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Packing Tips From a Pack Rat

Sheri Radel Rosenberg has major baggage. Pack like Beyonce going on eternal vacation? When it comes to packing for a trip, more is more.


The word alone sends me into a total tizzy and always has. So what about going away, and that p-word, makes me feel so crazy? Let’s unpack it.

I traveled a lot in my former life as a producer. Trips to London for two weeks. Ten days in Tokyo or Los Angeles. My approach to packing is excessive. Like Mariah Carey vs carry-on excessive. Because I am a girl who needs options. This has gotten worse, not better, with age.

I remember loving this article in Vogue that shared Joan Didion’s enviable minimal packing list, including a spare wardrobe, cigarettes, and bourbon. And though conventional wisdom (aka the internet) offers packing tips like ABE (always be editing), accessorizing, and investing in some packing cubes, I’m not a conventional girl. For those who overpack, I salute you.

So here are my true tips as I ponder parking for two weeks at the beach. You’d be better off taking packing advice from people who wear pants that zip away to shorts that you can wash in your hotel room sink, but here goes everything:

First, pack like you are headed into the apocalypse or, at the bare minimum, the Amazon. Because as you know, there are no stores where you are headed. Coastal Eastern seaboard areas are notoriously remote, and there are no stores.

Not big on apocalypses? Pack like Beyoncé going to St. Tropez for eternity. Because even though you’re headed to the Jersey Shore and will most likely wear your favorite shorts from Target 24/7, a bounty of caftans and sparkly things makes you feel safe.

Think of your car as your back-seats-down suitcase. Because you are driving, your entire Jeep Cherokee is one big bag, so stuff it accordingly. Congratulations on not flying somewhere and fighting with your spouse about your overweight bag fee. Well played.

Speaking of husbands, why not surprise and delight them by placing a few extra bras or a cashmere sweater or extra retinol serum in his suitcase so he can find an extra treat to unpack? So romantic.

Always pack 27 pairs of underwear — no more, no less. The same goes for bras.

Bring every beauty product you own. Your jowls and crow’s feet don’t go on vacation; therefore, it all must come with you — every serum, lotion, and potion. As you pack up your regimen, pray to nobody in particular that you will have enough shelf space in your hotel or Airbnb to contain it all.

Pack a hat that needs its own seatbelt. And then pack a thousand more. Then buy a new one at the beach because you need a new one.

Since the car is your suitcase (repeat after me, my car is my suitcase), bring those pre-pandemic pieces that are a full-on crap shoot as to whether they still fit. If they don’t, blame it on the barometric pressure at the beach. 

Packing five bulbous hardcover books in your beach tote is essential. If you read them, it will be a miracle. That history-of-fabric book is intriguing, but so is staring into space. The same goes for your gym clothes; it’s cute that you think you’ll work out. Unloading the car is workout enough. 

Think you’ve got it all covered? If you forget micellar water or Motrin, you must stop at CVS. What’s a vacation without sightseeing at an unfamiliar CVS? By the end of the week, you’ll know it like the back of your hand. 

Your new puppy must have her very own valise for everything from those stinky salmon treats to that sparkly vest to keep the gulls away to her small, medium, and large Lamb Chop stuffies.

Measure out a microdot. Then divide by two. That’s the space in the car/suitcase reserved for your husband’s things. Place his stuff under your giant Diptyque Baies candle you bring in case the Airbnb is musty.

Lastly, you’ve got a road trip ahead of you, so snack pack accordingly. Nice try on those pickle chips from 7-11. We all know you’ll exclusively eat the Chex Mix and get yelled at for meticulously picking out all the bagel chips. It’s not your fault you have a discerning palate, so fight back.

Thus concludes my packrat packing tips. My summer vacations are full of stuff. Literally. After all, more is more (until it needs to be unpacked).

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


  1. Loved this article. We are kindred in our attitudes towards packing. The only bonus of a car drive is indeed packing that car full. You never when you will be invited by Royalty to high tea or a polo match. Like a good girl scout, always be prepared.

  2. I want to meet the author. And the Wendy Before me. Not ten minutes ago I got off the phone with the loveliest airline customer service person. She and I had a lively discussion on the fine art of overpacking, and why we do it. I am far from a fashion queen- but I still had to bring more than I needed to walk 100 miles on the Camino de Santiago! I expect to get teased for the size of my suitcase. I test out new responses each time someone comments.

  3. Thank you for acknowledging that every dog should 💯 have their own bag. How can we know in advance which stuffie we want to play with or whether a striped polo or Hawaiian shirt is more suitable for sunset puptails until we get there and assess the vibe 🐶🧳❤️

  4. Thank you for acknowledging that every dog should 💯 have their own bag. How can we know in advance which stuffie we want to play with or whether a striped polo or a Hawaiian shirt is suitable for sunset puptails until we get there and assess the vibe 🐶🧳❤️

  5. Yes yes yes. On our recent air trip we checked three 49lb suitcases (limit is 50lbs) The thrill of tetris-ing shoes and bras across 5 bags -(oh, did I not mention carry-ons making it possible?)- is the only way we get to use our math and logic skills as an adult and underpackers will never know the thrill of satisfaction that comes from avoiding the overage fee. But bring a car into the situation and every square inch is up for grabs. If we run out of room you can put my hats in your lap, after all!


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Sheri Radel Rosenberghttps://unapologeticstyle.substack.com/
Sheri Radel Rosenberg is a Philly-born, Brooklyn-based writer who explores style, beauty, culture, and midlife with wit, warmth, and wisdom. Her story includes successful forays in the worlds of trend forecasting, ad agency photo production, ghostwriting, and strategic messaging development for fashion and beauty brands - all while amassing a slip dress collection that would make any Gen Xer proud. At the dawn of social media, Sheri launched her personal blog–which combines her passion for writing with her style obsession–and she hasn’t looked back. As Style Editor for the AGEIST, she’s inspired by the styles of the 70s and the 90s, along with all the beautiful people she sees daily in NYC.


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