Having a packing panic attack? Follow these steps

Having a packing panic attack? Follow these steps

Q. I have recently begun to travel more for my job. Can you give me some packing tips to insure that my clothes will still look professional when I reach the hotel?

A. Your first concern should be that your clothing actually makes it to the hotel. The longer your trip, the more important are the items that travel with you. Your checked-on suitcase may wind up in Dallas, but that may not be your destination, and your hand is firmly on your carry-on bag as you deplane in Houston. Business travel is stressful enough without adding worries about lost luggage.

My most anxiety-avoiding nugget of advice is to imitate men who have the most frequent flyer miles: Experienced travelers avoid checking any luggage at all. When possible, try to use only a carry-on suitcase with wheels. If that is not practical, wear (or at least carry with you) one good-looking acceptable business outfit, and tuck into your small carry-on one shirt and two ties that match that shirt or the one you’re wearing. After that, the rest is icing.

Regarding the packing itself, for the fewest wrinkles, here are some simple but significant steps. Place in your bag freshly-dry-cleaned clothes – still on their hangers and in their plastic bags. If a jacket has not just been cleaned, put one plastic bag on a hanger, then your jacket, and then top it with another plastic bag. The plastic prevents wrinkling. Pack jackets unbuttoned; and ties need to be kept smooth (which can include rolling, if that is your preference). Even if you hate lugging too many clothes, don’t travel with a too-large suitcase. Garments with too much room tend to slip around and wrinkle.  

The best way to carry shirts is folded as they come from the laundry, and stacked in a zippered mesh bag. One plain white shirt and one plain light blue shirt are ideal for your lightest packing. If you might need more than two shirts, make the third something with some color and pattern that can also be worn more casually.

Socks and underwear make great padding. Insert them in clothing folds and in shoulder curves to minimize wrinkling. Fold clothes along natural creases and seams. When packing more than one pair of trousers, here is a trick that works: fold them in half and then interfold the two pairs.

The most useful and clever packing product I have discovered is a lightweight 3-shelf hanging device that folds down to fit into most travel bags. “Shelves to Go!” are collapsible mesh shelves that lift out to hang on the closet pole, without any need to unpack or refold your clothes, creating a closet in your hotel within seconds. When it’s time to leave, drop the whole system into your suitcase again, and you’re ready to go. It eliminates the need to put your things into questionable hotel drawers, and minimizes the chances of leaving things behind.   

Pack shoes on the bottom of your bag (in cloth shoe bags to keep them from soiling your clothes), or put them in pockets provided for them in the sides of well-designed luggage. If they are a style that may be damaged by being crushed, use socks or other small items stuffed inside to maintain their  shape. Did you know that these days some better hotels will provide you with sneakers for workouts during your stay?

Almost as important as all of the above, and often forgotten because of the exhaustion of travel, is unpacking. When you arrive at your hotel room, immediately unzip your bag and hang up the hangers even if you’re not quite ready to completely unpack. If all else fails, you can use that old trick: slightly creased wool garments will “steam out” and shed their wrinkles in a bathroom made moist by running a hot shower.

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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