By Tashia Rahl

It’s one of the top ten “least-favorite-mandatory-tasks” in life. It has to be done, and it has to be done well. In my business, we offer the service of packing because if it’s not done well, the consequences can be miserable.

There are so many things to consider – the venues, the objective of your voyage, the people you will encounter and might encounter, the activities that are planned and that might happen, the weather [and the potential weather], the culture of the destination, the airline fees for luggage, the amount of time that you may have to carry/wheel your suitcase, the importance of comfort vs looking your best; the list could be continued for hours…the reason for this commentary is your trip depends on how good you look! (..which substantiates how you feel).

Think about it – the last time you had that feeling of looking really good: people treated you differently; you carried yourself taller. The issue is packing the right pieces in order to meet the objective of the trip…and not going into bankruptcy with baggage fees.

The very first step is evaluating what needs to be accomplished: nail the account, get the promotion, land the job, change the idea, research and investigate information, visit a landmark, attend a social event, etc… This step is to take the time to consider the appropriateness of your attire, accessories and overall presentation. If you are on a business trip, you need to represent the company image. If you are on a social journey, consider that you represent not just yourself, but your hometown, your culture, your school, etc…To be specific, if you are visiting Yosemite National Park, you might opt for unwrinkled shorts that fit and flatter paired with a coordinating top and comfortable hiking boots, rather than simply an outfit that wasn’t well thought out. Many do not give effort or energy to an outfit on vacation outside of comfort which leads to a disheveled look – not great for the photo album. This certainly doesn’t mean that you have to look ‘decked’ – it means that a polished look of comfort is preferred.

The second step is to consider the weather and what the weather might bring. Everyone knows the drill, for possible rain, bring whatever rainproof gear you need – if you do, it is certain to be sunny, but if you don’t, expect torrential downpours. Everyone in New England knows to bring sweatshirts for the evenings…but not this summer: they were left folded on the shelves. On the other hand, Mother Nature had a mood swing in the Rockies: despite predictions in the mid fifties, last Saturday night dropped to 31*F! Needless to say, the strapless dress that was planned for a wedding was hid by a fur stole that was never removed the entire night. Obviously, shopping is fun [and necessary], but this article is about packing – therefore, we always suggest layers. The best way to do this is to go from light interior to dark exteriors…

The last step is to make ensembles that include the absolutely necessary and then recycle the outfit using different pieces and accessories. We advise our clients to dress as nicely as possible without sacrificing comfort during travel because you never know what influential person you may meet. One of the greatest ways to get upgraded to first class is to look like you already belong there. A dark colored wool gabardine blazer, crisp cotton button front shirt, polished belt and designer jeans with loafers is a common ensemble for travelling. Although this blazer should not be used for an important meeting –we suggest suits for important meetings- it would be re-used for an informal meeting or dinner. Additionally, that crisp cotton shirt could now be placed under a cardigan with trousers and belted, etc…most pieces should be re-used at least once.

In closing, do not forget to pack the carry-on for the infamous ‘lost bag syndrome’…there’s nothing like having clean underwear and a fresh change of clothes when you have no suitcase. And no matter what, don’t forget the accessories: they’re light and transform the blah to chic.

What’s the point in travelling if you can’t feel accomplished and chic?