Marie Kondo is taking the world by a storm right now, with her Netflix series being watched all around the world. It seems like everyone at the moment is re-evaluating their lives and throwing out everything that doesn’t ‘spark joy‘ and of course I cannot help but participate, as I love to learn about lifestyle design and anything that contributes to self-development.
I wrote a full review of the Marie Kondo book, so you can read all about the details of her KonMari method, but for this article, I’ll have a closer look at some of the thoughts and actions that Marie Kondo suggests in her book that apply beautifully to packing your bag or suitcase for a trip. I hope you find the tips and advice helpful!
KONMARI FOLDING METHOD FOR TRAVEL
In short, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and author, who has written four books on organising. Her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” became a #1 New York Times best-selling book and she was listed as one of Time’s “100 most influential people” in 2015.
Her ‘KonMari’ method teaches you how to discard items that don’t bring you happiness (spark joy) in your life and how to organizing your space so you can display and reach everything that does much more easier.
Marie says that the KonMari method will be life-transforming and is much more than just about organising alone. It is all about changing the way you think, changing your habits and understanding for yourself what you need in life and what you don’t.
I believe that you can apply many elements from the KonMari method to the way you pack your bags for a trip as well, and in the rest of the article, I will be sharing my best tips on how to pack a piece of luggage that will spark joy for you!
As a model, I will be using my Standard Luggage backpack, because I believe this is the perfect bag to take on board a plane as carry-on, one of those moments where you really have to think about all the items you want (and are allowed to) bring on your trip.
One of the first things that Marie Kondo tells us in her book is that we should -before we start deciding which items to keep or discard- make it really clear for ourselves what the ideal outcome would be after you finish tidying up, or in this case: packing your bag.
Draw a vivid picture in your head of what your goal is and ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of this trip?
- What type of outfits do I want to wear on the destination?
- What weight do I want to carry with me?
- How much space do I want to have left in my bag after packing?
- Why do I want my luggage organised?
- What would it be like when my bag is organised?
- How would it make me feel when I have a tidy backpack / suitcase?
- … (come up with more questions for your specific situation)
After you know what your ultimate goal is, it’s time to examine what you own and gather the items that you believe will spark joy on your trip. Same as with decluttering as described in Marie’s book, I would advise to do this all in one go, so you don’t leave anything out and start adding items to your bag later, which will only result in a messy and way too heavy bag.
I have divided the process of packing into four steps:
- First, you pile everything you think you need (you can use a packing list for this) onto the floor or your bed
- You organise all the items by category (clothing, papers, shoes, toiletries, electronics, bags, etc.)
- You pick up each item from the different categories and ask ‘would this spark joy on my trip?’ If it does, keep it. If not, put it back in your closet.
- Choose a container (a ‘home’) for each of the items in each categories
By repeating the process category by category, you will easily see if you packed too many things that are the same, or if there is still something missing. In the KonMari method, these are the categories you would go through:
- tops (shirts, sweaters, vests)
- bottoms (jeans, pants, skirts)
- clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, dresses)
- bags (purse, day backpack, drawstring bags, packing cubes)
- accessories (scarves, belts, hats)
- clothes for specific events (swimsuits, sports clothing, hiking gear, etc.)
- to read for pleasure
- for practical use (business books, travel guides, language books, etc.)
- visual books & comics
- insurance, tickets, hotel bookings, maps, notebooks, travel journal, business cards, etc.
- decide if you can perhaps take a digital version instead?
- komono (miscellany)
- skin care products (creams, perfume, deodorant, face wipes, shampoo, shower gel, shaving cream, etc.)
- accessories (watch, glasses, sunglasses, jewelry, umbrella, neck pillow, towels, water bottle, etc.)
- valuables (money, passports, creditcards, etc.)
- electrical equipment (hairdryers, straighteners, razor, camera gear, headphones, adapter, flashlight, powerbank, phone, chargers, etc.)
- household equipment & supplies (first aid kit, medicines, sun lotion, bug spray, eye contacts, tooth brush & paste, nail clippers, tweezers, tissue paper, sewing kit, etc.)
- kitchen goods (cutlery, cooking gear, cooler box, etc.)
- hobby-related items (drawing set, guitar, playing cards, card games, etc.)
- camping gear
- photos, etc. if you bring these on a trip
Store each category together
After deciding on what you want to bring on your trip, it’s time to store them properly! Give every item in each category their own ‘home’, for example by adding all your camera gear to one bag, your toiletries to another, and so on.
Over the years, I have gathered the ‘perfect’ little pockets for every item that I often carry. Now when I travel, I don’t have to think where everything should go, because their home is already planned in advance. That way, I never bring too much either.
For example, here are my make-up items (divided into ‘dry’ and ‘liquids’) and first-aid kit, all packed up on the bottom right photo, along with my (tiny) hairbrush, hair straighteners, glasses and sunglasses.
And here are my shoe bags. The one with my name on it was knitted by my mom when I was about 6 and needed a bag for my clothes and shoes for gym class! LOVE IT!
Time to Fold!
Folding clothing is another important element to the KonMari method. The goal is here to fold each item into a smooth rectangle. Then fold again, in halves or in thirds, so you can stand the garment on edge, fitting the height of the (what I recommend) your packing cube. Even socks and stockings get folded, or rolled up like a sushi-roll.
Let’s look at some examples:
After socks and underwear, I move to tops:
And finally, I end with bottoms and ticker tops/vests/jackets:
After everything is folded and stored in it’s own place, it’s time to assemble the bag. I add the bulky packing cubes first, then in between the two little packing cubes, I add my camera bag (so it’s padded from two sides), then my shoes and any daily backpack on top.
In the mesh pocket of the bag, I add my glasses, hairbrush and first aid kit and then I zip up the bag. Because items have shifted a bit inside, when I stand up the bag there is usually some space freed up at the top, so I can add the toiletries on top. The liquids I have to take out at customs, so this way I can reach it easily.
I add my laptop to the laptop compartiment and add a tiny handbag for valuables such as money, phone and passport and that’s it!
All packed up and ready to go!
The KonMari method really teaches you that effective packing really only involves only three essential actions: choosing only the items that you need and love, deciding where to store them and folding in a smart way. After you’ve packed your bag like this once, packing for a next trip gets so much easier, because now you can just add most of the same items again in the spots that they belong.
GET MARIE KONDO’S BOOK AND CHANGE THE WAY YOU PACK:
Title: the life-changing magic of tidying up – the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
Author: Marie Kondo
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Where to buy: Amazon
GET THE STANDARD LUGGAGE BACKPACK:
Carry-on Backpack > USD $199
Packing Cube Set > USD $59
Check here for all our tips on trip planning!
Disclaimer: We worked in partnership with Standard Luggage on this article. All photos, videos and opinions are 100% our own.