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Easy Tips for Packing for Vacation from Martha

Entry #458, March 25, 2011

In Jacksonville, Florida, today starts Spring Break – officially. So for the next 10 days, it’s time for me to get closer to my kids and hubby on a vacation to Disney World. While I always look forward to the trip once we are there, I HATE packing! In fact, I literally waited until yesterday to pack, not because I wanted to, but because the thought process behind packing is brain torture to me!


Why does packing for travel have to be such a chore?

I found this wonderful article from Martha Stewart for good advice on how to pack. While I’m not a jet setter worldwide yet, my time is about to come! So I’m telling myself to embrace the thought, and get some packing advice from someone who travels like you breathe in air!


Packing tips from Martha Stewart

I have been traveling an inordinate amount in the past few months. My newest book, “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School” (Clarkson Potter), was published in October, and I embarked on a multicity book tour that lasted for weeks. I also made several business trips — to California, Maine, Ireland, Poland, and even Iceland.

Because I travel so much, and to so many diverse locations in many different kinds of planes and other vehicles, I have devised my own style of packing that works well and is effective. Little is left to chance, nothing gets lost or damaged, and my clothes and other items needed for the trip are protected and can usually be worn directly from the suitcase or hanging bag. I am a good packer and a successful traveler, but I hate to pack, and I tend to leave it to the last minute, even though I know the task would be better done in advance.


I wish I looked this happy when packing Martha! :)

The luggage I take is an important consideration:

I use duffel-type bags for casual trips when I need lots of room for hiking or riding boots and bulky outdoor clothing. Because these bags are clumsy to carry, I have found some that have wheels, saving my back, arms, and shoulders.

For two- or three-day trips:

I find I can usually get away with a carry-on duffel/handbag, a smaller messenger bag, and a small “wheelie” that fits into a plane’s overhead compartment. I also have several good zippered garment bags that can be carried onto a plane. If I must check luggage because I need many changes of clothing, I use a rigid aluminum suitcase (I have three sizes).

Really good luggage should never be checked unless the bags can be shrink-wrapped or covered with a canvas or waterproof covering. So many bags are damaged on the automated conveyor belts: Handles are ripped off, gashes are made in canvas bags, and locks are often snapped off. Even the aluminum suitcases are occasionally dented and scuffed, though I find them remarkably sturdy.

I carry lots of electronics and cameras with me:

Their attendant chargers and batteries are cumbersome and heavy. I pack each camera, each charger, and the extra batteries in resealable plastic bags. My cell phone and BlackBerry are always with me, as is my Kindle, and each uses a different charger that requires its own small bag.

pool vacation

Enjoy your travels and pack your bags with confidence

My makeup and toiletries are packed in separate zippered pouches:

which are then inserted into large resealable plastic bags. If I am bringing a laptop, that, too, is packed in my hand-carried duffel, which can be transported easily atop my wheelie or overnight bag.

I always watch my luggage like a hawk — I do not let hotel bellmen whisk it away for later delivery to my room. I stay with it and insist on accompanying it to my room. In taxis and limos, I watch how it is stored so that nothing is ever crushed or damaged. Hanging bags are always hung or laid flat on top of everything else.

What’s most effective about my method of packing is that it lets me pack outfits together on one hanger. Each outfit is stored and folded in a dry-cleaner-type plastic bag so that once I reach my destination, I can simply hang up my clothes and wear them without having to press them. Packing by outfit enables me to figure out, while packing, exactly which undergarments, stockings, shoes, scarves, and purses I will need. All my shoes are packed in flannel shoe bags, and I use the same type of bag for belts and evening clutches. If I am traveling with a hat or two, I use a lightweight shopping bag, so the hats won’t be crushed.

I have also devised a list of essential “do not forget” items.

I refer to this list so that I don’t neglect to pack vitamins, a favorite tea, a couple of pieces of ribbon or waxed twine (to tie zippers closed), extra resealable plastic bags, jewelry, sunglasses, contact lenses and cleaning solutions, a hairbrush, checks, cash, and my passport.

This packing system works well and is easy to incorporate into your next trip. I hope that you will find it as useful as I do.

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