Pack Like a Pro: Chattanooga style consultant Alex Sachel shares tips for efficient traveling

Getty Images / Illustration by Matt McClane

We all know the traveling rule, "Pack what you think you'll need, then take half out."

But with a little advance planning and being cognizant of how to use each article of clothing in multiple ways, you won't even have to do that, says Alex Sachel, style consultant and a professional packer.

Sachel grew up in upstate New York before moving to New York City to attend college at a small private fashion school that focused on the business of fashion rather than design, she says.

"My uncle had lived in Chattanooga for 20-plus years, so I had been visiting since I was a child and always loved the ease of the city. When I decided I was done with the rat race, slowing down in Chattanooga sounded like the right fit."

She moved here nine years ago, managing and buying for a local boutique. In 2018, she launched ACS Style Consulting to fill a need she saw in the fashion market. She helps clients understand how to dress to flatter their body and how to build and organize a wardrobe to meet their daily lifestyles.

"So many men and women would come in not knowing how to dress for their body type and/or not aware of what their personal style was. I offer full seasonal wardrobe buying and styling, closet edits/purging, event styling, and my most popular service is travel styling/packing," she says.

The professional packing service is offered only to her ACS clients, but she shares several tips that can ease packing chores for any traveler.

While every trip is different and packing is based on itinerary, there are some general rules that will make the only baggage you have to deal with the suitcase rolling behind you.

  photo  Staff photos by Olivia Ross / Alex Sachel poses for photos with her luggage.

Following are 10 tips to help you pack like a pro.

1. Start your preparation by reviewing each day's itinerary: Is it all just leisure travel? If it's business, will you need cocktail attire? How many days are business meetings versus leisure time?

Check the weather forecast for your destination.

If traveling internationally, it is important to know that country's customs to ensure you are respectful of their culture, she says.

Check your airline to see what its weight and size limits are for luggage.

"Every airline is different, so I recommend always checking your airline's website for specifics prior to leaving."

2. Plan what you think you'll need and lay it all out on your bed.

Now look at those pieces and re-evaluate how you can mix and match to cut that number down.

"The most important thing when packing is versatility; how to make the most outfits using the least number of pieces. This puzzle is what I love about packing," she says.

3. "I put outfits together by day and occasion, and take pictures for reference," says Sachel. These photos not only help her clients when packing to make sure nothing is left behind, but can be used for reference on the trip.

"The most common mistake is trying to make completely new outfits for each day. This is almost impossible."

4. Start with shoes and work outfits up from there.

"Invest in a great pair of walking shoes and wear them before leaving. You never want to pack new shoes that haven't been broken in."

5. You don't need more than three pairs of shoes: one for day, one for night, one for walking.

"The key is versatility. Don't pack a pair of shoes that only goes with one outfit."

6. Sachel advocates using packing cubes to keep clothes organized inside a suitcase. She also prefers hanging toiletry bags to those that roll up or cases because hanging bags will pack flat.

7. Sachel says she finds it most efficient to roll T-shirts, workout wear, sleepwear, swimwear and intimate apparel, and place them in packing cubes where they are easily accessible upon arrival.

"I recommend that clothing be folded as little as possible. So with dresses, for example, I usually fold one time [in half] to keep it from becoming too wrinkled."

8. Sachel suggests placing shoes individually in shoe bags instead of by pairs. This allows more flexibility in packing as the bags can be maneuvered into smaller spaces to fill in around clothing.

9. "When traveling with a checked bag and a carry-on, I recommend using the carry-on for toiletries and cosmetics [if you have travel size] and a couple of days worth of outfits, in case your checked bag doesn't arrive on time," Sachel advises.

10. Anything valuable should also go in your carry-on since you keep it with you to protect it from theft or loss.

And one last suggestion from the consultant: If you travel often, it's important to think about your travel outfit.

"My pet peeve is people in the airport in pajamas, sweatpants, slippers, etc. You can travel and still be comfortable and look stylish. Invest in easy to remove footwear, a carry-all bag that connects to/works well with your carry-on, and wet wipes!"