Nothing sends us into a tizzy quite like packing for a getaway—especially a short one. No matter how calmly and rationally we approach that innocent-looking suitcase, like clockwork, a fun cocktail of anxiety and paranoia washes over us. The same frantic questions run a marathon through our heads: What if it’s cold? What if it’s hot? Do I need to bring those heels? Should I pack a hat?
The thing is, one doesn’t magically master the art of packing light. It’s a skill that comes with time, experience and good old-fashioned trial and error. But since we’re an impatient group, we’re getting to the bottom of it by asking a pro for answers. And with a successful luggage brand under her belt, as well as a passport that’s busier than Nordstrom on Black Friday, Jen Rubio knows her stuff. The co-founder of Away has packing down to a science—or a carry-on more specifically. Yes, Jen has learned to keep it light for any occasion and is kind enough to share her tips. Check out how she streamlines packing for any destination.
Away You Go!
Ideal Locale: The Four Seasons Lanai in Hawaii. "Malibu Farm Swedish pancakes, an exotic bird rescue and some of the best snorkeling I've ever done."
Carry-On Essentials: "I always pack a few one-pieces that can transition to an outfit under a skirt or Levi’s shorts, Caroline Constas off-the-shoulder shirts and Avene ultra-light hydrating sunscreen spray. I need a spray-on sunscreen or I'll end up with huge white streaks all over myself."
What To Avoid: "The biggest mistake people make when packing for the beach is over-packing. You're not going to need those flatforms, that beaded kimono or long-sleeved pajamas (even though we always think we do). There's such a freedom in packing light, and a tropical vacation is the easiest place to practice that."
The Perfect Add-On: "A good face oil—Vintner's Daughter is my favorite. Oh, and a giant, dramatic hat."
Ideal Locale: Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. "I went to a wonderful wedding there, and loved the intimate feel of it. There's nothing better than an old-fashioned house party!"
Carry-On Essentials: "I like a dress I can wear with heels and flats, in case I want to change to dance. I always bring a portable steamer, safety pins, double-stick tape and Band-Aids with me—you never know what people might need once they get in their formalwear."
What To Avoid: Winging it. "Try on everything right before you go, and plan the outfit in minuscule detail. I can't tell you how many horror stories I've heard of dresses that fit six days before but didn't the day of, or forgotten earring backs or shoes that were too uncomfortable to walk in."
The Perfect Add-On: "I always bring a linen robe. You never know when a hotel is going to have robes, and it's a must when you're spending time on your hair and makeup."
Ideal Locale: Los Angeles. "I fly to LA a lot for work, and I always stay with one of my friends when I’m there. There are so many great reasons to stay with friends, not least of which is being able to shop out of their closets."
Carry-On Essentials: "I pack the basics: wide-leg silk pants, black slip dresses, long cardigans and flat mules. I also bring my Pop & Suki Camera bag; It has changeable straps, so I can wear a cross-body or a baguette bag without packing multiple pieces."
What To Avoid: Heavy materials. "Go with lightweight fabrics, but bring a sweater. The temperatures change so rapidly; it might be a thousand degrees while you're trekking through an airport parking lot looking for your Uber, but positively arctic once you get into a boardroom."
The Perfect Add-On: "Bring your favorite pajamas and a lavender pillow spray. It can be hard to fall asleep when you're away from home, but little things make you feel more like you're in your own bed."
Ideal Locale: Ballyfin Hotel in Ireland. "This is the best place to go in the snow. It has horseback riding, archery—and a really cozy library with hot chocolate and backgammon."
Carry-On Essentials: "I always pack shearling-lined boots, a Barbour jacket and a few chunky Isabel Marant knits."
What To Avoid: Anything unwieldy. "I think the assumption is that you'll need huge, bulky items for a cold-weather trip, but it's way more effective to pack layers. They take up less space in your bag, and you can always adjust if you get too warm or cold."
The Perfect Add-On: "Extra socks. You always need more socks than you think you will. And Dior apricot cuticle balm—no one wants dry nails."