I am a pack-aholic.

When it comes to packing for trips, I have trouble. I never want to be missing something. In college, my lacrosse team called me "mom" because I always had extra everything in my bag. Once my extra pair of cleats came in handy, thank you very much! But for vacations longer than a weekend, I am even worse. Just ask my father-in-law. He long ago abandoned being the gentleman hoisting my bags when he realized he would inevitably throw his back out. The frequent retort, how does such a little girl carry so much? (and why does she even need so much stuff?!)

My problem began the first time I took an unknown trip, traveling with Mark and his family just a few short months after we began dating. Before that, most trips were with my own family, and familiar, so I knew what to expect and therefore what to pack. In preparation for going to Boca Grande (an island I love, recently featured here) I asked Mark what we would be doing. He began to rattle off the list...we will go to the pool, the beach, snorkle, probably play tennis most mornings, go on a run around the island, play golf once or twice, some nights we will go out to dinner and the restaurants are nice, some times we dress up, sometimes we don't, yada, yada, yada...you get my point! Panic set in. I had no idea what to pack for this trip, not to mention the added pressure of a week with my boy friend's parents.

Well, nine years later, I am happy to report that my packing for this trip has gotten down to a science, along with weekend trips that I can now fit into a small tote. Having a baby has actually improved the effeciency of my packing. There are now more important things to carry than an extra oversized vera bradley, namely, my child.

All of that said, when the tickets were purchased for this San Francisco trip, mild panic set in. So last night, I executed the greatest packing experiment ever, ten steps for packing for a ten day trip.

a few too many. these would definitely put my suitcase over the 50lb limit!

I pulled everything I love that was seasonally appropriate out of my closet, I listed my activities, and tried each piece on one-by one until I found interchangable outfits, with jewelry and accessories to match. It sounds painful. But the end result was a compact stack of clothes that would work for coastal drives, two days of wine tasting in sonoma, hiking and exploring point reyes and muir woods, a baseball game (go phillies!) and three days pounding city sidewalks.

Overall, my experiment was a grand success. Here are my tips if you too experience packing panic.

1. Lay everthing out on the ground by type, dresses, pants, tops, outter layers, ignoring the basics like pajamas, underware, and base layer t-shirts. These items are easier to add in once you have a better idea of you main elements.

2. Begin with your favorite item in the group, something you know you will bring. For me, this was the blue dress featured above. Put on your base layer like a dress or a pair of jeans and play around until you find something that works. Then make one or two more outfits out of the same piece. Setting all of the items for these outfits aside.

3. Assess what you have put aside with your favorite item. For me it was two cardigains, navy and coral, three necklaces (one of the outfits is not featured here), navy blazer, a pair of skinnies to wear under the dress, saltwater sandals and puma zandy walking shoes. Don't forget the shoes. This process helped me eliminate two pairs I thought I would definitely bring because they simply didn't end up working as well with my outfits.

4. Next, pull a second base piece that also works with these accessories, for me the navy and red polka dot dress. I added my red toms, a belt, and a gold pendant necklace to the mix.

5. Now it is time to switch it up. Go a differnt direction. I pulled out the jeans I already set aside and tried on a few differnt tops until I settled on my pink gingham with a black vest. The vest is sporty, and not what I would typically wear with jeans and a button down, This outfit surprised me, but it works, especially because the vest was already on the packing list for hiking.

6. Keep going until you round out your possible outfits and think you are finished.

7. Purge! What doesn't work more than once isn't worth bringing.

8. Ask the tough questions. Do I have the right shoes?

9. Finish off with the basics that were ignored in step one. Now that you know what you are brining, you can properly add in only the undergarments, camis, and t-shirts that you need. You won't bog down your suitcase with the wrong items.

10. Pick which outfits you think you will wear your first two days and pack these in either your carry on or on top of your suitcase. This will help you stay organized on the road.

The complete list:

2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of chinos
2 dresses
3 button down shirts
2 cardigains
1 vest
1 blazer
1 fleece
1 rain coat
5 necklaces
3 belts
4 pairs of shoes

(not shown)
2 pairs of black exercise pants
1 pair of leggings
4 long sleeved t-shirts
3 short sleeve t-shirts
pajama pants
1 dressy white tank top
3 camis
1 pair of running shoes
4 pairs of socks
toiletries (the bare minimum)
and my favorite phillies hat

Now lets just hope that when I get to San Francisco, the fallback of jeans and a t-shirt are largely avoided. I am only bringing two pairs of jeans for ten days, so I will have to wear something else right?

What are your tips for packing?

p.s. I still think I might be packing too much. I will give you a full report when I get back.

p.p.s. my father-in-law is still a perfect gentleman, and even carries my bags, wouldn't want you to get the wrong impression!


  1. 1. SOOOOO jeal of your trip!!!!

    2. still think you should have brought all your jewlery :) I've def been over the weight limit bc of that before...

    3. in all seriousness... great tips for packing!

  2. Hope you guys have an awesome trip! can't wait to see pics.

  3. Umm can you come pack for me? I always over pack. Always! Maybe you just have a better wardrobe haha!!

  4. this is great! i totally agree with your comment to try things on together.

    i have always been a good packer except for shoes. i never over pack with clothes so my dad and now husband always wonder why my bag is so heavy - i pack a different shoe for every outfit and some extras because you just never know.

    the hardest "trip" i ever packed for was leaving for france for an entire semester. trying to fit months of clothes into two bags...

    i *may* be tagging onto the Hubs business trip Napa and I have never been to Cali so I may need your advice on what to pack.


  5. You have some gorgeous necklaces (especially the turquoise ones), I'm not sure how you managed to narrow them down!Rx




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