How to pack for a two-week trip with a small suitcase


Ask any frequent traveler their rules for a trip and you'll probably hear the same advice: never check a suitcase. Hand luggage only. But fitting everything you need, especially for a longer stay, into a small suitcase and a tote or backpack requires some ingenuity: The maximum dimensions for luggage that goes in most overhead compartments are 22 by 14 by 9 inches. , and while most domestic flights don't have weight limits, or at least don't enforce them, some international and trans-Pacific flights do (some Delta flights to Asia, for example, have a 22-pound limit, while Hawaiian Airlines maximum is 25 pounds). The reward, if you do it right: faster airport experiences that don't involve the risk of lost luggage, and fewer decisions about what to wear upon arrival. Here you'll find tried and true advice from some experts.

Although some regular travelers opt for soft bags (New York stylist Ian Bradley, 38, prefers the roomy, oversized LL Bean Adventure Duffel; most opt ​​for hard suitcases with wheels. “They're lighter,” says Hitha Palepu, 39, a New York-based author and entrepreneur who wrote what may be the definitive book on the subject, 2017's “How to Pack: Traveling Smart for Any Trip.” The polycarbonate material used for hard-sided suitcases, he explains, “is about half the weight of the durable nylon used in soft-sided suitcases.” These are the bags with wheels that our experts recommended:

  • A roller German brand Rimowa is often considered the gold standard and many people we spoke to vouched for the products' durability. “They are more expensive, but a worthwhile investment,” says New York artist Laila Gohar, 35. (Like Antwerp-based architect Vincent Van Duysen, 62, she flies with the Aluminum Cabin model). For those concerned about weight limits: The brand's lightest full-size carry-on is the Essential Lite Cabin, at 4.9 pounds.

  • Palepu He is a fan of the hard-shell suitcases from the American brand Beis, which are considerably cheaper than those from Rimowa. “They have the best compression in a suitcase, really solid construction, and a padded handle for dragging them through the airport,” he says.

  • New York-based chef and author Andy Baraghani, 34, who completed a multi-city book tour last year, likes the Away Bigger Carry-On: Aluminum Edition because it feels indestructible, he says. “And the shiny finish of it stands out from the rest of the airport luggage.” (Just be careful to check that your above-average dimensions are compatible with your airline's carry-on size limit.)

“You can't have a 'just in case' mentality,” Gohar says. “If something is not absolutely essential, it does not qualify.” Below are some strategies to identify basic needs.

  • “Look for clothing with viscose or Lyocell blends, or silk and wool; those fabrics are more wrinkle-resistant than most,” advises Palepu. She prioritizes “pants that can be worn multiple times before they become unattractive, printed shirt dresses (prints help hide wrinkles), and matching sets that can be mixed and matched with other clothes.” But the real workhorses of hers are Uniqlo's men's button-down shirts that don't need ironing: They rarely wrinkle and match a wide range of outfits.

  • Suits are also a great option because of their versatility. “They can be dressed with heels for a night out or with a tank top and sneakers during the day,” says London-based creative director Alex Eagle, 40. The gallery owner Mariane Ibrahim, who lives between Mexico City and Paris. and Chicago, she has a similar philosophy: “My bag always includes an evening suit and a day suit, plus a few black and white basics (jeans, T-shirts).”

  • For Gohar, the key is creating an adaptable uniform. “If you have a solid basic look, you can bring a coat, one or two pairs of pants, and just change your shirt daily,” she says. “And I'm not afraid to wash my clothes, or my child, in the hotel bathroom. “I just ask the housekeeper for some unscented soap and then I hang them to dry.”

It's easier to buy travel sizes of your favorite products and refill them with larger bottles at home, which eliminates excessive waste, says Palepu (alternatively, small empty containers can be found at stores like Muji). He also suggests streamlining by looking for multi-use products: “My EltaMD Tinted Sunscreen is hydrating enough to be my daytime moisturizer; I use my Le Prunier oil as a hydrating serum and finishing oil and to style loose hair back.”

Palepu likes to pack a simple crossbody bag with the items you'll need between takeoff and landing (lip balm, disinfectant wipes, an e-reader), bringing it on board into a larger bag and then keeping it on her lap once she is seated. Hotelier Philomena Schurer-Merckoll, 40, who divides her time between Marrakech and London, recommends the Perriand Weekend bag from British brand Métier instead of a clutch; Its hidden exterior pockets make it easy to access things on the plane, she says, and “the clip-on clutch means I have an overnight bag for my trip.” And fashion designer Phillip Lim, 51, recommends carrying an Airfly Bluetooth transmitter, which allows you to connect wireless headphones to the in-flight entertainment system.

As a general rule, Palepu packs the largest items first to maximize space. She recommends rolling most, but not all, clothes to avoid wrinkles, and always pack this very compact steamer to eliminate the few wrinkles that inevitably occur (she also uses the device to steam her face after flights before applying a mask moisturizing). Here's how she recommends filling a bag, from bottom to top:

  • Start by placing bulky sweaters at the bottom half of your suitcase, with the sleeves and extra fabric flowing to the sides.

  • If you'll need a coat once you arrive, choose a versatile one and wear it on the plane. If you really need another layer of clothing, make it thin and pack it with your bulky sweaters.

  • Fold the suit pants lengthwise to preserve the crease, then roll them up. To pack suit jackets, Palepu recommends this method, which involves folding the garment into a square along the seams. Layer these pieces on top of your sweaters.

  • Roll up any other pants, as well as skirts, dresses, pajamas, and sportswear, and pack them next.

  • Fold shirts and blouses along the seams to reduce wrinkles and place them on top of the rolled pieces.

  • Place underwear and socks in the remaining spaces.

  • Once all your clothes are in your case, fold the sleeves of the sweater over the top of your other clothes.

  • In the other half of your bag, place your shoes, stored in shoe bags, around the perimeter. (To save space, wear the bulkiest pair you plan to take on the flight.)

  • Pack any other accessories and your toiletries in the center of your shoes.

Packing cubes, which are zippered bags designed to compress clothing and save space, are especially useful for multi-stop trips, providing a more seamless way to quickly pack and unpack. Bradley likes the ones made by Bagsmart and also reuses the dust bags that come with some of his accessories. “I put underwear, shoes and shirts in one and pants in another,” he says. Packing cubes are also especially useful for young families, Palepu says: Each of his children has a set of his favorite color, so their clothes are easily distinguished if they share a suitcase. Joeonna Bellardo-Samuels, 44, a Senior director of New York's Jack Shainman Gallery, she says one of her secret pleasures is “getting good hotel laundry bags” to use instead of buckets. “Each one is adorned with a beautiful monogram that reminds me of my adventures.”

If you're going on a shopping-focused trip, Palepu suggests packing a foldable duffel bag in your carry-on that you can fill and then check in for your return flight or send home on the way to the airport. “Dirty clothes are the best padding for packing fragile items,” he says. Likewise, Eagle packs an LL Bean Boat & Tote for the return trip, which includes gifts and her kids' dirty clothes (packing it separately means it's easier to throw in the laundry once you're home). “The zipper at the top makes it secure,” he says. “So you can check it out, if you really need to.”

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