Caroline Says…Don’t Be a Pack Rat

Caroline Says_Don't Be a Packrat_Feature

How many times have you packed and repacked and packed again, only to find yourself in a foreign city with five pairs of the wrong shoes or an odd array of mismatched separates that never make it out of your suitcase? I’ve been there too, but I’ve learned that it is possible to be an efficient packer. It takes both practice and the ruthlessness of a military commander; you must show no mercy for the unessential items.  You must commit to what you’re going to wear at your destination.  You must cut your vacation dream wardrobe by half.

If that simple declarative sentence hasn’t scared you off, then welcome to packing boot camp a la Caroline.

After years of taking too much stuff, I’ve finally learned to streamline my clothes into a carry-on bag  – yes, you heard correctly:  one small soft-shell suitcase– and a tote, no matter where I’m going. (I shared this information recently with a group of disbelieving women who insisted on marching en masse, wine glasses in hand, to my hotel room at midnight to see for themselves.)


I’ll tell you what I told them.  The secret is to take a few solid-color basics that can be re-worn (jeans, white pants in summer, a black pair always, a dress that can be dressed up or down) along with complimentary tops in various weights to layer (tees, blouses, a sweater, and a wrap). Roll rather than fold to save precious suitcase space and to limit wrinkles.  I also take a bathing suit, goggles, and lightweight travel sneakers for exercising, no matter the locale.


Sneakers get a bad rap and are often blamed for contributing to that unflattering stereotype of the typical American tourist abroad when, in fact, a lot of Europeans and South Americans wear sneakers, too.  (What they don’t wear are baseball caps, oversized t-shirts, or an extra 30 pounds around their middle.)  So, along with running shoes, I’ll bring a pair of rubber-soled Yosi Samra ballet flats or boots for daytime touring and maybe a block-heeled pump or sandal for evening wear.  That’s it.  Keep your best shoes at home for nights out on the town with your friends, who will appreciate them more anyway.

Toiletries and Makeup

Now that we’ve covered feet, let’s turn our attention to the face.  Make-up is stashed in a leather zip pouch that doubles as a purse, and 3-ounce toiletries are housed in an unglamorous TSA-approved plastic baggie.

Tote Bag & Accessories

I carry my toiletries and makeup along with a pair of yoga pants (great for long-haul flights), laptop, phone, and essential documents in my Tory Burch tote, which can be a large purse if needed.  As for bling, I wear my go-to gold hoop earrings and may throw in a statement necklace or killer cuff for dinners out.

While I may not make a Vogue fashion statement while traveling, I am always comfortable and able to handle my luggage, which, by the way, is never sent to Peoria by mistake as it’s rarely out of my sight.  If you need help streamlining your travel wardrobe with a few quality basics, my friends at ROAN in Richmond are happy to help.  Call Hank.  He’s more kindly uncle than drill sergeant, but he’ll get you and your luggage in line.  Yes, Sir!

Caroline Travels the World (with a carry on)…And So Can You.

Caroline Says_Don't Be a Packrat

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