Few people relish the daunting task of packing, and even fewer have mastered the art of packing like a pro. Unless you and Martha Stewart share the same DNA, you’re going to need a few tips to ensure that you are well-prepared for your trip to the Grand Canyon, the next sofa in your couch-surfing career, or the Betty Ford Center. There’s nothing like arriving at your destination and realizing you forgot your toothbrush, or unraveling a twisted, wrinkled clump of clothes you were going to wear for orientation night.
With these pointers at your disposal, in no time flat you will be packing your suitcase, storage boxes, and car so expertly people will be paying you to do it for them. And at $26,000 a month to kick the peace pipe habit, you could certainly use the extra cash.
Outsmart the Suitcase
Whether you’re working with an overnight bag, a suitcase, or an entire cargo pallet of luggage, you somehow always find yourself sitting on the bag in an effort to zip it shut. No fear—there is a way to pack a suitcase that will not only allow you to fit in more things that you will never wear (yes, we know that a v-neck white t-shirt is vastly different from a scoop-neck white t-shirt), but ensure that your clothing doesn’t like you wore them in a pro wrestling match. Here’s the rundown:
- Take your pants (jeans, slacks, parachute pants) and fold them in half lengthwise, then place the waistband flush up against the left inner side of the suitcase. Allow the legs to hang over the right edge for now. Place the next pair on top of the first, except with the waistband on the right this time. Continue on, switching sides until you have all your pants in the pile. (So far this might look like the way you always pack, but we’re not done yet.)
- Gather up your socks and underwear and put them into plastic bags to keep them clean. If you are also packing a bra, place the socks inside the cups to help them hold their shape. (Wearing the sock-padded bra is optional.) Roll them up and stuff them into the extra shoes you are bringing.
- Wrap your belts around the interior edges of the suitcase. Winding them up into a tight coil sounds like a good idea until they unravel like a fireman’s hose. And no, that’s not a metaphor.
- Place your shoes or other heavy items (just remember, you can’t take your bong with you on an airplane) on the bottom of the suitcase—the side where the wheels are—for better weight distribution.
- Roll your shirts as tightly as you can and place them in a neat little row on top of your pants. This allows you to fit more items into your suitcase while preventing wrinkles—the perfect solution for those of us who are allergic to irons.
- Now, back to your pants. (And how many times have we said this sentence?) Take the bottoms of your acid-washed jeans and stirrup pants that are hanging over the edge of the suitcase and fold them ontop of your rolled shirts.
- Finally, put any toiletry bags, curling irons, Brylcreem, personal massagers (wink, wink) on top and voila! Done and done. Helpful hint: thread your necklaces through straws first so they don’t get tangled up en route.
Think Inside the Box
No matter who you are or what your lifestyle, everyone needs a good box—of wine, that is. But just because your cup of red doesn’t pack a punch doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to pack a box:
- When you pack a box it is crucial that you start with the heavy items at the bottom so they don’t squish everything else. Normally this goes without saying, but that Fisheye Shiraz is more potent than you think.
- You also want to make sure to wrap anything that stands a good chance of getting crushed (hearts not included). Rolled socks are perfect for stuffing into glassware and bubble wrap or newspapers should be wrapped around fragiles.
- Don’t leave any open space in the box. These gaps are just begging the contents of the box to shift and break while in transit. You know all those ragged t-shirts and washcloths you never use? Stuff them into the unfilled areas so everything in the box is safe and snug.
- When you are finished packing, write down the contents of the box on the side with a black Sharpie while it is still fresh in your mind. There’s nothing worse than having to dig through 20 boxes just to find the coffee maker on move-in day.
- Pack a “first night” box. Rather than hunt through the bathroom box for your toothbrush, the bedroom box for your pjs, the kitchen box for your cutlery, put everything you’ll need in the first 24 hours of arrival into one, convenient carton.
Master the Road Trip
Forget about airports (especially if you have a substance abuse problem, Cheech) and moving trucks—now it’s time to talk about life on the open road. A road trip can create some of the most memorable moments of your life, like when you got stung by a bee and by the time you emptied out your car to find the emergency kit your arm swelled to the size of a watermelon. That’s because you didn’t pack properly. So here’s how to successfully pack for a road trip:
- Always have an emergency kit onboard. Even though you would much rather use the extra room for your gaming console, pack it. Include items like bottled water, flares, a flashlight, a space blanket (ok, it’s called a Mylar blanket, but space blanket sounds so much cooler), and of course your epinephrine for bee stings. Pack this kit in the glove box or under the front seat for easy access.
- Hang shoe organizers over the seat backs for the rear passengers to store all their snacks and activities. If you don’t drive like a maniac, they may even let you borrow a pocket or two for your complete collection of Engelbert Humperdinck CDs.
- Bring a map. The GPS on your smartphone is great, but we all know those batteries last about three minutes. So if your phone dies or you can’t get a signal, have a handy old-school map. You know, the kind where you turn, not swipe, the pages?
- Speaking of phones, bring a phone charger that is compatible with your car, and better yet, use a two-port charger to prevent fighting over whose phone needs juicing up the most to make that rehab center check-in call. And if you’re a real technophile or just have ADD, you’ll want a multi-way charger.
- Keep in mind that packing the interior of the car up to the roof will make seeing out the back window more difficult. Unless you are David Copperfield and have no problem rigging up an elaborate set of mirrors to see what’s behind the car, leave at least a foot of room.
- Use standalone plastic drawers in the trunk. Depending on how big your trunk is, use two to four of these handy-dandy see-through boxes. Now instead of hauling out a gigantic suitcase to find your stress balls because the driver won’t stop playing Top 40 bubble gum pop Side B hits of the ‘80s, you can simply open a drawer and remove what you need.
There you have it: easy little hacks you can use to help you pack a suitcase, box, or car like a professional. Now that you’re a pro, you can start charging for your services. Packing services, that is.