Whether your fall travel plans include business meetings, leaf peeping in New England or a seasonal trip to visit family, a few easy packing tips will get your trip started off on the right foot:
1. Write it down. Start the packing process by making a list of scheduled meetings, lunch and learn seminars, cocktail receptions and any other activities on your agenda. Include the day of the week, the time of the meeting or event, and the dress attire for each function. You can now begin to formulate a plan.
2. Begin with your must-haves. Set out your non-negotiable, impossible-to-leave-behind travel items. Include favorite things you simply can't live without (for me it would be my hot rollers). Everything else has to work around the left over space in your suitcase.
3. Reuse and recycle. Choose wardrobe basics that you can mix and match, including separates that will work for at least two or three different outfits. Stick to basic colors such as gray, navy, black or camel and add complimentary colors and pieces around your key clothing items. A pair of pants, pencil skirt, sweater set, and silk blouse can be changed up with different jackets, colored belts, tees, and camisoles. Pack a pair of flats for walking, flip flops to wear in your hotel room, two pairs of heels (black and neutral) for business and evening events, and a pair of boots for sightseeing and cold weather.
4. Accessorize. Accessories are a great way to keep your look fresh. Scarves travel well and compliment almost any outfit, from business to casual. It will also keep you warm on a chilly plane ride or sitting in a cold restaurant. A standout necklace, signature bracelet, interesting earrings or a great bag can change a confident business outfit into a fun evening look. Accessories travel light and make a big impact.
5. Wrap it up. Layer your clothes between wrapping tissue, dry cleaning plastic or bubble wrap to keep your travel wardrobe wrinkle free. I personally have terrible luck rolling my clothing up into a tight ball or layering my skirts and dresses between tissue or plastic, regardless of how careful I am at following professional instructions. I prefer bubble wrap; it protects my clothing and acts as padding between my multiple hair appliances, high heel shoes, and toiletry items. Regardless of how hard I try, I still have to utilize the iron in my hotel room!
6. Duplicate your makeup bag. Designate a specific makeup bag for travel, complete with identical products you use on a daily basis. When possible, travel size products are most convenient, but if none are available, pack the full size. It will keep you from making an emergency trip to the department store to replace smaller substitutes.
7. Don't forget clear plastic bags. Not only are these required by TSA for any liquids or gels (remember, no more than three-ounce containers in your carry-on bag), they will make it easy for you to find what you need quickly and protect against spills and leaks. Pack several bags with different items (I use one bag for toiletries such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss, one bag for my creams and lotions, and another for hairbrushes, combs, and hot roller clips). You can fit the individual bags in the corners and sides of your suitcase.
8. Bring plenty of layers. Fall weather can be unpredictable. A few pieces of clothing that you can easily layer will enable you to adapt to any temperature weather condition, both inside the building and outdoors. A good water-resistant outer layer is ideal for rain, and almost any climate. Wear it on the plane to save space in your suitcase. Do the same with your boots or heavier winter shoes.
9. Take advantage of the soft cloth shoe bags. Good quality shoes usually come with material bags enclosed in the shoe box. Don't throw them out! They are perfect for storing jewelry, sunglasses, and small evening bags. They also are great to protect your clothing from the heels of your shoes. Plastic grocery bags are a suitable alternative. The idea is to keep your shoes separated from your clothing while keeping restroom, airport, and sidewalk germs at bay. When you return home, toss them in the wash and have them ready for your next trip.
10. Keep your valuables close. Pack your jewelry, daily medication, and technology chargers in your carry-on bag. If you are bringing a fancy evening bag, stash the small bag in your carry on, and wear your expensive designer bag on the plane. It's too risky to pack either in your suitcase. Assume nothing expensive is safe to pack. I have learned the hard way on several occasions and it's worth the extra effort to pack smart. Refer to my Travel Etiquette Checklist for more packing tips.