How To Pack For Vacation, According To A Certified KonMari Consultant

Photographed by Ali Gavillet.
Packing for vacation can be almost daunting enough to make you lose all desire to actually take the trip, because there are just so many different ways to mess it up. You can over-pack, which forces you to pay extra to the airline for a way-too-heavy bag. You can under-pack, leaving behind what somehow always ends up being the most vital items — toothbrush, underwear, I'm looking at you. And, of course, you can pull a top-to-bottom botch, cramming tons of pieces you don't need and none of the ones you do into your suitcase with no organization whatsoever. Caitlin Roberts, a Master KonMari Consulant and the owner of Los Angeles-based Minimize With Purpose, believes we can all avoid all of these fails and more by applying the KonMari method to our packing.
Photo: Courtesy of Caitlin Roberts.
"The KonMari method is a philosophy of only surrounding yourself with items that bring you joy, which can be applied to all areas of your life – including packing for a vacation," Roberts tells Refinery29. "Packing is a fun opportunity to curate your personal items that are appropriate for your trip... Consider how you want to enjoy and experience your trip and then pack pieces that support that vision." Approaching packing as a "fun opportunity to curate" instead of something that we do at the last possible minute before leaving for vacation is one way to avoid bungling the whole thing, but Roberts has several more concrete packing tips.

Pack versatile items

Because travel often goes hand-in-hand with airline regulation-sized suitcases or limited trunk space, Roberts recommends opting for items that are multi-purpose or can be used for many different occasions. "In regards to clothing, you may elect to leave behind statement fashion pieces in favor for comfort-chic items that can last all day," the KonMari Consultant proposes.
That versatility rule can be applied to bath and beauty products as well. "Bring the items that you love to use every day. It is better to bring smaller sizes of your favorites than miscellaneous samples you have been collecting over time," Roberts explains. "This will help you avoid quick trips to the store to replace a product you ended up disliking and not having a replacement for."
When it comes to electronics, Roberts says, "keep it simple." "Consider what products will support how you want to spend time on your trip. Electronics add joy through functionality."

Store items vertically and compartmentalize

Anyone who has watched Tidying Up With Marie Kondo knows that she's a fan of vertical storage. Roberts reveals this method can also be applied to packing a suitcase. "Heavy items should be placed on the bottom and light pieces on the top to avoid wrinkling. Utilize the corners of the luggage as they will provide the best structure. You will maximize your space with folding and storing vertically."
Just as you might use compartment boxes to organize your drawers, compartment bags can be used to organize your suitcase. "Compartmentalized bags or pouches are really useful for categories with a lot of items such as jewelry or electronics. It is nice to utilize a pouch for your bath, beauty, and health products," Roberts says. "Canvas bags are a great option for covering and storing shoes."

Use the KonMari Folding Technique

More iconic than almost anything involved in the KonMari method is the rolled folding technique. Roberts says this technique is "ideal" for packing a suitcase. In fact, she points out that folding your items in this way all the time will actually make packing a lot easier. "When you are committed to showering your personal items with gratitude, you will be inspired to treat your items with care. For example, if you have already folded and stored your clothing items in your home, you will be rewarded with the ease of removing these already folded items and placing them directly into your suitcase," she tells Refinery29. "Upon arrival to your destination, you will be able to remove the nicely folded items and place them immediately into your hotel dresser. With a process so simple and streamlined, you will find yourself more motivated to actually fully unpack your suitcase. "

Organize by category or outfit

Roberts personally prefers to store her items by category. "I will consider the itinerary, weather, and the number of days that I will be traveling. I like to pack versatile pieces that are appropriate for many different occasions on my trip," she explains. "When I am ready to pack, I will pick items by category and develop outfits." However, the organization expert reveals that packing your items by outfit can also be helpful. "Some of my clients prefer to store by outfit, which is a nice technique — especially for kids."

Use packing accessories

Roberts mentioned using compartmentalized bags or pouches when packing, but those aren't the only accessories she says are worth a try. "I have learned that my clients love travel accessories — and there are some really great options out there! Packing cubes can be a great tool when packing for a long trip or for multiple members of your family in one suitcase. Jewelry cases or portfolios are a wonderful way to protect your most delicate items. My personal favorite is a wet-dry bag for your swimsuit," she says.
If you do decide to try out these accessories for your next trip, Roberts urges you to think about where you're going to store them when they're not being used so as not to contribute to clutter in your home. "If you have a larger size suitcase that you rarely use, this might be a perfect place to store these items. If not, select a bin or basket that can be stored near your luggage for easy access."

Utilize 90% of your suitcase

While most of us try to desperately to cram every nook and cranny of our suitcases with items we think we might need, Roberts understands the importance of leaving some room. According to her, using 90% of the space inside a suitcase will decrease the opportunity for wrinkles and allow room for that souvenir you know you're going to want.

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