Here at BookTrib we know that sometimes you just don’t have answers to your problems. That’s why we’re here to pass along some insight and try to solve the question at hand with a few quick hacks and helpful advice. Each week, we’re tackling a new problem and answering your burning questions. For our first advice column, we’re discussing all-things packing. Get at us on our Facebook page if you’ve got a dilemma you just can’t get to the bottom of.



Clueless’s Cher always had too many packing options


Q. Hi BookTrib! I’m having full-on meltdown. I’m days away from going on my dream Caribbean vacation for two weeks (Can you say excited?!) but I’m at a complete loss for what to pack and how to make it all fit. Do you have any secret – or not so secret – tips for packing when you have way too much stuff?

Poor Packer

A. Dear Poor Packer,

I feel your pain on this one because you just never know what you’re going to need. Dinner out? Shopping day? Clutch or purse? Now my head is spinning. While a professional packer would indeed come in handy in situations like these, there are some tried-and-true ways to tackle your packing quandary and board your flight without an overweight baggage fee.

First, step away from the pile of bikinis on your bed (we’ll get to those later) and start your own checklist. This will keep you the most organized, especially when you come across yet another maxi dress that you just can’t leave behind. (I promise, you can.) Categorize your check list by days, then type of outfits: “morning: bikini; afternoon: day outfit; night: dressy outfit” and so on for each day. While I go the personal checklist route, there’s always printable packing lists, that are also super-helpful.



There’s really only one thing you need to remember: quantity! If you can eliminate unnecessary multiples then you’re well on your way to fitting everything into your suitcase. Once you’ve chosen all of the items you WANT to bring, organize them into piles, i.e.: sleepwear, swim, dresses, etc.  This will help you see how much stuff you actually plan to pack. Now, you’re going to decide what from each pile you can live without for a week – I trust that you can do this! You don’t need that fourth pair of sandals, and you definitely don’t need seven bathing suits. In fact, only bring one bikini bottom and three tops to mix and match. As you weed out, remember that anything you don’t bring with you, you can ultimately live without. Get creative!

The final piece to this always difficult puzzle is the actual act of packing. Ugh! No one ever wants to do it and typically I need a break after the pain of parting with a number of my favorite accessories. But the faster you get it done, the better off you’ll be. There’s a number of ways you can go about this. For instance, some people swear by rolling their clothes. This option isn’t my personal go-to, but if you’re interested, you can watch Leslie Willmott’s eHow packing video below.



Another way is to file your clothes sideways in the suitcase. Min Lee has mastered this and details it in her post for XO Jane. My favorite packing style, though, is laying my clothes as flat as possible and then stacking. You get the most room this way and wherever there are open pockets of space, you can pack your bulkier items, like shoes and toiletries, or breakable pieces.



If you’re a file-packer, you’ll want the final product to look like this


FYI: There’s no need to be “prepared for anything” anymore thanks to an app called PackPoint. Before you start your checklist, download this app and see what the weather will be like at your destination, so you know exactly what to bring with you. And finally, if all of this still doesn’t get you on the right path, I suggest taking a peek at the blog, Her Packing List. It’s chock-full of exciting posts dedicated to all-things packing light.

There you have it! I hope this has at least calmed your nerves before you plan to pack. Final tip: grab a glass of wine, turn on some tunes and pack away. Oh, and have a great vacation. I’m a little jealous!

Recommended Reading:


Packing Light: The Normal Person’s Guide to Carry-On-Only Travel by Fred Perrotta (Tortuga Backpacks LLC, April 2015)

How much do you hate waiting in line to have your bag weighed? Even worse, it’s overweight and you have to 1) pay MORE money to the airline or 2) step to the side and embarrassingly unpack some of the heavier items. If this is a typical trip to the airport for you, then Fred Perrotta has some need-to-know information in Packing Light: The Normal Persons’ Guide to Carry-On-Only Travel. Here Fred’s passing along all of his tips that he’s learned over the years for packing as little as possible. Skip the lines, skip the extra money and only pack the essentials. Plus, you’ll know where your bag is at all times.