Nearly a year ago, a former colleague of mine announced on Facebook that she was leaving The Dallas Morning News after many years on the business desk. I couldn’t believe it: Sheryl Jean was saying so long to Texas and moving to California, where she planned to hike, bike and run (she’s something of an expert on the topic) while building on her success as a freelancer. I immediately thought to myself: “THAT’s a gutsy move.” To leave a stable full-time job for the uncertainty of the gig economy takes courage; to do so in a new state takes even more.

I hope we hear more from Sheryl about her big career move, but right now I want to talk about another bold decision she recently made: embarking on an extended trip overseas, where she’s exploring the rugged mountainous terrain of New Zealand. Lucky for us, she’s chronicling her journey on a new blog, which she’s updating from the various motels, hotels and Airbnb homes providing her a few hours’ sleep along the way — when the wifi is working, that is.

If you haven’t noticed already, this is a woman who knows her own mind — and that extends to the practice of packing. She even wrote a blog post about it, which I’m republishing here. Why? Because every gutsy broad needs to know how to pack light enough to handle her own luggage, but not so light that she’s left in a strange land without the essentials. Read on, and feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

10 tips to pack smarter

By Sheryl Jean


Packing for a trip — whether it’s a weekend getaway or a long visit — is nerve-wracking.

My rolled clothes from the pile at the top of this post.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that save time and space. Fresh from packing for a trip, here are a few tips:

1) Place everything you think you want to take on a flat surface, such as a bed, so you can see it all together. (See photo above.) You’ll see what matches and what doesn’t, and if you have too many items.

2) Mix and match clothing so items can be used interchangeably. You may find you pack fewer items. Pack fast-drying fabrics, such as silk or spandex, which can be washed in a sink.

My dopp kit also has a hook from which it can hang.

3) Think layers, especially if you’re going to be in a place where the temperature will vary widely.

4) Roll your clothes. It seems to take up less space and avoids wrinkles. It’s also easier to see what’s packed. I still tend to put stiffer or dressier items, such as a blazer or blouse, in the flat, zipper compartment. You also can place folded items on top of the rolled items.

5) Put your shoes in separate plastic or cloth bags to protect your other items. I also stuff my shoes with socks or other small items.

6) Invest in a good dopp kit, or travel toiletry bag, which can hang and has different compartments.

7) Downsize your toiletries into mini bottles that you buy or reuse, such as prescription pill bottles. I do that for shampoo, conditioner, pills and vitamins.

Downsize to small, reusable containers.

8) Put anything that may leak and make a mess, such as sunscreen or medicine,  into smaller zip-close bags before packing.

9) If you’re packing a bathing suit, always pack an extra plastic bag for it. You may have to pack it wet on your return flight. I often use the plastic dry cleaning bag most hotels provide.

10) If you plan on buying gifts on your trip , plan to leave room in either your carry-on or checked bag. If that’s not possible, carry a reusable, shopping bag to carry on the plane.

Happy packing!