4 Top Tips From a Fanatic Packer

I confess, I pack with near-military precision, fitting everything into a rolling carry-on bag even for a month-long trip. During my most recent trip — a month in Italy inspecting properties — I moved accommodations every couple of nights because staying in our properties is the best way to inspect.

Packing for a long winter trip takes some careful planning.  Add weather uncertainties and walking several miles a day to get from appointment to appointment, comfortable low-maintenance, interchangeable layers are my mantra. Keeping my suitcase (I swear by Tumi’s Voyageur Super-Leger International Carry-On) as light as possible was paramount since hauling luggage onto trains, airplane overhead bins, taxis, and up and down stairs, gets exhausting with multiple moves .

My 4 Essential Packing Tips

Pack 2

Plastic luggage bags are vented at one end so you can squeeze air out, takes up less space.

  • Keep color palette to a minimum. I favor black, gray, brown with a few colorful accents.
  • All base layers (T-shirts, pants) should be easily washable and quick drying.
  • Bring several each of basics like t-shirts, pants, all in same color.
  • Space Bags Luggage Packs! I have used them for years and bring extras for laundry, jewelry, random stuff to make it easy to pack & unpack. In fact, most of the time I never unpack, I keep everything in the plastic bags and grab what I need from the “shirt bag” or the “pants bag”.

Wardrobe for 4 weeks abroad


Winter travel day outfit, lots of layers. I wear the boots so I don’t have to pack them.

1 pair washable black pants
2 pairs washable black leggings
1 black skirt

Tops & Sweaters
2 black long-sleeved drip-dry t-shirt/tunics
1 black cashmere sweater
1 white no-iron cotton blouse
1 white long sleeved T-shirt
1 black down vest
1 gray cashmere pullover
1 gray long cashmere cardigan
1 brown cashmere V-neck & long vest set
1 beige long wool cardigan


This limited wardrobe got me through the month of February in Italy. I’m now ready to burn these clothes!

2 heavy cashmere scarves
2 lighter weight scarves
4 inexpensive necklaces
2 pairs earrings
Black tights

1 pair black boots
1 pair black super-comfortable walking shoes
1 pair heels

The clothes are squished into my trusty, well worn Space Bags plus one bag with PJ’s, sweatpants, undies, socks, tights.

Now that I’m back I have happily retired those clothes for awhile.

Happy Packing and Warm Regards,


17 Responses to “4 Top Tips From a Fanatic Packer”

  1. Madeline says:

    Great suggestions………would you also publish one for Spring in Italy for a month?

  2. Amy Roseveare says:

    Awesome job, Lisa! But don’t you dare burn your clothes. 😉

    • Italy Perfect says:

      Amy, my wonderful stylist! I have gotten so much mileage from those clothes you helped me select. Thank you, thank you. Okay I won’t burn them after all! 🙂

  3. Laura Shaw says:

    summer packing tips would be great too!

  4. Lauren says:

    I really dislike packing, and your list is definitely very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Christy says:

    I would say that they is the most complete list and detailed so far on all tips that I stumble 🙂

  6. Marguerite says:

    Biggest question: What kind of a coat did you bring/wear? I have found that an all purpose coat that can go day to night is hard to find!

    • Italy Perfect says:

      Good question! I should have mentioned that. I brought my black Eddie Bauer Astoria parka which reaches mid-thigh. It’s synthetic-filled, I didn’t want down, too hot and bulky. Most important are the zipper pockets for my phone, coins, bus tickets. Even though it wasn’t dressy for evenings, most Italian women wear this style even out to dinner unless going somewhere really fancy. It doubled as my blanket on chilly flights or my pillow on trains. It packs down to nothing so I could cram it into my smaller carry-on bag with my toiletries if I didn’t need it.

  7. Justine Block says:

    Hi Lisa – fantastic list. We are staying in one of the Paris Perfect apartments in June. A summer list would be fantastic. We are doing a 6 week trip over June/July and your list would be brilliant for me … I’m a terribly packer! Thanks. Justine (Australia)

  8. Sandra Stark says:

    What brand space bags luggage packs do you use? What size?

    Thank you!

  9. kim says:

    Please tell me what your “super comfortable walking shoes” were.

    Picking shoes for Europe is a nightmare for me.


    • Italy Perfect says:

      Shoes are the hardest! Well, that & packing toiletries, which will be a future blog. I wear Stonefly an Italian brand with a gel sole, but comparable are Cole-Hahn, Rockport, Geox, Ecco, Merrill’s, Aerosole, Naturalizer as long as they don’t look too OL (old lady). Has to have a rubber sole, no heel, cobblestones are hard to walk on & chew up leather soles.

  10. Laurel Wityk says:

    Wonderful tips for packing. I would also love a summer list for travel in Europe – France, Spain and Italy.
    thanks Laurel

  11. Rose says:

    Do the plastic bags wrinkle your clothing when you squeeze the air out?

    • Italy Perfect says:

      Yes, but I travel with clothes that don’t require ironing. Winter: wool, cashmere, cotton knit. Also synthetic travel jersey knit that is featured in stores like TravelSmith.com and Chico’s. I’m not partial to synthetic, never wear it at home, but for overnight washability & packability, it works well. Summer: cotton and linen (ok, so linen wrinkles, that’s the look, as in Eileen Fisher clothes).

  12. Tazz says:

    Packing is such an important aspect of traveling especially when the trip is quite long. Missing out something that are so important for someone to have with all the time and taking something that can be found the country or destination of traveling can be equally discomforting…. so, one must have to do things right related to travel packing… this article gives a complete guideline of doing everything right… great post….

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