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A couple of weeks ago, I traveled from NYC to Northern California for my best friend’s wedding. I was all packed and ready to go (or so I thought) for my trip, which had two legs—4 days in wine country for the wedding, followed by a week in San Francisco for pleasure and work. But as soon as I arrived to the West Coast and started unpacking my clothes, I realized what a poor job I had done packing and preparing. Upon reflection, these were the four basic mistakes I had made:


I packed without a list

Creating a list will help you organize your thoughts and prevent you from under- or over-packing. Start with how many days you’ll be gone, then work backwards, considering the type and amount of attire you’ll need. For example: If you know you have one formal and three business dinners, pack for your big events first, then figure out how many pairs of socks and underwear you’ll need and match them to the days’ outfits. If you plan on exercising while you’re gone (good for you), decide how many days ahead of time. Additionally, always bring a backup of each smaller item—i.e., if you know you’re going to be somewhere for 5 nights, pack 6 pairs of underwear and socks. But when it comes to bigger items, get in the habit of subtracting one once you’re done packing—do you really need 4 different pairs of jeans? Chances are, you’ll wear the same one over and over.


I packed assuming

Don’t act like you’re the National Weather Service and are able to predict the climate and weather of your destination. For my Cali trip, I packed like I would for late spring/early summer in the Northeast—I was fine during the day in wine country, but ended up being freezing at night, and there was nothing I could do about it. For the San Francisco leg, I packed as if I was heading to Los Angeles—needless to say, my shorts, T-shirts, and lack of jacket were less than ideal for San Fran’s climate, which I learned to be typically in the 60’s, windy, and foggy. Instead of assuming (the first 3 letters of the word are “ASS” for a reason), do your research online, and scope out what Mother Nature and other travelers are predicting.


I packed the night before

I made the rookie mistake of haphazardly throwing things into a suitcase the night before my trip when I was tired and not in the mood to be traveling. As a result, no love or thought went into my packing, and it certainly showed when I looked like a douche trying to figure out what the fuck to wear half the time. Don’t leave your packing until the last minute, especially if you’re a guy who takes pleasure in feeling and looking good. Start at least a day early, packing a different compartment or item every so often.


I packed…but didn’t unpack

Unless you’re only staying somewhere one night, take time to unpack some of your key articles of clothing when you arrive at your hotel or destination (e.g., hang up your suit, separate the shirts you are going to be wearing, lighten up your suitcase so it doesn’t look like you’ve been traveling with two fighting gerbils.) Don’t be afraid of unpacking and repacking during travel—it helps keep you organized and gives you a sense of inventory on what you have, what’s clean, what needs to be laundered; if you are continuing on to another city, it also allows you to re-prepare for the next part of your trip.

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