I packed a two-week working vacation in South Africa into one suitcase.
There are many lessons I’ve learned from my friend, travel blogger, Natalie Suite, who shares her weekly globe-hopping adventures with the underlying message that travel is the perfect catalyst for happiness. In addition to the joy factor, Natalie blog posts always remind me that travel is the best school there is because going to unfamiliar places is an amazing way to learn about yourself and others too.
This brings me to a confession. I used to be an over packer. The kind of woman who’d put EVERYTHING into 3 suitcases for a one-week trip and would pay overweight fees because well, you can’t come home without gifts can you? That changed over the past few years, there is the TSA to thank for that, the much stricter baggage controls but the real kudos goes to Natalie, who by example, taught me how to pack and organise for a trip like a real pro.
And the proof? This time, it’s sitting in the corner of my living room, one suitcase already packed for my two-week trip to South Africa. I know what you’re thinking. “How on earth did you get everything to fit?” I did it in 8 steps using a minimalist approach that did not compromise my maximalist style or the fact that I’ll also be creating content for our new Forward Forty website and blog.
For South Africa, I gave some real thought to my destination, Cape Town, where I’d be hiking, visiting wine country, the city, the townships as well as doing work for Forward Forty TV and other sections of the blog. So this time, I decided to think in terms of outfits as opposed to singular items. That way I could imagine the multiple ways I could mix and match each outfit. Yes, yes, this requires pre-planning, but the effort was worth it.
ROLL DON’T FOLD
Learning to roll my clothes has given my suitcase twice as much space. Designer Meiling showed me how to vacuum pack my favourite outfits by wrapping them in plastic and then pressing down on them until all the air is removed. That allowed me plenty of room in my luggage after I folded and tucked each vacuum pack. It sounds complicated but actually, it’s really simple, and you can see the result in the video above.
EDIT THE SHOES
For Cape Town, I had to be brutal with my choices. The truth is how many shoes do you really need to pack for a working vacation? Maybe I shouldn’t ask because I once carried 10. My count for Cape Town though is four: one pair of high heels that can go with anything from my va-va-voom khaki Meiling dress to my colourful, African inspired jumpsuit; a stacked low heel for days when flats are inappropriate but high heels feel uncomfortable; a pair of sneakers for my early morning run and some nude flats. As for bags, I packed just two: a tote bag for daytime and one evening clutch. My cross-body bag that I use to carry my passport and plane essentials will also double as a casual bag during my site-seeing.
ZIPLOC IS YOUR BFFL
I learned to maximize my use of Ziploc bags when packing. In the past, I used these plastic lifesavers to store my phones, chargers, adaptors and headphones. But on this trip, I learned that they can come in quite handy when packing lingerie, underwear and all the things you don’t necessarily want customs agents to see, much less touch, gloves et al.
LEGGINGS VS. JEANS
I prefer leggings. They are more flattering on my body but also way easier and lighter to roll and pack.
EASY ON THE JEWELLERY
This is where I went my most minimalist and packed pieces that can go from day to evening like my favourite hoop earrings, my signature cuffs and ring. Cape Town is apparently a casual city and the nighttime scene can get pretty fun and vibrant. I thought it best to keep it simple and pack just the essentials.
THROW IN A PARTY DRESS
For Cape Town, I packed one, a safari dress.
STOCK UP ON MEDS
This is often overlooked but so important. I packed headache pills, Vicks (I’m from the Caribbean, no explanation needed) and a sore throat spritzer. I am also taking my Chakra spray by Aveda, which immediately relaxes me and will help me sleep easier during my first two evenings in Cape Town.
MAKE A LIST
The best tip I observed from Natalie is to never underestimate the power of making a list. According to her, making a list is a fail-safe way to ensure that I’d never, ever forget to bring something important.
For Cape Town, I started my packing process early to allow myself enough time to assess the items I needed. With close to 64 hours flying time both ways, everything I did for this trip was all about lightening my load and not compromising on style.
Wow, as the COMMODORES sang “EASY AS SUNDAY MORNING”