Packing Tip

Speaking of travel, what are the things you always bring on trips? (I always take these facial wipes.) Yesterday Caroline surprised me when she told me her top item…

Says Caroline: “To me, there’s nothing worse than arriving with perfectly curated luggage just to find out that everything is wrinkled. What’s the point of bringing all the right clothes if you’re going to spend the entire trip looking like you just crawled out of a sleeping bag? That’s why I always pack…

A mini clothes steamer. I’ve taken it everywhere from Rome to L.A. to a cabin upstate. It’s lightweight, much easier than ironing, and—best of all—I always feel put-together on vacation.”

Good idea, right? I never would have thought of that. What do you always bring on trips?

P.S. A honeymoon packing tip, and how NOT to look like a tourist.

(Photo by The Sartorialist)

  1. Jenny Tate says...

    I’m in the market for a clothes steamer and remembered this post. The link doesn’t work anymore. Could you please share what brand it is? Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for your note! that one is sold out but we have this steamer in the office and love it:

  2. This post is from 2014 and this is the first time I heard about “A mini clothes steamer” T.T Thank you for sharing. I’ve never packed my favorite shirt because of those wrinkles.

  3. Another good thing to bring on trips is pepto bismol. often when traveling we are quick to try new foods but you never know how your body will react. Better safe than sorry!

  4. Gigi says...

    I had been thinking about buying some packing cubes for a few months now. I have an upcoming trip to Europe. After reading 4 people who swear by them on this feed, I finally bit the bullet and bought the packing cubes! (3 for me and 3 for my hubby.)

    I have the mini steamer and we use it occasionally at home. I’m not sure that I would pack it though, that is a pair of shoes in terms of valuable suitcase real estate! (I like my shoes and so does the hubby.)

  5. I also bring my handheld steamer everywhere I go and I can relate how frustrating it is to see all clothes wrinkled after neatly folding them! Thank God for handheld steamers and hey, these looked really nice!

  6. I stock pile the disposable laundry bags that nicer hotels provide in their rooms. I always keep 1 clean one in my suitcase so that when I travel, if I am roughing it, I have the laundry bag to keep my dirty clothes.

    I also recently started packing a travel size power strip. So nice to not have to go searching for multiple outlets to charge my electronics.

  7. my moleskine(s) and a few pens + markers. though micron pens dont do well in high altitudes. i draw people anytime, even when stuck on BART :)
    also not a huge fan of germy gel (sanitizer) but found a tiny-sized EO lavender spray which is thin like a gloss lipstick, zen anywhere.

  8. Little steamer rules! A much ni must-have for travelling. I thought it was weird when my mom got me one, but turns out mom knows best.

  9. I always travel with a spray bottle. Hang clothes, give them a good spray and the wrinkles fall out. We do this at home, too, for the clothes that come out of the dryer. I detest ironing!

    • This is a brilliant idea, Sandra!

  10. I always take a toque (wool hat) and a swimsuit. Just in case. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing ;)

  11. I make sure to pack my necessities in my carry-on (like my face creams, a couple of pairs of underwear, and at least one extra shirt!). I was once stranded for three days because my flight was canceled unexpectedly and our luggage went to a different city. A clusterf*ck all around. I was soooo happy I am paranoid and packed those items or it would have been a lot worse. Airport hotels are not fun. I was eventually reunited with my lost luggage lol.

  12. I love the 2-in1 lip cheek stick, great idea. Packing cubes are a must. I probably spend the most time preparing my travel-sized toiletries. I recommend 1oz camping type travel bottles. I believe Nalgene makes some. Just to ensure no leakage, I use plumbers thread tape. I break off a small piece, wrap it around the threads of mouth of the bottle and then screw on the cap. This thin tape seals any gaps between threads. And you only have to apply it once. I also swear by Cottonele travel sized wipes (for face etc.) although I think I’m converted to the cucumber wipes. Plenty of clean undies. Sample size perfumes.
    Thanks for the tips! xo Sacha

  13. What!!! This is BRILLIANT! Adding this to the top of my Christmas wish list. :) THANK YOU!

  14. lay out a clothing item (ironed if necessary)on a dry cleaning plastic bag and alternate another clothing item, then dry cleaning bag, then clothing item, etc. then roll all into a large tube shape and pack. when you arrive at your destination, roll the tube out and lay flat or hang up – you wont need to iron again! :)

  15. I had no idea so many people packed steam irons on trips! It is unheard of here in Malaysia (or Asia in general). I have learned to pack light and pack well over the years, as I travel at least once or twice a month. Most of my clothing are wrinkle-free, or if they are not, the hotel always has an ironing board. Can’t afford to pack a bulky item to use for a few articles of clothing. Besides the essentials, things I always bring along include:

    1) Swiss Army knife
    2) wet wipes
    3) extra set of contact lenses (coz those suckers can tear)
    4) reusable water bottle
    5) soft shopper/carry-on bag for extras (can be folded and easily packed into check-in luggage if not used)

  16. Hi Jo,
    Just wanted to send a big thank you, following up from your beauty uniform. I ordered the Tarte Foundation (not avail in Australia), and the best pink lipstick (modelled by Gaby on another post), and a few other items, and I AM SO SO IMPRESSED/THRILLED. You had me when you said your friend Abby came over looking glowing…. this is the happiest I have ever been with a makekup…. thanks so so much.
    lynnie gill (South Australia)

  17. I always fill a little plastic jar with coconut oil. I use it as make-up remover, face wash/moisturizer, body lotion, hair product, hand cream, everything! I freeze it before I pack it, so it stays solid during my trip.

    • Verona says...

      Great advice, thanks!

  18. On my last few trips I’ve packed a tiny spray bottle that came with a mushroom-growing kit. It’s not much bigger than a lipstick. I fill it with warm water when I arrive and spritz any wrinkles as I hang up each day’s outfit before heading to bed the night before. Works like a dream for this minimalist packer.

  19. That mini clothes steamer is such a good idea! I travel a lot (a LOT) and when I fly I always pack a comfy pair of socks and a jumper because I always get so cold on flights! And I always bring a spare camera. And I always end up needing it!
    Alex – Blog

  20. That mini steamer is so cute but if you already know what you are going to wear before you shower, just bring the clothes into the bathroom with you, hang them, get the room steamy and the wrinkles will drop. The clothes will be a tad damp but by the time you are done with hair and makeup you should be good to go.

    Oh and I LOVE Say Yes to Cucumber wipes!

  21. I can’t imagine carrying something that bulky… I already try to get small toiletry bottles so I have just enough of things. I am paranoid about losing luggage so I try to always pack in just my smallish backpack. I do bring a ‘dirty clothes’ bag though to avoid ‘contamination’! Something I ordered online came in a drawstring canvas bag so I just use that and it’s perfect (and smells nice for some reason).

  22. Those mini steamers are cute, but I’d much rather pack an extra pair of shoes instead. I roll my clothes which prevents most problems and if anything gets wrinkled, I either hang the item in the bathroom with the shower on HOT or use the hotel-provided iron as a steamer.

  23. I have one of these too and it is the best thing ever!!! I hate ironing and this is so easy to pack. Totally worth the suitcase space

  24. I feel like this is definitely one of those purchases where once you get one you can not imagine life before it. On my wishlist!

    rae of love from berlin

  25. My dad is a geography prof and I’ve spent my LIFE traveling/carrying my own crap. I will never forget our first summer vacation to Europe. And my THREE suitcases. The horror. Since then? Long(ish) trips = cheap underwear, tees and tanks that I ditch as I go. Glorious.

  26. Lu says...

    i don’t want to live without my mini steamer! it makes everything so much easier.

  27. i always travel with a rolling garment bag and just hand my clothes up immediately upon arrival, and voila! for items that tend to hold wrinkle, as mentioned by others, i just hang them in the bathroom while i shower, and it usually does trick! i also pack ziploc bags (for anything that can spill or is wet), and some bubble wrap and tape (i always bring a bottle or three of wine back home)as far as my handcarry, i always pack: (1) eyemask, ear plugs, and neck pillow); (2) EO lavander hand santizer (the refreshing clean lavander scent helps me deal with stinky recycled cabin air and adds a touch of luxe); (3) clorox wipes (i’m a germaphobe: i never trust the tray tables and arm rests on the plane!); (4) once i pass security, a big bottle of water to stay hydrated; (5) visine and lip ointment; (6)face wipes and moisturizer; (7) hand lotion; (8) essential oils: peppermint and lavander especially; (9) toothbrush + mini toothpaste and mouthwash; and (9) a miniature lint roller. all these little things help make me feel so much better on the flight and ready upon arrival.

  28. I always pack a pair of earplugs. Helps with sleeping on the plane or noisy hotels.

  29. I have the same steamer!I bring this and a small bottle of fabric freshener :)

  30. any tips on what to pack when traveling with little ones? we’re going away in december (to the caribbean, hoorah!) with our then 6 month old and have no idea how to pack.

  31. Oh man! I may have to invest. I use packing cubes (which I highly, highly recommend) but my clothes are always wrinkled and I end up spraying them and hanging or, for more persistent wrinkles, ironing. But it’s a pain! Steaming is a great alternative.

  32. Haha, great idea! I always pop my clothes into the dryer at home to get the wrinkles out.. but that’s not always an option on vacation. Love the mini-steamer idea.

  33. I was just coming to add the tip about paper tissue. :) I haven’t tried it personally but I’ve read lots of packing tips online that say using paper tissue between things prone to wrinkle is a great way to keep them nice.

    With rolling – will it still work for very delicate things, like silk shirts? I keep imagining the entire shirt getting terribly wrinkled.

  34. That’s a really good idea! On our last trip to France my husband had the brilliant idea to hang our clothes in the bathroom while we shower, and the hot steam helped with the wrinkles!

  35. That steamer is great!! Well, since my last rips are always to my family in law home… My MIL is always happy to have our clothes to wash and/or iron- but I would like to have that steamer. I think I’d use it at home instead of the flatiron!
    Oh and I thought it was your lovely friend Gaby on the first picture at a first sight!

  36. It sounds so anal but I fold tissue paper into clothes that have a tendency to get wrinkly. It works SO WELL!

  37. I am ordering a mini steamer ASAP! Hanging in a steamy bathroom only works up to a point!

    I also roll all clothes and pack plastic bags for laundry.

    Another tip is to pack some of my clothes and some of DH’s clothes in each bag…then, if one bag gets lost, we both have something to wear! We do check luggage, especially on long trips. I need options, and his shoes take up SO much room!

  38. Packing cubes! You can find them at REI or Ikea. I have four different cubes (shirts, pants, active/lounge-wear, underwear/socks) and it helps my clothes stay neat within my luggage. It has made traveling for 3 or 4 weeks at a time way more organized. Saves space like crazy too.

  39. I’ve seen these before and always wondered if they were worth it! I hate ironing, so I might have to give this a go…

  40. I’ve owned 4 steamers, from a free-standing super duper to a small portable. This is the best one I’ve ever used (except for the commercial grade, very expensive one we had when I worked at Anthro). Highly recommended and travel sized. Jiffy Esteem. For those in NYC, can be purchased at Steinlauf & Stoller on West 39th Street in the Garment District.

  41. I roll my clothes and not fold so they stay wrinkle free! I have to take my facial wipes and my flat iron. I love that compact steamer though… makes a great xmas gift. Thanks for sharing!

  42. I once heard of a packing tip that I thought was genius: If you travel as a couple or a family, pack half your stuff in your partner’s suitcase and tell him to pack half of his in yours. This way, if one of the suitcases gets lost or arrives late, he or you will always have stuff to wear in the meantime.

  43. YES! I need this!!…my husband cringes when we’re staying in a hotel and he hears the creaky ironing board being opened every morning, to the point where its become a joke with us…i HATE being wrinkled.

  44. We’ve been gifted like three travel steamers that never seem to really work or keep wrinkles out. Maybe Caroline’s is just a better model?

  45. perfect present for my boyfriend who always stresses about whether or not the place we’re staying has an iron–thank you!

  46. I’m a very very light packer… I always think I can buy as needed.

    I still bring some essentials no matter what : compact flat iron, dirty clothes bag (I can’t stand my clean clothes being mixed up with dirty ones) and my Swiss Knife (very practical to open wine bottles in a park!)

  47. This is so funny, I LOVE for my ‘my little steamer’!! My aunt bought me the large/mini set off of QVC years ago and they are my favorite. Such a life saver when traveling and even getting ready quickly in the morning before work! I’ve recommended them to all of my friends over the years and my fiance (! just got engaged Saturday!) is obsessed with steaming now too which doesn’t hurt :) Great post!

  48. 1. I take a pair of old (last presecription) glasses just in case I lose my current ones, and one of those tiny eyeglass repair kits. 2. Black electrical tape to cover irritating bright little lights on electronics in hotels.

  49. painters tape! so smart! and yes to clean underwear. i also pack a spare pillowcase to put all our dirty laundry into. it’s so easy to mix up clean and dirty clothes in a suitcase!

  50. I need to get one of those steamers, ASAP. I always pack facial wipes, hand sanitizer, and 1000 tubes of chap stick.

  51. painter’s tape. i use it to wrap around the tops of my bottles like lotions, shampoos and contact solutions. since i’ve been doing this nothing has leaked.

  52. I take spray wrinkle remover. But put it in a zip-loc bag just in case it leaks….;-)

  53. If you are staying in a hotel, just hang everything up on the shower rod, turn the shower on hot, and leave it for ten minutes. That’s what I do on business trips. I never check luggage so space is at a premium.

    I also have colleagues that swear by ironing at home and then rolling to pack.

    • Annie says...

      NEVER do I pack appliances for a trip to Europe! Hair-dryers and flatirons take up too much space in my bag and require converters, so I make sure to have a great hairstyle that’s low maintenance. Clothes steamers—even little ones—have the same problem. I just use the steam in the shower! It works perfectly every time. I went to France for 3 weeks, getting on the plane with only a carry-on case and a large tote as my personal item. With careful planning, I had nice clothes for dinner in Paris as well as clothes for hiking and touring (for example, a lovely cashmere sweater that could be used for the nicest restaurant or a layer for hiking in the Alps).

  54. carry on – usually burts bees towelettes.

    in suitcase: underwear. i usually go overboard… no matter how dirty my clothes are, at least i have clean undies.

    is that weird?

  55. julia, me too! i only knew about the enormous ones.

  56. @violentfemme, hahahahaha, when we uploaded the photo, we were wondering if anyone would think that!! my friend once had her suitcase searched while going through security and they found her vibrator. talk about an awkward moment.

  57. Before I read the post, I honestly thought that pic was a fancy vibrator! I was like, huh, that’s interesting Caroline. Wow! Where is my mind today?

  58. Just added to xmas list – thanks!

  59. If you roll your clothes instead of folding them, they’ll stay perfect. :)

  60. I had a super fancy one that broke almost immediately. I love mine!

  61. LK says...

    I started packing one too a couple of years ago, but this one looks much better than mine (and more compact)… looks like I have some shopping to do.

  62. yes! i am not alone!