How to Pack | Episode 3 -- 5 Steps to the Perfect Suitcase

I spent last weekend in Atlanta celebrating my future sister-in-law with a handful of bridesmaid and friends. This trip inspired a departure from my typical “how to pack” post, because to be honest, if you’re not wearing sky high heels and neon crop top on your next trip, what I wore probably won’t be much help.

This week I’m taking a different route.

Here’s how to confidently pack a suitcase no matter where you’re headed, what you’re doing or who you’re going with.

Get ready to jet set in style.



I love this part of process because it takes away the mechanical feel of packing and replaces it with creative flow. Packing is about deciding how you want to feel when you arrive at your destination, and to do that, you need to get into the mood of your trip.

A) Put it into words.

When you’re able to put words to feelings, progress is always made.

Take a sheet of paper and write the name of where you’re headed horizontally in the middle.

My words for last weekend's trip!

My words for last weekend's trip!

Next, define the place you’re going. Choose three words to describe where you’re headed. Write them on the left side of the city, vertically stacked.

For me, Atlanta was: energetic, hot, busy.

Then, choose 3 words that describe how you want to feel in your clothes.

I chose sexy, fun, confident.  Write them on the right side of the city name, vertically stacked.

B) Put on a playlist.

During the 15-30 minutes you’ll be assembling your bag, you gotta have tunes. Pop on whatever feels right for where you’re headed.

My favorite hip hip artists of all time, Outkast, are from Atlanta, so that was an easy choice for last weekend’s pack. (If you don’t know Aquemini, I highly recommend giving it a listen.)

Next month I’m headed to a town I used to visit with my mom as a child. She’d always play Van Morrison on this trip, so that’s what I’ll be turning on.

If your destination is new, choose music based on the words you chose to describe your city. If it’s a spot you’ve visited before, think about what music you heard last time you were there.

C) Put it on ice.

This isn’t as essential as the other parts of the prep, but let’s face it…a cocktail is the perfect way to get you in the mood for vacation. Match what you’re drinking to wear you’re headed. A trip to Napa deserves a glass of wine, a margarita is perfect for Mexico, an IPA encompasses that Pacific Northwest vibe. It’s a sweet indulgence to celebrate your style.

For my trip to Atlanta, I went with rosé, because the bride-to-be is a big fan of the pink drink (who can blame her).


You’ve got your words, you’ve got your music, you’ve got your drink. Now for a little self pep talk.

Even if you’re going to be in a group setting on the trip, this is not the time to think about what anyone else is wearing. There is one person and one person only that this suitcase is about, and that’s your self.

Go with what you want to wear.

Wearing something to fit in with everyone else will ultimately make you feel bored, look boring and snuff out your self-expression.  And style is all about self-expression. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but to fit in, you need to stand out. Being yourself through your style helps people accept you and understand that you are genuine, authentic and a person worth knowing.

3. Do the dirty work.

It’s time to style your outfits. And yes, I say style, because that’s exactly what you’ll do now and exactly what you do every day in your closet.

Grab your sheet of paper with the city + 6 words on it. Think of the first occasion you need to dress for on the trip then create an outfit for that occasion (i.e. on the airplane, dinner, beach day.)

Now look back at your sheet. Does the outfit you choose match the words on the left? Does it make you feel the things on the right?

If yes, hooray! Throw the outfit in the suitcase. If the answer is no, what didn’t match? Why? In determining your "why", consider what would work, and swap the initial outfit or piece of the outfit for something new. 

Follow this formula for each look you’ll need for the trip.

Finding the right outfits for the right occasion is a tough task, so if you feel confused or can't find a clear answer, I would love to help! My work is about celebrating women. Through a combination of teaching, styling and coaching, I help you feel powerful and put together in each of your outfits every single day. 

In Atlanta celebrating with the maid of honor (left) and the bride-to-be (center).

In Atlanta celebrating with the maid of honor (left) and the bride-to-be (center).


How to Pack for a 3-Day Vacation

Summer is all about vacation.

Often the excitement of a trip is thwarted though before it even begins, just from the thought of packing. Loading a bag full of wardrobe decisions I won’t be able to take back can be a nightmare! If you’re anything like me, you wait until super late the night before to get started, hoping that a stroke of stylish genius will occur.

Tired of starting my vaca this way, I called Raquel and got the scoop on how to pack for my 3-day trip to Nashville. She suggested I pack light basics (I tend to over pack like most people), and choose versatile accessories that can be used for multiple outfits.

1 necklace for 2 very different outfits! 

1 necklace for 2 very different outfits! 

My husband and I used to live in Nashville so this trip revolved around seeing what all had changed, trying as many new restaurants as we could, and seeing old friends. Here’s the rundown: 2 dinners, exploring the city, Jeni’s Ice Cream excursions, and Sunday brunch.

Planning how to pack for all of those excursions, while still factoring in hot weather, was less of a challenge when I factored in Raquel’s quick tips. I reimagined my outfits by playing with accessories. This kept each look fresh. For example, my chambray dress, worn with flats in the daytime, was perfectly light and airy for ice cream stops and shopping in Hillsboro Village. To take it to a trendy restaurant in Germantown that night, I lost the bright necklace, added some wedges, and felt completely chic.

Easy to roll into a suitcase & wrinkle free!

Easy to roll into a suitcase & wrinkle free!

I can’t over-emphasize that we should all work on packing realistically. Will I really wear 5 different pairs of shoes on a 3-day trip? Answer: no.  I was able to narrow it down to 3 – my converse, a pair of comfy flats, and my wedges. The Converses I wore with my favorite grey dress. The cut outs in the dress kept me cool and on point.

Ladies, it’s time to get on board with wearing, and re-wearing, the basics. It’s all in how you accessorize them. I have been really into high waisted pants & shorts lately, so I brought a pair of each. These bottoms can go with almost any top in your closet: crop tops, tucked in blouses, or longer tops that you tie in a knot.

I paired my light pink zip up shorts with a bold, geometric crop top and my flats because this outfit allowed me to feel both perfectly chic and comfortable for a dinner at Butcher & Bee.

Saturday before we left, we had brunch at Barista Parlor coffee shop where I had the most delicious Salty Tennessee Whiskey Caramel Latte.  I’m telling you, this place has gotten trendy, so I had to bring my A-game. Enter:  the high waisted bell bottoms. I tied a knot in my top and added my favorite coral necklace – again! I wore that necklace 3 times, meaning it was the only necklace I had to pack. Win!

I love how light weight and structured these pants are – I didn’t get hot once!

I love how light weight and structured these pants are – I didn’t get hot once!

I guarantee that, had I gone through this packing ordeal alone, I would’ve needed a larger suitcase for my 3-day trip to Nashville. By relying on basics and utilizing accessories, I didn’t have a single extra piece. I also never felt like my outfit was missing something.

Want help packing for your next trip?

Emily Blanco is a freelance writer based in San Antonio, TX. She has studied creative writing, journalism, and has a degree in English Lit. She loves to blend snarky observations with helpful truths, encouraging people to love reading again! When she isn't being a complete book junkie, she loves to travel with her husband and pup, as well as explore local hidden gems. 

Emily Blanco


5 Essential Pieces for Your Winter Vacation

I have to admit, it has taken me a long time to figure out exactly how to pack the perfect suitcase. Everything I could need ends up in my luggage, but somehow I don't manage to wear everything that snuck in there. 

That's because on vacation, when everything is supposed to be easy, I so often wear the same outfit twice. I know, it seems like I should be ashamed. When I'm packing, I have the best of intentions. I imagine myself sipping cocktails on a beach in a full length dress and heels...though in actuality, I am still sipping cocktails, but it's in the most comfortable dress I own. You know what? That's OK. Vacation is about kicking back, relaxing. In reality, style should reflect your state of mind. When I remember that, I realize it's OK to (in this instance) wear the same thing twice.

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't still look good while you relax. Being comfortable and looking good while you do it will make you more excited about your vacation. Whether you are at the beach or on the ski slopes, here are five versatile pieces with looks built around them that I would recommend bringing. 

Heading to the Slopes?          Heading to the Sand? 

Now I would love to know! Which travel essential sneaks into your suitcase the most? Make sure to comment below how you incorporated some of these essentials on your next winter vacation!