'Home Edit' Star Joanna Teplin Shares Her Tips on How to Stay Organized at Every Stage of Traveling

From packing, to actually traveling, and finally unpacking, Joanna Teplin of 'The Home Edit' shares her best tips for staying organized with T+L.

Clea & Joanna of the Home Edit
Photo: Courtesy of Home Edit

Keeping your wardrobe organized at home is hard enough, but when you travel it can turn into a downright gargantuan task.

That's why Travel + Leisure caught up with Joanna Teplin from Netflix's The Home Edit to get all her best tips on how to stay organized when you pack, keep your suitcase organized while you travel, and create a system at home for putting things away when the vacation is over.

"I think whatever system is for you — and it's the same in organizing, honestly — it's not a one size fits all," Teplin said. "It's really whatever you're going to be able to do and maintain [so] it's not so painful for you."

Teplin along with her partner-in-crime, Clea Shearer, are known for organizing at-home spaces for clients on and off camera (from celebrities like Lauren Conrad and Eva Longoria to busy everyday families with an overflowing pantry closet).

But thankfully their at-home tips can be taken on the road (or in the air) — here are Teplin's best tips for staying organized while packing, traveling, and even unpacking.

How do you stay organized while packing for a trip?

"You want to use packing squares or packing cubes. What they are is little pouches with zippers around them and a lot of them come with a little white card that you can label. So having these cubes allows you to… understand what you're putting into your suitcase and it allows you to maintain the system while you're away.

"Clea and I use them in different ways. Clea likes to put all of her jeans in one travel cube and she puts all of her pajamas in another and then she puts all of her underwear in another. I like to have it by outfit. So I like to have each pajama set in its own little pouch because I like to have it as like a little present when I go to bed, that it's all ready for me and I don't even have to dig through anything at all… I do the same with workout [clothes] every morning, I'm like, 'OK, it's waiting for me' … to eliminate any barrier of entry to try to work out in the morning when I'm short on time."

How do you think about what to pack?

"Depending on what you're doing — if you're just there for work and it's all kind of the same attire — you can mix and match… [but] sometimes it's more helpful to have Clea's system where you're like, 'OK, all sweaters in this one, all jeans in this one.' And sometimes I'll do that if we're going for meetings, but as far as for pajamas and workout [clothes], I like it each individual day, all set up… in separate pouches."

What kind of packing cubes do you use?

"I have a huge variety — I'm kind of a packing square hoarder, I will say. But I use them all and when you go on really long trips, it allows you to stay very organized and focused so it's worth the investment… And it's also worth the amount of space that all the squares take up in my closet because, again, I'd like to be really organized as much as I can when I'm traveling because I really don't like packing."

Any tricks to make sure you don't forget something when packing?

"I have a little tiny travel section in my closet, so it's all the things that I would use for a trip — it's like an extra toothbrush head, an extra deodorant… It just takes the barrier of entry out of it. And all those bags all live together and they could be in a little plastic bin, they can be in a drawer, you just want to have a spot designated for all your travel items, especially if you travel a lot… it's something you're going to need to go to and be able to put things away super easily when you get home."

How do you prevent your stuff from exploding all over your hotel room?

"What you should do is when you get to the hotel, I mean Clea, no matter if it's the middle of the night, she will not make any exceptions…she'll take every packing cube and put it in the drawers in the hotel….and then she zips up her suitcase and puts it on the side of the room.

"I usually have the packing cubes and I don't necessarily put them in the drawers, but I have a stack of them. And then because mine are more individualized, I just bring whatever I need to do, like if I'm going to bed, then I have my one little cube ready to go."

How do you maintain order when you re-pack your suitcase with dirty clothes?

"This I also swear by: I have a foldable suitcase that's like a duffel that folds up to next to nothing and weighs next to nothing. And I always bring it with me and I use that as a laundry bag. So after I've worn the clothes… it's waiting for me as if it would be a hamper at home. And oftentimes, if I'm on a trip and we end up shopping or whatever we're doing and… we buy more things, instead of having to worry about a tight suitcase, it's a bag that I'm able to check. So I just checked my whole laundry bag on the way home from the trip and just have an extra bag…"

"I know clothes seem to expand on a trip… but if you can check a bag, I highly recommend checking the laundry bag. It takes the pressure off because otherwise it's such a nightmare to repack at the end of a trip, especially if you know on the front end that you were tight going in, it somehow is that much harder on the way out."

What do you do with all your travel items when you get home?

"This is where the laundry bag comes in, it's so helpful. So the laundry is already separated… So then, in theory, everything remaining is either toiletries or clean clothes that you didn't wear and your empty packing squares. So I put all the packing squares, all the empty ones, they go right back in. Sometimes, if it's a full one that, say, I didn't work out and I thought I was going to and it's already packed, I'll just leave it in my suitcase for the next trip if it's right around the corner. But I do try to get everything out and put away so that you're fresh for the next trip."

Are you team unpack the minute you get home or are you team leave it a couple of days — or weeks?

"It depends on the trip and it depends on my mental state. The ideal thing to really do is [to unpack] as soon as you possibly can… Unless the trip is like the next day — which I've also had back to back trips — then it's 'Ok… all the toiletries stay, you swap this out for the next thing.' Sometimes if I have back to back trips, I'll pack for both trips at once and just have all the next packing squares ready to go to swap it out."

This interview was edited for both clarity and length.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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