Just because your wife knows how to shop doesn’t mean she knows how to pack (sorry, ladies). Here are some smart packing tips that I’ve found particularly useful for saving space, and saving your back on the road.
#1 Stack and shape
The key to maximizing space is getting items to stack more or less in the same shape. While this is straightforward with men’s clothes since they kind of fold the same way (shirts all the same, trousers all the same), women’s clothes come in all shapes, sizes and cuts, and so if you fold in a careless way you end up with some extremely odd shapes and sizes. Packing these on top of each other wastes space, and can look disorganised. So try to find a way to fold each item to create a standard shape and stack them together.
#2 Use any space you can find
Shoes. Of course your wife needs 5 pairs of shoes for the week’s holiday (more if it’s longer). Of course. Don’t fight it, just be clever how you pack them. Put each pair heel to toe and wrap them tightly (with yoga pants, leggings, pajama bottoms or something like that) to compress space. For boots and sneakers, you should use the internal space for socks, underwear, or even toiletries.
#3 Shopping is the answer
Now here is where you have to be really clever, boys. You do have some influence over what goes in the bag, even if it seems like you don’t. Encourage her to pack versatile, multi-use pieces of clothing that can do double (or even triple) duty. Better yet, a few well-timed pre-trip purchases for her will be well received and sure to be brought along. If you buy her a light wrap sweater that is good for daytime wear and can be dressed up for the evening, she’ll be pleased at your thoughtfulness and good taste (and she’ll ditch that bulky trenchcoat). A nice pair of stylish flats are also a boy’s best friend (number one, because they’re easy to pack, and number 2, because you won’t have to wait for her while she’s hobbling around painfully in the cobbled streets of Paris with her newest Louboutins). These will be sure to be included in the holiday packing, and she’ll wear them day and night (and leave behind those books that take up much more space, which brings us to the next point).
Magazines. The bane of a travelling man’s existence (especially one whose wife is a writer): those big fat heavy fashion magazines which you lug around the world so that she can flip through them on the beach within 5 minutes. It’s time to go digital. Once you’ve downloaded the Apple Newstand or Zinio app, she’ll be able to speed read her way through a mountain of tomes and save your shoulders a lot of wear and tear.
Avoid the biggest parent trap of all: loading up on stuff when travelling with your child. Resist the temptation to bring along the entire nursery. Remember that wherever you are going, they have kids there too which means it’s easy to find diapers, baby gear, toys, clothes etc even in remote areas. Travel with only enough for the journey, and buy everything you need once you arrive. It sounds wasteful, but trust me, this is key. Even if your child insists on bringing their favourite toys or books, say no…the joy of traveling is discovering the new, and this practice will instill this lesson early. They will appreciate the thrill of a new toy or book on the road, and relish in the fact that they have a new one to add to their collection.Main photo: via Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5