well worn black sneakers...if these shoes could talk!

tips for packing light


my uniform...black Aritzia pants, white Brooks Brothers shirt, black sneakers & Longchamp backpackWhen preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes & all your money. Then take half the clothes & twice the money” ~ Susan Heller

ready to go...my two bagsI am the queen of carry on. Once upon a time BA lost my luggage flying London to Milan. I never saw many favorite things again, including a huge Hermes cashmere scarf. I swore I would never check. Well, real life… sometimes there is no choice. But I easily, and often  go a month without checking a bag.  I have some tips.

Luggage matters. I have a Briggs & Riley rollaboard that I love. It has technology that allows you to pack it, zip it and mush it, reducing the size by about 25%.  It’s also pretty light empty. Airlines occasionally weigh carry-on. Even if they don’t, I have to be able to lift it into the overhead by myself, others rarely help. It’s always easy to roll, every direction. John has a Tumi that he likes; I find them too heavy and too expensive. Go to a big department store and try a bunch.

My two must brings are from Longchamp. The first is a Pliage backpack, the second a Pliage expandable. Both black. I fill the backpack with things I will need on the plane…headphones, water bottle, mini moisturizer, snack, Kleenex, my glasses, iPad, charging cord, lip gloss, eyeshade, kindle…Then I stick it inside the larger bag.

10 years ago, a variation of the uniformI pull it out when I get to my seat putting everything else in the overhead. No one cares how many bags you take off the plane or how big they are. So I just carry 3 bags off. If I’ve collected things along the way, I’ll wear layers of bulky clothes onto the plane, unzip my expandable bag and put the layers in it.

Wear Black. Or navy… they don’t show dirt or wrinkles as much and always look elegant. Color can come from accessories, scarves and jewelry. I have a black Aritzia Blazer I always travel with… because it has big pockets that fit my phone and passport. The fabric is SBD (satin backed crepe), so it doesn’t wrinkle. It layers well; looks professional when I need that yet always fashionable. They have pants made from the same fabric. They have an elastic waist, are as comfortable as pajamas yet look fab. These two items are where I start every time. They are my uniform. Find yours.

White Shirts: Brooks Brothers no iron shirts are my secret weapon…they look fresh through an entire trip…even when dirty…at least from a distance. And always on Instagram. I also bring a couple white t-shirts. Super versatile, good for layering, exercise or dressing up with pearls. I never bring many. If needed you can buy them anywhere in the world.

clothes for a 6 month trip thru the middle eastToss as you go: I pack old underwear and t-shirts…throwing them out as I go. Neither of these things take up too much space but it feels good and gives you an excuse to pick up a treat.

A Big Scarf (and a smaller one): A scarf has so many uses…blanket, curtain, skirt, sarong…it can even keep your neck warm. And of course it adds a huge splash of color.

Accessories: I usually stick to costume jewelry, I hate worrying about the good stuff. I believe in buy experiences not things except when it comes to earrings and bracelets which I pick up in markets…cheap and cheerful! I bring an envelope purse for evenings, doesn’t take up much room; dresses things up. A statement necklace does too.

Liquids: You really don’t need much…I bring sunscreen, night cream, serum., contact solution in small refillable containers. I use hotel shampoos, conditioners and lotions. When I run out, I buy more along the way. Great chance to try something new.

a pair of Tanya Heath heelsShoes: They are the biggest challenge for packing light. Versatility is key. Always wear your heaviest pair on the plane, stuff the ones you pack with socks and knickers. Stick them in bags or put shower caps over the soles.

I walk a ton, so I bring sneakers…black ones. In a pinch I can wear them to a posh restaurant. I also bring one more pair either a pump, sandal or boot depending on the season. Among my favorites are shoes made by Tanya Heath… they have changeable heels that go from one to 3 inches, kitten to stiletto to block.

I’m still searching for the perfect walking shoe that I can wear all day and look glamourous.

Never bring things you don’t wear at home. And don’t bring just in case clothes…if you get invited to a ball while on the road, you can always go shopping!

ready to goFinally, people should never notice what you are wearing, just how you look… inspiring advice I was once given. 

All the specific products I’ve mentioned are things I genuinely love. Below are links to their websites. I have no relationships with the companies and do not get any kickbacks from them.







  1. Great tips that are well appreciated. Curious on your preferred Longchamp tote sizing – large shoulder bag or the tote size large?

  2. Great tips Julie! I am famous for overpacking and literally wearing the same outfit for an entire trip, I will use these tips for next time.

  3. Great packing tips! I almost always prefer to carry on my bags. I love my Swiss Gear roller carry on bag. Smooth wheels are really important. It can expand, if needed, but, then it’s better to check as it can be a tight squeeze in the overhead.
    My favorite packing “hack” is to use packing cubes!! I bought Bagail, an inexpensive 6 piece set on Amazon for $20. Makes packing very organized. Love them so much, I’ve given many for gifts.
    And, my new favorite find is the Zestt organic cotton travel scarf! Large cozy scarf. It was great to have draped over my legs on the train back from NYC, recently, as I was right next to the door.

  4. Thanks Julie! I’ve been looking for a replacement white shirt. I’ll look at the Brooks Bros!

  5. One more thing to add to your packing list Julie and it takes up no room at all…
    Patience and a sense of humour!

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