Inhaler? Pain relief? Chronic flare-up meds?)
  * Sunglasses
  * Camera

Packing Methodology

Here are two secret weapons to packing tightly and efficiently:

  • Hair rubber bands
  • White tissue paper

Roll Every Loose Item of Clothing

So roll your undershirts, your underwear, socks (if you don’t do the sock ball nesting thing normally) and then use the hair bands to hold the roll. Trunk Club even uses a long strip of fabric to tie loosely tie and bundle the sport coat. I don’t typically do this, but you might consider it. Set these to the side with your folded sport coat.

Fill your extra shoes with socks or rolles shirts. Don’t pack air, pack stuff.

Packing

First, pack your dress shirts in the “suiter” of the B&R suitcase. Unclip the cross-chest belt. One at a time put a shirt on the “hangar.” Then feed the shirt through the foam holders. Crease the shirt about 4" below the waist (no one will see a crease there. Pull the shirt in at the sides to make it fit in the suiter (no one will see a crease there). Fold the long sleeves at the shoulder across the chest. Fold each sleeve’s wrist section backwards at the wrist cuff. Creases here are less visible. After all your shirts are folded, zip up the suiter, you’re done with that piece.

Here’s B&R’s video demonstrating a basic version of the technique.

For the remainder I was inspired by this video:

It’s a bit long and the lighting is poor, but this laid out some of the key points I use below.

Lay pants such that the waist and hips are in the bag but that the length of the leg hangs out. After completing the pants use a sheet of tissue paper. Lay your pants / slacks / trousers such that the legs are pivoted by 90 degrees from each other. That is if pants are pointed WEST on the first pair, have them point EAST on the next pair. This stops the extra fabric at the hips from mounting up inside the case and thus creating a “wedge” where that fabric is gathering. We want to try to keep a flat surface inside the case.

We use tissue paper between pants so as to ensure their buttons, etc don’t snag on our sweater which will be on top of them. It also helps minimize mess if (Heaven forbid!) something should leak. Further if we’re packing other shoes / athletic shoes we want to make sure whatever’s on the bottom can’t touch our clothing.

Our pants create the outer “wrapping.” We now need to fill the inner core. Here’s where all our other belongings go. Our pant legs (now dangling oddly outside of our case) will be folded backward over the the inner core once it’s done.

I wrap my sport coat in a tissue paper sheet as well as my second pair of shoes. I laid my coat, my shaving kit, my extra sweater in the middle. I also put odds and ends such as electrical cables, birthday presents, etc in this section. I took my “rolls” on end and tried to stuff them around the corners of the case. We will be folding the pantlegs back over our core momentarily, so try not to let your rolls block this folding effort.

After I finished this “core” I coverd it with a sheet of tissue paper that I then bunched it tight over the contents.

I then folded the legs of the hanging-out traousers back over. I put a top layer of tissue on the legs. I then used the B&R’s strap kit to hold the bundle in place. I put my spare tissue paper on top (I used them to pack for the return trip). Zip it all up and you’re done! This kit is my go-to default now.

Conclusion

I’ve iterated on variations of this for 3-day and 5-day trips to Chicago, a solid week in San Francisco, and a 5-day trip to Paris. This is how I’m traveling these days. Hope it helps!

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