Several years ago I was scheduled to teach a class at a spa just
outside New York City. A van was to pick me and the other weekend
speaker up on a street corner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
While I was waiting, I noticed a lady getting out of a taxi hauling one
of the biggest suitcases I had ever seen. In addition, she had two
large weekender bags. She looked at me standing there with one small
bag and we burst out laughing. “I guess I brought too much,” she said.
It was the start of a great weekend and a long friendship.
March is a great time to start planning your summer getaway. Whether
it\’s a weekend or a multi week vacation, I hope you will consider
planning your wardrobe carefully so that you don\’t wind up hauling a
lot of useless possessions around with you. Vacations are meant to
restore our Souls, not exhaust the body that carries that Soul through
In my first book “The Zen of Organizing,” I came up with the idea of
using a chart to help you decide what you will need. If you have a copy
of “Zen” and want to follow along, you\’ll find that travel information
starts on page 219. My suggestions begin with the actual suitcase you
need. Of course if you have to travel with a lot of formal business
and/or social clothing, you will probably want a large suitcase.
For a casual vacation, however, I would suggest a small suitcase on
wheels that you can keep in the overhead compartment on the plane.
Interestingly enough, my best friend, who is also extremely organized,
disagrees with me on this point. She loves to check her bag and walk
through the airport with just her purse. This makes her feel free.
I on the other hand feel free pulling my little suitcase through the
terminal knowing that at my destination, I can skip baggage claim and
race for a taxi or my rental. The moral here is of course ‘different
strokes for different folks\’ or do what you feel comfortable with!
Remember one of the big tenets of ‘Zen organizing,\’ is your right to
infuse your personal touch or creativity into all the suggestions I
give, no matter what the area under discussion.
OK. Now let\’s move on to the contents of your suitcase. Please get some
paper and a pencil or pen. I would suggest several large pieces of
paper. You might also consider using loose leaf pages and purchasing an
inexpensive 3 ring binder. This can become your official Zen Organizing
Notebook! You can create a tab for Travel Notes.
Across the top of the paper, write out the days of the week you will be
traveling. If you are going to be gone for more than one week, use two
pieces of paper and place them side by side. You are creating calendar
pages. Now put in the location for each day and the planned activities,
if they are known. So, for example, my schedule might look something
• Travel from Los Angeles to New York.
• Transfer to hotel.
• Morning meeting with literary agent followed by lunch.
• Afternoon free to sightsee.
• Dinner with friends.
See how this works?
Now take a new sheet of paper and create a list of all the clothing you
plan to take with you. Once you have this list, go back to the calendar
pages you created for your itinerary. One at a time put in your outfits
on the days you plan to wear them. I would probably indicate a suit for
the meeting with my agent. When I had free time to sightsee, I would no
doubt slip into something more casual like slacks and a top.
For a really casual beach vacation or a week at home with relatives on
the other hand, an ‘outfit\’ could be a pair of jeans and a tee shirt.
After the first day is entered, before you move on, ask yourself who
will have seen you in this outfit? I like to say that your mother, taxi
drivers and hotel employees don\’t count! By that I mean, can you
‘recycle\’ this outfit? If so, how many days can it be worn? Will you be
able to launder it? If you are wearing separates, can they be used in
concert with other pieces to create new outfits?
Sometimes we dress to impress forgetting that fellow tourists, family
members and support staff just don\’t care what we have on! This chart
may initially sound time consuming and difficult; however, it\’s really
easy and simple. I have sample documents on pages 222 and 224 of “Zen
of Organizing,” in case you want to see a finished version.
Finally let me say: never underestimate the power of accessories! I
went to a weekend conference once as a speaker and took only one
business suit. Every day I changed my shoes. One day I wore a fancy
blouse and the next a simple one with an elaborate scarf. The final day
I made jewelry the focus. No one ever realized I was doing magic with
one neutral suit as my basic canvas…not even my room mate!