By Aimee Markwardt
Packing is an art, and if you don’t believe it, you’ve never peeked inside the suitcase of a flight attendant or an avid business traveler. Just ask Louis Vuitton.
The famous designer has a section on his website called the Art of Packing, where he virtually guides viewers through the perfect packing process, including how to fold a dress and what objects go in the suitcase first.
Perfect packing is a beautiful puzzle. Whittling down your entire life to fit into few feet — and not turning it into a stressful ball of chaos and wrinkles — takes a little bit of math, a lot of creativity, strategic planning and smart products.
Here are some tips on how to pack your suitcase like a pro:
First, you need the right suitcase. If you’re already shelling out money for tickets, travel insurance, a hotel, a car and a virtual stack of new Kindle books to read on the plane, you might feel inclined to skimp on the luggage and make an old duffel do. Our advice: Don’t.
A solid suitcase will protect your belongings and hold you clothes in place, so you don’t end up behind the steam of an iron while you’re supposed to be relaxing. Or worse, with a busted shoe or a beautiful blouse covered in exploded shampoo slime.
Check out the lightweight “Impervious” luggage line from Sharper Image, $199.99. This luggage is durable, yet sleek and stylish. It’s easy to maneuver and has a built-in TSA combo lock to keep your belongings safe, yet airport approved. Plenty of lined pockets inside to help organize your goodies. Save money by using Sharper Image coupons, like $10 off your entire order, plus 8 percent cash back. That’s $26 off a $200 suitcase.
While packing, plan in outfits. Don’t just pick a random assortment of T-shirts, a mismatched skirt and a handful of shoes. Plan each outfit in advance and make sure you will wear everything you pack — and have everything you need. Keep your outfits centered around a few colors so you can mix the items up and reuse the accessories and jacket.
Our favorite combo: Classic black and white, with a few accent colors, like a chunky red necklace or a bold yellow blazer, like this double-breasted peplum sweater jacket at Nordstrom for $198. Note: Always choose material that doesn’t wrinkle. Save money by using Nordstrom coupons and order through Shopathome.com to get cash back.
Don’t put things directly into the suitcase right away. “Pile first, then pack,” writes Jess Cartner-Morley in an article for The Guardian. She recommends first making a pile of everything you think you want to take, then fine-tune it, and finally, pack in this order: shoes, laundry bags, books, chargers, evening bag (full of your jewelry), belt, swimwear and underwear in fabric bags, things that don’t need hanging up, and finally, everything that needs to hang. Leave those things on a hanger. Rubber-band the tops of the hangers and slip the stack in a garment bag. Place that on top.
Pick up a nice garment bag at Macy’s, like this tweed hanging suit bag for less than $20. Plus, for a limited time, Macy’s is offering an extra 25 percent off organization products, and save even more by using Macy’s coupons.
Feeling fancy? We’re lusting over this Bric’s Milano deluxe garment bag – a serious closet-on-the-go, for $695.
Be wary of how much your bag itself weighs.
Practice packing (virtually) online at Louis Vuitton’s The Art of Packing website.
Rolling clothes can save space. This works well for T-shirts, exercise clothes, pajamas and underwear.