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November 20, 2011

Reader Question: Packing for the Weekend

Hi JJ,

I am going away for Thanksgiving weekend and wanted your advice on what to pack. I always end up either not bringing enough or bringing too much stuff. Any suggestions?

- AH

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Hi AH,

Packing is always difficult, especially around the holidays (and often more so with family involved) when you have a variety of occasions to pack for, but don’t want to show up on your parents’ doorstep looking like you need a bellhop to manage all the bags you’ve brought. When I’m packing for a weekend away, the first thing I do is figure out the exact number of outfits I’m going to need, from nice clothes for dinner, to travel clothes, to casual day wear.

For an occasion like Thanksgiving, you will generally need one more formal outfit for Thanksgiving dinner and the rest of the weekend can be a bit more casual. Let’s assume that you are leaving Wednesday evening and returning Sunday afternoon. This means that you need outfits for 4 days plus Thanksgiving dinner-wear, pajamas, and whatever you will be traveling in.

This is what my packing list would look like with the items I would wear for traveling indicated:
       -       Denim (wear)
       -       Woven and/or knit shirt – 3 (wear one)
       -       Lightweight sweater (wear)
       -       Sport jacket (wear)
       -       Dress boots (wear)
       -       Socks, Underwear, Undershirts, & Handkerchiefs – 5 pair each
       -       PJ bottoms
       -       Chinos – if you want an extra pant option
       -       Dress trousers
       -       Dress shirt
       -       Dress socks
       -       Tie – 1-2
       -       Cufflinks, Pocket Square, Tie bar
       -       Dopp kit with toiletries

As you can see, I choose to wear the bulkiest pieces and layer a lot. Not only does this save packing space, but it gives you some extra layers because busses and trains are always colder than expected.
One of the most space-consuming items is shoes, so I always try to stick to either a single pair that is utilitarian enough to be dressed up or down (and that way I can wear them and thus not take up any space), or if not possible then one extra pair that is as space-conscious as possible. I always pack my shoes in dust bags, that way there is no need to separate my shoes from the rest of my clothes, saving space.  I will also use the space inside each of my shoes for any small items, such as rolled ties, pocket squares, and the ever-necessary handkerchief. I sleep in my undershirt because it saves a little space, but you can also pack a t-shirt to serve that purpose.

Another good tip is that whenever I buy my hair, skin, and fragrance products, I ask for samples. If they don’t have samples to give, I will often buy small containers so that I can make my own travel-sized toiletries. This saves a lot of space when it comes to big bottles like shampoo and body wash.

If you are staying with family and can take advantage of their laundry facilities, you can pack half the amount of skin layers (meaning anything that touches your skin like socks, underwear, and undershirts) and do a wash on Saturday morning.

Good luck with your packing and enjoy the weekend!

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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