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How I pack for 5 months: a packing ninja reveals her secrets

Saturday, October 12, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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Recently my friend Karen called me a ‘packing ninja’. I can’t remember the last time anyone called me a ninja, in any context. So I decided I needed to claim this accolade, and do what I’ve been promising to do for months now: show you how I pack for a five month trip in a cabin-sized carry-on case.

1. The luggage

Great packing relies on great luggage. I travel with two pieces. One cabin-sized roll-aboardĀ and one Epiphanie Clover shoulder bag.

2. The packing squares

Herein lies the true secret of great packing. I use Eagle Creek packing cubes and packing sacs obsessively – as you’ll see soon.

3. The content.

Packing light does require a certain commitment to keeping things simple (I usually travel with three pairs of shoes: one for running in, one for the beach and one for everything else) but it doesn’t have to mean minimalism.

I live in tunics. Alone, with my gold Haviana sandals, they make great casual dresses on warm days. In cooler weather (and when flying) I add a base layer of leggings and wool knitĀ tank or dress.

When it comes to fabrics, I swear by silks and lightweight wool knits because they are light, pack well, wear well and also happen to look and feel beautiful. In tried and true travel style, I generally stick to neutrals (black, grey and tan) for my basics and add colour through the tunics and dresses.

Here’s what I’ve been wearing for the past five months.

The base layers

The base layers (merino wool knit by Icebreaker) 4 tops, 4 leggings + 1 dress

The tunics

The tunics. Various colours & length. Worn alone as dresses, or over leggings.

The yoga gear

The yoga gear – Off the Mat tank + Bodha leggings

The dress pants

The dress pants – organic silk from Clary Sage yoga wear.

The evening dress

The special event dress – by Starfish (worn over merino dress & leggings)

The day dress

The day dress – a vintage 1970’s silk Diane Von Furstenberg

The feature pieces

The feature pieces – peacock leggings + Starfish black lace knit top

The jeans & tees

The jeans & tees – my Wranglers, two silk tees + one casual cotton tee

The handbag

The handbag/satchel – folds flat into my roll-abroad on travel days.

The outer layers

The outer layers – a sweater, leather jacket, linen jacket + raincoat

The running gear

The running gear – my running tops double as yoga tops & sleepwear

The shorts

The shorts – these are silk in front so I can dress them up if I want to

The office

The office – MacBook Air, Moleskin, real books + Etymotic headphones

The bathroom

The bathroom – I refill travel-sized toiletries on the road

The scarves

The scarves/shawls – 2 soft wool, 1 cotton from FashionABLE

The shoes

The shoes – the red boots are a recent, rare, frivolous addition

The rest

The rest: sleep mask, earplugs + always, tea & chocolate

The lot

The lot – what it looks like packed into my Eagle Creek cubes & bags


Packed – how it all fits in to the two bags (with a little squeezing)

The result

The result – everything in the other photos (except what I’m wearing) is in those bags.














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