How To Pack Lightly and Efficiently for Both Family and Work Trips

The saying goes, when traveling with children you are not taking a vacation, you are taking a trip.  The saying also goes that traveling for work by yourself = vacation. As with most sayings, these are mostly accurate.

Lucky or unlucky for me, I travel a decent amount for work.  Decent amount means not as much as a consultant at a Big 3 or someone in Global Services, plus platinum, but just enough to not reach the really good status on American or with SPG.   A forever optimist, I look at my work travel as an opportunity to see friends as well as enjoy a bed with enough room for me to Scrooge McDuck, if I so please.

Packing for a work trip is very different than for a family trip, primarily because I am just packing for me and not for my three children and husband.  Yes, my husband. He has size-fourteen triple-wide feet, is over six feet tall, and cannot figure out how many shirts he will wear in a day. What if it is hot and he sweats? What if it is cold and he needs to layer? What if he needs boat shoes, brown loafers, and flip flops?  Husband’s clothes are also 3x the size of the rest of our clothing, so he will need some cuts after his first-round attempt.

Packing for children is very strategic: all three of mine have to do some initial packing legwork.  This basically involves my kids throwing clothes into laundry baskets so that I, as their indentured servant, can fold and pack them.  Even with this minimal involvement in the actual packing process, there seems to be a never-ending barrage of questions. I find myself answering multiple times that: Yes, you do need underwear and socks.  No, you do not need the plastic jaguar grabber. Or the stuffed animal menagerie living on your bed.

Everyone has their own backpack, and we always have a family go-bag.  This should have at least one item of clothing needed for a day or two in case a checked piece of luggage goes missing.  Also, always pack a bathing suit. One of my best friends from college taught me this rule early on in our friendship. You never know when you are going to need it.

I have tried delegating certain family trip packing tasks to Husband; these responsibilities have ultimately been whittled down to electronics only.  Guess what happened on our last family trip? Said electronics all died in-flight to our destination as a result of his failure to charge before leaving.  His consequence was sitting with all three children unplugged while I read my Vanity Fair.  Living my best life only lasted for five minutes.

But back to business travel.  When I am rolling this into a fun-with-friends work trip, I have used a dear friend and stylist of mine to help me curate outfits that go from day to night.  Her handle is @emilyperlbergstyle, and the amount of time and energy she has saved me is invaluable. My suitcase is packed for me, and I lack the haggard look that comes with taking the first AM flight to New York--followed by meetings and a happy hour--that I would prefer not end up on social media.   

Takeaway from this #ChaoticCommuteContribution: when it’s family, do it yourself; when it’s work to social, do what you do best: delegate and outsource.