5 Packing Essentials

Five days from now, I’ll be heading back to Europe for a three week work-cation. On the itinerary are stops in Switzerland, Italy and Spain. I’m hyped! Work travel is one of the major perks of my job but it can also be overwhelming. I’ve found that packing smart and light are key to reducing travel stress.

Here are my 5 tips for smart packing:


I got my Calpak hard suitcase about 5 years ago, before I knew anything about the brand. Since then, it’s become quite trendy with insta stars and legit celebs showing off their paks as they cruise through airports around the globe. Unlike most things in life, this case actually lives up to the hype. I originally purchased it because it was bright yellow.

Pro Tip: If you’re shopping for luggage, skip black, unless you like struggling to find your stuff on the baggage carousel. My bright yellow suitcase has saved me both time and frustration.

Personally I love hard-case luggage. It can take a beating! Seriously, my suitcase must be indestructible. I don’t have to worry about something leaking from someone else’s bag and damaging my belongings and cleaning it is a breeze.


I know it’s tempting but don’t overpack! Trust me you don’t need it. If you’re going to be on the road for more than 7-10 days, chances are you can find a way to do laundry. If you’re taking a weekender trip, really think about how you’ll be spending your time. If you’re heading to the beach and plan on spending most of your time relaxing in your swimsuit, do you really need 3 outfits for each day?! Probably not.

Do yourself a favor by creating a flexible itinerary for yourself BEFORE you start packing. If you’re going out to dinner multiple nights, don’t pack a pair of shoes for every outfit. Shoes are bulky and a pain to squeeze in an already crowded suitcase. My rule of thumb is no more than one pair for each day for short trips or 4/5 max for extended travel.

Coordinate your outfits so they are complimentary colors. That will allow you to recycle both shoes and Accessories.


Try on complete outfits prior to packing and make sure you’re comfortable and confident in them. When I say complete I mean, shoes, supportive undergarments and accessories. Once you’ve settled on a look, pack it right away or take a picture so that you’ll know exactly what you need once it’s time to pack.

We’ve all made the mistake of packing that dress, you know, the one that never gets worn at home but you assume you’ll wear it on vacation because it’s a vacation after all. The same dress that never leaves your suitcase and is once again passed over for a tried and true fit. Get rid of that dress!


Mastering your routine is essential for efficient packing. While you do your morning/evening beauty regimen, take note of your must have products.

If you are going away for a long weekend, there is no need to pack your weekly face mask. Do it when you get back or before you go so you’ll look refreshed once you get to your destination. If you typically rotate masks or moisturizers every few days, streamline things while you are away.

Stop by your favorite beauty counter and pick up sample sizes of your must have full sized products. They are usually free and you’ll thank me when you’re breezing through TSA. Are you a natural hair girl who needs a mountain of serums, gels and moisturizers to tame your mane? Plan ahead! Either look up where you can buy these items close to your accommodations or utilize travel containers. If you opt for travel containers, don’t forget to label the products!! I like to use a label maker for this or a color coded system. I found that sharpie usually rubs off. Learn from my mistakes sis!


Before Marie Kondo taught the world the art of tidying up, I was already rolling my clothing. It is the best way to fit more in a small space. Another perk is that you can see the designs/pattern without having to unroll. I smooth out each item and give them a tight roll. The more effort I put into the smoothing process, generally the less ironing I have to do. Vacation is all about relaxing, don’t waste your time ironing.

What are your packing essentials? Please share them with me in the comments below or on Instagram @theawkwarddomestic. SAFE TRAVELS EVERYONE!

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