life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Do you constantly add more clothes to your already full suitcase when you travel? Do you add an extra pair of jeans because you fear that one pair just might get soiled while on the plane? Do you bring three pairs of shoes when two will do?

When my friend Elizabeth, from Styling By Elizabeth, roomed with me during the 2013 BlogHer conference this past summer, I was so impressed with how she fit her clothes, shoes, accessories and toiletries into her 21-inch Samsonite carry-on suitcase, that I asked her to teach me some tricks.

No more extra large suitcases for me. No. No. No. I am determined to travel with less and literally not “break my back” like the last time and wind up with muscles in need of physical repair.

I went out and bought a 21-inch Samsonite suitcase for under $100 and asked Elizabeth to stop by last week and teach me how to pack for my upcoming trip to the Type-A Parenting Conference in Atlanta.

Elizabeth is a master packer and I am pleased to share some of her tips:

packing a suitcase, life after 50, over 50, boomer travel, baby boomers

Elizabeth packed tissue paper between my garments and kept outfits together.

First, recycle plastic bags and tissue paper from any shopping spree. You’ll need these items for better packing. “Bags like those from Talbots, The Limited and Gap are best,” said Elizabeth, “Only use white tissue paper as colored paper can run onto clothing if it gets wet.” (Now that you’ll be recycling, doesn’t this make you feel better about going shopping?)

Select the outfits you’ll need for your trip. If it is a conference, look at the activities. If it is a vacation, determine what you’ll be doing each day. “Plan down to the detail,” said Elizabeth. “It’s all about the outfits. Mix and match different pieces as much as possible and use accessories to change things up.” (Regarding outfits, Elizabeth went through my closet and picked out a combination of clothes in colors and styles that worked well together. She limited the number of pants to three – including the one I will be wearing – for a long weekend and selected tops that I could layer based on the weather. She suggested I wear my leather moto jacket  on the plane with a tee underneath. This way, I can stay warm in the air and take the jacket off when I arrive in sunny Atlanta – plus a leather jacket is much too heavy to pack.)

Samsonite suitcase, packing a suitcase, life after 50, over 50, baby boomer travel,

Shoes can be packed between the bars at the bottom of the suitcase to save space.

Put your shoes at the bottom of your suitcase in-between the handle bars. Cover shoes in plastic bags if you prefer they not touch your clothes. No more empty space going to waste!

Fold your outfits together with tissue paper in-between each item. Make sure the tissue paper completely covers the item. For example, Elizabeth packed my sleeveless dress with my oblong scarf. She suggested I wear earrings and a bracelet – no necklace and use my leather jacket as a coverup if I get cold in the hotel or outside during the evening.

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Pack your folded outfits in plastic bags and sit on the bag to squeeze out excess air.

– Next, put each complete folded outfit into a plastic bag. Or if you have a larger, rectangular bag, put multiple outfits into the bag and layer them across the suitcase. If needed, sit on the bag to squeeze out all the excess air before placing it into the suitcase.

– Put your accessories and toiletries in large ziplock bags. “You don’t need fancy makeup cases,” said Elizabeth. “They take up too much room. WIth clear plastic bags you can see all your makeup and toiletries more easily and they are malleable.” She showed me how easily the plastic bags fit into one of the side compartments, leaving another compartment for my lingerie.

We were almost done packing and my suitcase still had breathing room. “That’s good,” said Elizabeth. “You should always leave a little room for any shopping you may do when you are traveling.” (Or perhaps for swag that I usually pick up at blogger conferences.)

Wow-o-wow! What an amazing and quick way to pack for a trip. “You truly are a packing magician,” I said to Elizabeth.

“Your clothes are tiny, so they don’t take up much room in the suitcase. You’re lucky that you are a petite woman,” said Elizabeth. “However, we’ll have to talk about your closet which is still filled with too much corporate attire. You need some new clothes for your  more casual lifestyle.”

Wow-o-wow – I took a peek inside my closet and I realized she was right! I need a new style for the new me. I made a date to go shopping with Elizabeth last Friday. It was fun and fabulous and I’ll tell you all about it in an upcoming post. Can’t tell you now cause I have to go repack my suitcase with all my new outfits.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, maybe I’ll become such a good packer that I’ll become a jet-setter during my life after 50. Speaking of travel – check out – it’s a really cool website.