There are dozens of experts to tell you where to travel, when to go and how to get there. In contrast, there are very few, if anyone, to help you pack. Hitha Paiepu, the blogger behind Hitha on the Go and actor of the new book How to Pack is an expert.
Personally, I’m always negotiating for an extra piece of luggage. One time, I was instructed by a business partner that I could only take a carry-on for a four day trip to you Europe. (Imagine the horror!) I ended up wearing thigh-high Givenchy platform boots almost everywhere we went because they wouldn’t fit in my bag. The thigh-high boots were worn on the plane, on the train that connects Rome to Florence and I was quite the laugh wearing the boots while running through Heathrow Airport when our connecting flight arrived late.
You get the picture. It’s hard for a fashion lover to pack sensibly. For that reason, we sought out the advice of a legitimate expert.
In Hitha’s new book, How to Pack, she breaks down everything a traveler needs to know in order to be comfortable, confident and fashionable. The former globetrotting pharma exec has logged more than a million flight miles and offers tons of helpful guides. She serves up full packing lists including, what to pack for a holiday weekend, what to bring in a carry-on and offers inside tips like applying dry shampoo before a long trip to conquer oily hair.
We tracked down the famed Hitha on the Go travel publisher and author asked a few questions of our own. Enjoy!
I love the hacks that you offer in your book; like using a contact case to store face creams. What are some of your personal favorite travel hacks?
Thank you so much! Rubbing a dryer sheet on an item of clothing to remove odor is one of my favorite (and most used tips). I’ve gotten cigar smoke (thanks, Vegas!) out of a blazer with that trick. Another favorite hack is to steam my face after I’ve steamed my clothes post-flight, and then do a collagen sheet mask. It leaves my skin fully cleansed and rehydrated – and ready to take on whatever my trip has in store for me!
I find that most travelers develop a good relationship with flying. What are some of your in-flight rituals? What are some items you always carry-on?
I’m one of those odd people who loves the journey – even the airport and the flight. If I can, I’ll try to give myself time to unwind in the Delta Sky Club (thanks to my American Express card) and unwind with a snack and a glass of wine, if it’s the evening. When I board the plane, I always wipe down the arm rests, window shade, tray table, and seat belt buckle with a sanitizing wipe. I then wrap myself in my cashmere travel blanket, pop in my headphones to play a soothing playlist, and read one of the many books I’ve downloaded on my Kindle. I drink at least 1 large bottle of Fiji water (1 bottle = 3 hours), and will slip on a silk eyemask if I get sleepy.
In How to Pack, you talk about the three types of packers (the anxious overpacker, the forever forgetful, the jumbled traveler and the impractical dreamer). I think many Mad-Spy readers fall into the two categories–nervous overpacker and tend to pack too much or the impractical dreamer-type, who buys a new untested wardrobe before a trip. Fashion lovers do often want to dress up—especially when traveling. How can someone balance packing efficiency with the desire to have a (new) handbag for each outfit?
It all comes down to Power Pieces – those staples in your wardrobe that make you feel and look your best. When I pack, most of the items that make my suitcase are these items – the skinny pants that make my legs look great, the cashmere sweater that feels like I’m wearing a cloud, the driving loafers that are both chic and can be walked in for miles. I do give myself more leeway with accessories, espeically scarves and jewelry. They take up such little room and can completely transform an outfit. I also will pack 3 different lipsticks – a nude and two different bold colors. I’ve found that switching shoes or changing my lipstick satisfies the need to wear something different.
Is there ever a time when all packing rules go out the window and you allow yourself to roll out the steamer trunks?
Indian weddings are my exception! You need a different outfit (complete with jewelry and eye makeup!) for every event. When there’s five or six events during a single wedding, it means it’s time to pack the big suitcases 🙂
It can be embarrassing to have your co-workers all waiting for your luggage to come off the conveyor belt when everyone has only taken a carry-on. I think you offer great advice by suggesting that business travelers coordinate before heading out.
Are there any other packing logistics that should be hashed out before a big corporate roadshow?
I recommend shipping any supplies (booth signs and supplies) in advance will let you travel lighter – literally and figuratively! Plan for your items to arrive at the hotel 48 hours before you need them, to give you time to correct any issues that may come up. Purchasing as many things on site is also helpful – just create a spreadsheet with all the tasks required before, during, and after a trade show and assign them accordingly. There should be a single project manager who’s an expert at troubleshooting problems as they arise – and they will arise. And if someone does have to wait at the baggage claim, another team member (or two) should go pick up the rental car to save time.