Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Traveling Light: Do You Know How to Pack Like a Pro?

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True story: I’ve been more or less living out of a suitcase for the past 20 years.

Actually, maybe more: As a child of divorced parents living in different states, I began boarding planes on my own at age 6 and remember well the annual ritual of packing for a full summer at my father’s home. So it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about packing a suitcase. By the time I was due to depart for college, I was already a pro.


But it was becoming a model that really polished those skills. Bouncing from location to location—and, often, climate to climate—while living out of an increasingly shrinking carry-on (thanks, TSA) is not for the faint of heart. But if you know how to do it, it can be a lot of fun (or, at least, a cool party trick).

I wish I could say that things have mellowed over the years, but as a Chicago-based editor at a New York City-based publication, mine is now a life lived ... midcoastally (Chicago being the “third coast”). In fact, I just spent the last two months living out of two small suitcases in a guest bedroom—and boy, is my wardrobe tired.


So when I caught Oneika the Traveller’s new Facebook series “One Bag and You’re Out” by the Travel Channel, I knew I’d found my ministry. And as many of us are packing today to take off for the holidays, I thought it was worth the friendly reminder: YOU DON’T NEED ALL THAT STUFF.

For serious: Whether you’re packing for the next week or the next two months, as long as you have access to laundry facilities, you can easily create a capsule wardrobe that’ll keep you looking fly on the fly.


Now, Oneika’s tips are clearly more directed at international travelers like herself headed to warm-weather destinations. This evening, I’m headed from Chicago to Minneapolis. Needless to say, the lightweight jackets she’s recommending ain’t gon’ cut it.

So how do I go from brick city to arctic tundra in one carry-on? Check it:

Pack in neutrals and layers: Oneika got this right for sure. And I know—it sounds more basic than festive. But if you get your shapes and accessories right, it’s anything but. For this weeklong trip, I’ve got:

  • one black tank
  • one black lightweight thermal turtleneck
  • one black-and-white-striped long-sleeved crew
  • one charcoal lightweight sheer wool tunic
  • one charcoal lightweight sweaterdress
  • one heather logo sweatshirt
  • one pair of sweatpants (for lounging with the fam)
  • one pair of jeans (with a velvet tuxedo stripe because holidays)
  • one pair of black crepe pants
  • one pair of black overalls (for playing with the kiddos)
  • one set of workout leggings and top
  • one lightweight linen robe
  • one nightgown
  • six sets of underwear
  • three bras (including a sports bra)
  • four sets of socks (including sports socks)
  • one pair of black control-top opaque tights (Spanx to the rescue!)
  • my toiletry kit
  • my flat iron
  • a brush
  • one pair of sneakers
  • one pair of velvet loafers
  • one pair of slippers
  • my favorite motorcycle boots, which I’ll wear on the plane (they slide off and on easily in security)

In addition, I’m taking a black beret, a pair of gloves, three sets of earrings and a bracelet, an eternity scarf and a scarf/head wrap. And I’ve fit it all into a universally TSA-mandated 14-by-22-by-9-inch hard-side roller bag. Don’t believe me? Again, check it:


With today expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season, I want to take up as little space as possible (save for my down coat, which is nonnegotiable in these temps). But since I may return with more than I depart with, I’ll employ my other pro tip, which is to slip my purse into a slightly larger shoulder bag just in case Santa comes with more than gift cards this year.

Well, it’s almost time to fly, so I’d better get going. But wherever you’re going this holiday, I hope it’s a happy one!