One of the most common questions I get in the days before a trip is if I’m all packed and ready to go.  Unless they call me when I’m actually in the car on the way to the airport is always the same – are you kidding? If the car service doesn’t pick me up until 5:30am, and I have a dinner that night with some friends, I always figure I can pack later, and I’m usually right.

How do I do that, you ask?   It only takes me about 30 minutes to pack for a two week trip – and stay within the airline weight limit.  Honest – it really does!

I have a travel handbag that has a full zipper for security, zip pockets, and is large enough to fit my two quart-sized ziplocs filled with my meds and other liquid essentials.   I have the small bottles of my favorite lotions-and-potions always packed in my train-case, ready to go when a trip happens.  Sample sizes of makeup and perfume that you get as ‘free gifts’ make great travel essentials to tuck away in your travel makeup case and this way they never go to waste.  Duplicate hair and makeup brushes are easy – when you buy one, you buy two, and the other is kept in your suitcase.  Be sure to keep a few quart-size ziploc bags in your suitcase in case the ones you originally packed rip or get lost.  You don’t want to be without your necessities on the next leg of your flight, or on the flight home.

A good medicine kit is required.   Keep one up to date with all the medications you think you’ll need, given the country  the time of year and the activities you’ll be doing.  For ideas on what to pack in your medicine kit, see  medicine kits.

I never buy an appliance that is not dual-voltage. Hair-dryers are spotty overseas, and with buffalo hair like mine, a good dryer is essential.   I have a light travel dryer that weighs only ounces and doesn’t leave my suitcase.  Straightening iron and curling iron that are dual voltage and extra-light or compact are also necessities.    I use all those every day, so throwing them in takes less than 1 minute.

Plugging in all these appliances may not be as easy as you might think in another country.  Figuring out which adapter to bring without internet research is not always possible.  Since I usually am packing last minute,  I bought a kit years ago that has an adapter for just about every country, and I keep it in a zipped pouch that’s always in my suitcase.  This way I’m not fumbling around hoping that I brought the correct adapter.

Computer? It has it’s own roly-briefcase that’s big enough to handle work papers, some books, dvd’s, and a spare set of under-necessities just in case my suitcase goes missing for a couple of days.   It can also fit under the airplane seat in front of me if the overheads are full or act as a footrest in the airport during delays. It’s a twofer, and worth every penny of what it cost.

The part that takes the most time is selecting the outfits you want to take, and since my wardrobe is pretty much all travel-easy and mix-and-match (thanks to LauraBeth, my genius stylist!), that takes no more than 20 minutes max, and usually much less.  If you’re traveling for business, choose a suit that you can switch out a blouse or cami to make it appropriate for a business dinner.  This will reduce the number of outfits you bring, and the overall weight of your bag.  Be sure to pack enough underclothing for the trip, with an extra in your carry-on.

If dry cleaning at hotels is not something you want to do, then make sure you pack clothes that can be washed out in the sink or bathtub and hung up to dry.   I always carry a small travel bottle filled with baby shampoo in my quart sized ziploc in my handbag  – baby shampoo works better than the commercial lingerie washes, and is much cheaper.  It also doubles as body-wash or shampoo if you run out of your own brand.

Never take good jewelry with you on a trip.   Costume jewelry looks just as good and if it gets lost or stolen by crooked hotel staff,  you’re not out a lot of money.   Me?  I usually forget earrings, and end up having to wear the ones I had on the plane the whole trip, so this is my latest addition.  Pack earrings that will go with more than one outfit – I keep two pairs of fun and inexpensive silvertone and goldtone earrings (one dangle pair and one post in each color)  in a silk zipper-bag stashed in my carry-on.   I’ve been very glad I did that on a number of occasions.

Good travel shoes are essential for any trip – either for business or pleasure.  Invest in a good pair of brown and black travel pumps and walking shoes.  The cushier they are the better, and don’t forget to wear them a few times to make sure they’re not going to give you blisters.   One brown and one black should go with every outfit and that way you don’t pack 6 pairs of shoes and go over your weight limit.

To save time and prevent me from grabbing the wrong shoes at 2am, I keep the boxes of my travel pumps marked with  color and style in bright felt pen for easy identification.   Keep the shoe bags that come with new shoes, and slip a pair into each when you’re ready to pack.  This keeps them off the clothes, and everything much cleaner.  Throw them in, and you’re done.

So now you know how to pack for a two week trip in one hour or less.   Me?  I’ll pack later. Too much to do right now! Ciao!

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