Packing Like A Pro

Hey ladies (and gents!) Happy Monday to you all. I see that a lot of you are planning to travel this summer–woohoo–since I’ve been getting loads of emails asking about my packing recommendations. I’m so excited for you all!:) I’ve written a blog about my personal packing strategies about 3 years ago. If memory serves me well, I was preparing for a solo trip to Italy&Prague at that time so that’s sort of the context of that particular entry. You can read it here if you need a refresher, the tips I gave back then are still very relevant even if it’s a bit dated. I’ve made a few changes over the years but these tips are still very useful.

My good friend (and super jetsetter) Kelly Misa posted this on her blog last year, it’s worth sharing again. Lots of great tips for packing for a short trip 🙂

And here’s another video, this time by my other model friend Miranda Kerr (hehehehe, uyyy level sila ni Kelly!). This time it’s for her hand-carry bag with her in flight essentials. I love her style and her tips!!!

But just to indulge your questions even further, I thought of doing a simple Q&A style for today. Since most of you have similar concerns, I’ll just merge them for the sake of covering more ground. My brain is still on vacay mode, so you’ll have to bear with the errors as I’m just freely typing this. So, let’s do this!:)

1. How many suitcases do you usually bring for a trip?

It all depends of course on the duration of the trip. If it’s just a weekend getaway to a local destination, a small hand-carry bag will do for me. A backpack will be more than enough for Patrick, but he’s a boy, so yeah. Hehehe. But for trips that last longer than 10days, I usually have One (1) check in luggage (ranging between 15-23kg) and One (1) hand carry rolling luggage (5-7kg). 

Now that I’m in my 30s, having  wheels in my hand carry bag is a must. It’s just much more convenient, and come on you have to admit—having a giant duffle bag just doesn’t look as chic and causes back aches too! Cute siya nung bagets pa ako, but now hindi na siya cute sa sakit ng katawan..nyerks. Major manang issues! Just keeping it real, people. Hehehe. And also, having a roll-on is also better for your gadgets as well (assuming you will be taking them on your trip). It’s not ideal for you to have your iPads, laptops, speakers, cameras in a duffel bag/ soft carry-on which you will just dump on the floor from time to time. It can easily cause little bumps and bruises for your prized possessions. 

For trips to the States, with a bigger baggage allowance, you can have up to 2 check in suitcases per person. But in our case, even when we traveled to NYC last year, we just stuck with 1 check in bag each. Why? Well, it’s just more efficient and less stressful to travel light.  PLUS: You have less valuables to worry about, you can fit any room/elevator/taxi with ease, you  become less of a target for thieves, you don’t look too suspicious for authorities (who might suspect you’re smuggling goods or overstaying your visa limit). Less is more indeed! I’m sure this will change when we have children, but for now, this is what works for us.

2. How can you avoid going overweight?

Invest in a travel scale, you can purchase this at any Flight 001 store. Remember a travel scale can be more accurate than your bathroom weighing scale. 

I’ve mentioned this in the past packing entry, but I’ll say it again just to reiterate. Just try to keep at least 1/4 of your luggage empty or you can actually allot a quarter of your suitcase for things you’ll be consuming along the way like toiletries, snacks, or other items that you most likely won’t be traveling back home with. This allows you to have a bit of space for new purchases/pasalubongs/souvenirs for the trip home–without going overweight. As seen in my IG posts, I always have a LOOOOTTTTT of snacks in my maleta! Matakaw kasi ako at mas mura ang snacks sa atin kumpara sa ibang bansa! hahaha 🙂

For this trip, we used the Delsey Montmartre luggage collection which comes with a built-in overweight indicator. You just carry the main handle and if the red panel appears, then it’s over 23kgs. Ang galing talaga! Saves you the stress of having to weigh it again and again. So as long as there’s no red sign, you’re in the clear. It’s a line worth considering if you’re planning to purchase a new maleta. I also love the hardcase maletas in Flight 001, they’re really durable and come in bright and fun colors too. 

3. How are you able to pack enough clothes for an entire trip in just one maleta? 

First, be sure you are able to EDIT. Like I mentioned before, having your itinerary in place (or at least a rough agenda) will help you plot out your wardrobe more effectively. You’ll know what to ditch and what to save when you become more specific. Go for hardworking basics: clothes that can easily mix&match, low maintenance (no need for ironing/dry cleaning), figure flattering and durable. What is the theme of this getaway? Are you going to be doing lots of outdoorsy activities like water sports, mountain climbing, hiking? Are you going to be a chic siren in the city? Are you going to be sunbathing in the beach or snuggling in the winter? All these things must be addressed when you look at your clothes and shoes list. 

Second, be ready to do laundry. Yes, it’s a vacation. Yes, you’re supposed to be on holiday, meaning free from chores and all the mundane things in your daily grind. But the only way you will be able to manage your wardrobe is by being a labandera. It’s either that or overpacking and paying for excess baggage fees. I usually pack a bar of Perla soap in a ziplock bag, it’s perfect for washing undergarments, tank tops, and smaller articles of clothing which you can just hang in your hotel bathroom to dry overnight. But for jeans, jackets, knits, and other items which require more attention—you can always just dump them all in your rolling hand-carry suitcase and head to the nearest laundromat. For a few cents, you can have your clothes ready in less than an hour. You can use the time to catch up on your reading or have coffee while waiting. For this trip however, we’ve been lucky enough to stay in flats with washing machines so I’ve been doing the laundry happily throughout my stay here. 

BUT I did have a very unfortunate experience in Barcelona last week..I left my clothes to dry in the balcony of our apartment. We head out to do some sightseeing and when I got back my favorite Polka Dot polo and Denim shorts were gone!!!! They flew away!!! Gone with the wind, literal. I didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye. I wasn’t able to tell them how much I valued much I appreciated them. Hayyy, lesson right there. Life is short, so don’t take your clothes for granted. Huhuhuhu. So there, make sure you secure you keep an eye on your clothes! 

And LASTLY, invest in good packing aids like the SpacePak system of Flight001. This is pricey, yes, but believe me they will do wonders for your maleta! There a lot of copycats out there, but I urge you to get the original ones. They keep things super organized and compact.  I also love the travel kits of Beabi, they have nice gadget organizers, toiletry sets, and laundry bags. 

4. What lock should I invest in for my luggage?
A lot of people make the mistake of just buying ANY small padlock or luggage lock for their suitcases. Please, please, please make sure the lock is TSA approved. TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration. Basically, this system allows for the security officers in any airport in the world to access your suitcase. This gives them the master key to open any bag if an inspection is required. This means they won’t have to jam your maleta and wreck it, if the authorities want to open it. So the authorities can inspect your bag at the airport and after which it still remains locked and secure from would be thieves.  

5. How do you deal with Padalas and Pasalubongs?  How do I say NO to someone who is asking me to buy things for them? I don’t have enough space in my suitcase for additional items!

I love giving pasalubongs, not that my loved ones expect it all the time—if I have extra money on me, I just like getting some small gifts for my family and close friends. It just shows that I was thinking of them while I was on holiday. There are times when I’m on a tight budget so I’m not always able to buy pasalubongs, but kung kaya ng pitaka, then go!!! It makes me happy to see my loved ones happy 🙂

However, when it comes to padalas and pabilis—Hmm, I have to admit I’m personally on the fence with this whole practice. For one, it causes a great inconvenience for the person you’re asking a favor from. One must remember that this person is on holiday, chances are he really worked his arse off for this trip, begged his boss for a leave, made a lot of sacrifices to set aside enough money for the ticket, and so on—so asking this person to buy you this or that, even if you are sending your own money (may kasamang listahan pa with size, color, brand) is really a bit inconsiderate of this person’s valued time. Can you imagine, instead of spending the day sightseeing, enjoying a nice cup of coffee, or visiting a museum..this friend of yours will have the burden of having to browse through different stores and figure out how to pack all your orders into their already cramped suitcase. Kawawa naman 🙁 Of course, it’s a completely different story if the person is your close friend/family member who has offered to do this for you (I’ve done this several times but only for people close to me)—then by all means, be grateful for the offer. But it’s different to actually approach a person (especially someone who’s not really close to you) and insist on having an errand done. I remember a friend of mine was going to the States and posted about it in her FB wall and someone wrote on the comments “Oh you’re going to LA, can you buy me this XXXX straightening iron and blow dryer?”. I was so tempted to answer this person “They’re going on THEIR HONEYMOON!!! Please woman, leave them alone so they can enjoy romancing each other!”. Hehehe! Of course, I didn’t do that..but you catch my drift. Tanchahan lang siguro, diba? It’s a case to case basis kind of thing. In the end, when asking for favors (whether travel related or in your daily encounters), always remember to be considerate of the person you are asking a favor from and try your best to compensate for it in a sincere and appreciative way. 

So for the person who was asking about how to say NO to requests for “padalas” and “pabilis”. HMMM, that’s tricky really. I guess I’m lucky because I have very sensitive friends who never stress me out, hehehe, so I don’t have much experience in this matter. BUT, I guess it won’t hurt to just be honest and manage expectations right away. Just politely decline and tell them that you won’t have the time and space to cater to their request. If they are your real friends, they will understand for sure and won’t demand for it. 

6. How can you pull off different looks with just a few pieces of clothing? 

In my many years of travel, packing has become my least favorite activity. There are times when I feel excited to plan my outfits–but when it comes to the actual folding, sorting and filing, hay, sometimes I wish my clothes would just fold themselves and fall magically into my maleta.

But since you asked, I’ll try to be as candid and as generous as possible with my tips. Don’t laugh okay…but I actually do a mini fashion show a few days before each trip! HAHAHA!!! I know, it sounds so kikay of me. But I usually do it when Patrick is busy answering his work emails/working on a video edit—since hindi rin naman niya ako papansinin, this always seems like the perfect time to play dress up. Sometimes I talk to myself in the accent of the country I’m heading to, just to make it fun! Hahaha! Syempre lilingon nalang si Patrick sa kin bigla “Sino kausap mo?!” Hehehe! I’m just silly like that! 

I then segregate the “Hard Workers” in one pile and the “Happy Pieces” in another section. The Hard Workers are basics that come in neutral tones (gray, white, denim, khaki, black) that can easily work with other items while the Happy Pieces are items I just find pretty, inspiring, or appropriate for the theme I’m gunning for. A Happy Piece could be a nice floral dress, a glitzy halter top, or a pretty lace blouse. Like what the Vogue editor mentioned in the video, it’s good to keep the ratio at 80-20. From there, I come up with combos for the HW and HP and try them on 🙂 Another pile on the side is for accessories (shades, earrings, necklaces, bracelets). Here’s a little example to give you an idea.

HARD WORKERS                                    HAPPY PIECES
Pants 1                                                       Printed Blouse 
Pants 2                                                       Knitted Sweater
Pants 3                                                       Button Down Polo
Jacket 1                                                      Neon Cardigan
Jacket 2                                                     Floral Lace Top
                                                                    Glitzy Dress
Shoes 1
Shoes 2
Shoes 3

Outfit A: Pants 1, Jacket 2, Printed Blouse, Shoes 2
Outfit B: Pants 1, Jacket 3, Knitted Sweater, Shoes 1
Outfit C: Pants 1, Jacket 1, Floral Lace Top, Shoes 3
Oufit D: Glitzy Dress, Neon Cardigan, Shoes 2

So this can go on and on until you have several outfit combos good enough for your entire trip! Add accessories and you’ve got a whole range of looks just waiting to be debuted! It’s just a matter of mixing and matching and being creative. This also allows you to plan for when you can do the laundry as well (if you will be staying longer). 

To give the illusion of having different looks (and fooling people on IG/Twitter that you didn’t repeat your clothes), you can opt to wear the pieces differently each time. You can wear a button down polo open with a tank top and a big chunky necklace on Monday, then wear the same button down polo but closed all the way to the top button and layer with a cardigan on a Friday. Change your shades, add a hat, alter your hairstyle (ponytail, side braid, pin straight, curls) and you’ll shake things a bit even more. You don’t have to spend a LOT to look great, you just have to know how to maximize each article of clothing and work it!

7. How do I pack for unpredictable weather?

Because of Global Warming, the weather has become so unpredictable. Even forecasts are not 100% full proof. I remember seeing Thunderstorm-Thurnderstorm-Thunderstorm in the forecast for the week of our wedding. We kept praying for the Lord to give us clear skies on our special day—not only did he keep the clouds from raining, he bathed us with an extra dose of sunlight! It was super, super, super hot and sunny on our wedding day! It was Summer in November! 🙂 🙂

For traveling, it’s good to research on the climate and weather forecast at least a week before leaving. Even if it’s not 100% accurate, it’ll still help you plan and strategize accordingly. The trick is to bring clothes that can be layered. I always have a generic cardigan in white, gray, black–these serve as fillers for my dressy blouses and jackets/coats. I use the cardigans inside to add a bit of warmth when it gets chilly. When it gets warmer, I can easily slip off the cardigan without sacrificing the entire look and just dump it in my handbag. Scarves are also incredible for unpredictable weather!

Of course, if you have rainy days ahead of you–a stylish payong will always be an obvious lifesaver. Invest in a small but durable foldable umbrella—not those flimsy ones that flip over when faced with powerful wind.

Pack shoes for different weather and terrains. I normally pack flats for all my trips, I’ve long given up on wearing high heels and stilettos for travels. It’s just not worth my luggage space. Flats with rubber soles are ideal and all rubber boots are perfect for rain and snow!:) 

SO there you have it! My 7 new tips for packing 🙂 I hope this helps you guys, I really tried my very best to answer your queries. Some are pretty much basic and “DUH, I knew that!” but I hope it serves as a good reminder pa rin. You don’t have to agree with all my tips and suggestions. Of course, each person is different and each destination is unique, so just go with the ones you feel would be useful for you and make your own rules as you go along. Happy traveling, gals and guys!!!

5 Responses to Packing Like A Pro

  1. Ooohhhh, thanks for these tips Patty! I so love reading your blog, it surely sends me goooood and happy vibes a hundred miles away.. I’m from Bacolod, so glad you enjoyed your stay here in my hometown.. Hope to meet you when you revisit our city.. I’m a such a fan.. Hehehe 🙂

    P.S. I laughed at your post: doing a mini fashion show a few days before each trip, not because I find it ridiculous, it’s because I do it too! You’re not alone, don’t worry! 😉

  2. Super duper appreciate this post…so much more you did it while still in vacay. I have read most of your post on travelling tips over the year but honestly I would check the items kaso over my allotted budget.

    However as I also gain experience in my own travelling for two it make sense to also invest not just in the vacation itself but to your luggage as well to keep your valuables safe. I have a weekender bag from Follow Your Heart that has been with me since my 1st travel and it is still in tip top shape.

  3. Hi Patty! This is among my favorite posts, especially that part about Hard Workers and Happy Pieces. Thanks for sharing this to us. I love to plan and have a tendency towards OCness so this is really appreciated. I even photographed each item in my closet and organized them into albums for quick reference. Hehe. Have a nice weekend!