Lately, my daughter has been the curator of excitement for the household that is actually two households: one belonging to my unhusband and one belonging to myself.
You see, my 16-year-old is going to Italy for twelve days with her elite high school choral group. And I should know, because for the past six months my extended family has participated in an abundance of fundraisers dedicated to the trip’s balance sheet — which in Italian translates to, “we washed a lot of cars.”
As her departure day approaches, attention turns to her suitcase, and what will be inside of it, and the clothing order is nearly as tall as my daughter has grown. (It includes everything from a bathing suit for a dunk in the Mediterranean to long skirts when visiting the churches where they’ll perform secular a cappella music.)
Cold nights, warm days, chilly buses, sunny balconies she must pack accordingly into a carry-on bag befitting her heritage. Which is to say the last time the family went to Europe, I packed clothes for me and my two children in a bag smaller than a chicklet. Uphill. In driving snow.
To this end, my daughter has spent her share of the past week behind a discount fitting room door trying to procure those few items that can layer into a chic wardrobe and meet every range of need:
In an effort to help her prioritize, I assembled the following list of The Top 15 Packing Tips For The Teenage Girl:
- Pack several different size ziplock bags to be filled later with everything from wet ponchos to dirty socks to snacks — though, I hope, not all at the same time.
- Wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane. Including a scarf because it gets chilly when being ventilated with the recycled air that will later give you the sniffles you will call home about and pass amongst the group of thirty for the entirety of your stay. Oy.
- Roll up t-shirts and other cotton things it keeps them from wrinkling.
- Take a few clothespins to be used in hotel rooms as needed to hang dry and not just drape.
- Tag your luggage in case of loss.
- Divide stuff in your suitcase by category such as all undergarments, all t-shirts, all pants. Your suitcase will be your closet away from home and you won’t have to disrupt everything to locate one item.
- Flip-flops take up no room and serve lots of functions, from sandy beaches to late night hall bathroom trips.
- Packing a journal is more valuable than bringing a book. (Don’t forget the pen!)
- Choose comfort over style because being comfortable is always more stylish.
- Take a small suitcase. Really. It’s easier to negotiate, and proves you are humorous.
- Skip pajamas and think sweatpants and t-shirt. This doubles as airplane clothes, hiking clothes, and laying around missing your mother clothes.
- Don’t forget accessories! Hair clips and rings and earrings and bracelets can be dropped into a small ziplock.
- To keep necklaces from tangling, lay them flat on a sheet of tissue paper, roll it up, then fold into your accessory ziplock.
- Don’t forget the camera charger!
- Pack extra space. Because stuff in places is always neater than stuff you can get at home.