How to pack for back-to-back trips

Boarding passes galoreSometimes, the stars mis-align and you have to take two trips right in a row, with 72 hours or less in between. It seems it would almost be easier on a body to stay in a hotel in the interim, to avoid that wrenching “I’m home, I’m traveling, I’m home, I’m traveling” feeling. Still, there are cats and dogs to be snuggled, people who miss you, and some things about the quick turnover can be great: you don’t have to tell anyone you’re back and you can use the time for yourself, and the flip also gives you the opportunity to change out some clothes so you don’t have to check a bag.

As someone with a background in entertainment, which includes out-of-town gigs and touring, I can offer some advice about living in and out of a suitcase efficiently. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to wear your underwear inside-out.

Don’t overpack
While the temptation may be to pack for both trips and be done with it, as I mentioned above, your break can be used as an opportunity to travel lighter. Though you may have a borderline neurotic compulsion to wear something different every day (I do), keep in mind that at your second destination, they haven’t seen the outfits you wore at your first destination. If you’re a woman and there are formal events, two dresses are definitely in order (photos, people), but other than that, try to pack clothes you know you can re-wear. An example of this is a sweater that you normally wear over a t-shirt. When you’re home in between, switch the t-shirt.

Keep dirty clothes separate

Hotels usually have laundry bags. Steal them. Keep your dirty clothes in a laundry bag in your suitcase. The t-shirt above, for example, doesn’t need to get re-worn. When you get home, you’ll have a suitcase of neatly folded clean clothes and a bag (also in the suitcase) of dirty clothes for the hamper. Use a plastic bag when possible; this keeps the dirty clothes from stinking up the clean ones.

Prep your replacement clothesWhen packing, keep in mind what you know you’re only going to wear once and prepare a replacement. That way, when you get home with your laundry bag, you can just dump it and throw your neatly-folded-and-waiting stack of clean replacements in the suitcase. Done. If you pack creatively, and make sure most items match each other, the only thing you really might not have enough of is underwear or socks. The good thing is, you can buy underwear and socks almost anywhere for not too much money. I’ve certainly had to pick up a five-pack here and there on my journeys. It’s healthy, it reminds one that buying new socks and underwear is okay.

Air things out
Nice clothes don’t like being in suitcases. You should give your nicer things as much of a break as you have. Suit jackets, trousers, dresses, and anything cashmere, linen or that will wrinkle should be pulled out of your suitcase immediately and hung. Use wrinkle releaser for good measure. When you arrive at your second destination, hang it all up again, especially anything that’s going to be re-worn.

Don’t settle in
As good as it feels to be home, settling in is a trap. When you’re airing things out, for example, you should hang them in the open, where they can breathe, not in your closet, which will inevitably cause you to forget at least one item. Unless you only have one cell phone charger, keep it in the bag, along with your passport, your travel documents, your camera and anything you don’t absolutely need to unpack. Enjoy being home — the food, the shower, the bed, coffee with a friend, the exact angle of the television from your couch, but keep yourself in the mindset of traveling and stay packed as much as possible. If you unpack that suitcase and put your things away, leaving again will feel like a monumental pain-ridden task. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The short stop home can be a brief relief from that “always on” feeling of traveling, and a soul-replenishing chance to hug the ones you love. If you follow the tips above, it will make your trip easier, and have you looking fresher.