I don’t think I am a very good packer! Somehow, with all the trips and travels in my life, you would think I had a fairly smooth process.

No, it just never quite works out the way I originally planned. Do you have this problem? This time, I say, I am going to pack the minimum. I’m going to really pay attention to “outfits” to save space. I am going to be organized within my suitcase for easy access on arrival. And on and on.

This was my suitcase just before leaving home.

Here are some things I have learned and a few recommendations:

Packing Cubes: love them or hate them

I’ve used packing cubes on almost every trip: some sort of cube whether it is an actual cube shape or a flat packing envelope. They work. Sort of. I usually end up with a hodge podge mix of flat, rolled always too bulky, items and bundles and it drives me crazy!

Contrary to suggestions from many other bloggers,  I did not use one cube for just pants and another cube for only tops. I sort of mixed and matched. Now, I also had a few items that were only going one way: I knew I would be leaving them at my daughter’s house in Manchester ready for future visits. So that definitely entered into my thinking and packing.

So this time I bought an entire set of cubes. It doesn’t really matter which cubes you buy: I went for inexpensive from Amazon. Here is what I bought:

packing cubes

Shacke Pak

I definitely liked these cubes but only used three of them. You can overstuff them as they have no shape or hard sides; they stack in the suitcase; and I use them in the drawers here and in the hotel to keep clothes organized…. that is a huge plus for me.

Two Tips for Pre Packing:

Lay clothes out so you see what you have. Be SURE to try them on beforehand! Yes, I’ve packed things many times only to realize they don’t feel great on me, are out of style, too long, too short or just not right.

Don’t assume just because you love it at home and it feels right there that it will “feel” the same way in another environment. I think this is very important. I live in a small village in the country and rarely need to dress up. London? A totally different story. So beware.

The Clothes That Worked for Me:

*I brought stretch pants from Athleta (one of my favorite stores), similar to these.

*My favorite black leggings from Loft/Lou and Gray.  I love love these leggings. I am barely 5’4″ and these go just to my ankle. A Small is perfect for me (size 6)

*A new purchase from Garnet Hill: Perfect Travel Pants.   These are very soft and the wide waist band looks wonderful. Pockets are a nice addition; length is fine. I had to exchange the S for XS, so they definitely run large. But… they are a bit baggy for my taste. They just feel sort of lumpy (frumpy?) which is a shame. But I will certainly keep them and wear them. Again, this might partly be due to where I was wearing them : a cosmopolitan city is very different from running errands at home!

*And then, of course, a pair of tried and true jeans.

Shoes: Winners and Losers

This is always a tricky one, right? I have become more and more casual in what I wear. I will even (gulp!) wear my walking sneakers on a city street or travelling. For this trip I bought, weeks ahead of time, and wore around the house for days, two pairs of Vionic casual shoes.

These were the clear winners: The Vionic Penelope

Vionic is one of the very best brands for anyone with any kind of foot problem. They have lots of arch support, are not too narrow, and come with removable inserts. This makes it easy to put in your own orthotics, or a heel support or anything that works for you. Also, I really like the slip-on style. I planned to wear these on the flight(s) over so we’re talking a good twelve hours.


The runner-up was these: Karigan in Slate

They are also slip-on and worked fairly well in my hours in the house. But they just didn’t seem quite as comfortable in some way. But I persevered and decided to keep them as they are cute and now, yes, comfortable.

I also brought a pair of black suede flats (also Vionic) that I know are comfy although not for very long sight-seeing kind of walks.

And, I knew I had a pair of Nike walking sneakers at my daughter’s house.

Makeup, Kits and Accessories:

This is an on-going issue for me. Do you feel you have/take too many various kits of makeup, hair accessories, necessary skin lotions each with its own use? For years now I’ve used the Emme bag: you can read all about it HERE. 

While I love my Emme bag, it does not, by any means, hold all that I need to take with me. So I now use, in addition to Emme, two or three clear plastic makeup bags.

These, from Ulta, have worked very well: they are clear so very easy to see just what is in them and the long shape holds eyeliner, eyebrow pencils etc. nicely.



The pencil case style is wonderful as it is long, doesn’t narrow at top, and has sturdy zipper. The brand is Tartan + Twine. Unfortunately, this style is no longer available, but here is a similar:

Clear Kit

My one caveat is to not buy a solid (fabric) color: you will mess around endlessly searching for that brush, powder etc. or will have to dump out everything in your search!


These are just a few of the things that have worked for me. I am someone who invariably brings too much but yes, I am learning.

Do you have comments about any of these items or suggestions? We would all love to hear and welcome you to leave a comment below!