Getting the title of “good packer” is no easy feat. In fact, even the most seasoned travelers get it wrong a lot of the time, forgetting their toothbrush in the bathroom at home or not bringing along enough pairs of socks. But one surefire way to achieve that coveted level of travel know-how is to work as a buyer at one of the top retailers in the country for more than a decade, which is exactly what Jodi Kahn, Neiman Marcus’s senior director and DMM of women’s designer ready-to-wear, has done.
Over the last 13 years, Kahn has worked in practically every department at Neiman’s, ranging from ready-to-wear to beauty to couture, and this has allowed her to gain insight into the shopping habits of all types of customers, including those heading out on weekend getaways and weeklong summer holidays. Based in Dallas, she also frequently travels for work (in fact, I met Kahn in Upstate New York at a camp-themed activation for the retailer’s summer campaign), giving her ample opportunities to hone her packing craft. So with two big trips ahead of me this summer and countless quick getaways in the works, I felt it was necessary to get her opinion on this summer’s packing essentials before I jet off. Just as I suspected, her answers to all of my packing-related questions did not disappoint.
According to Kahn, the key to packing successfully is a checklist. “Lists are my best friend for every situation. Whether it’s for packing or for work, I love crossing off items,” she tells me. “I typically plan out complete outfits depending on the type of trip I am packing for.” When planning, Kahn says that she likes to designate a specific theme or color story for the trip so that all of the pieces in her suitcase can be mixed and matched depending on her mood or the occasion. “It’s easier to prevent overpacking by eliminating footwear or clothing that doesn’t fit [that] aesthetic,” she says. “Commit to a look and stick with it!”
While there are, of course, dependent variables when it comes to packing based on your destination, agenda, and more, Kahn also believes that some things are a must when packing in the summer. Keep scrolling to see the 12 items that Neiman Marcus’s senior director of designer ready-to-wear never ever travels in the summer without, no matter where she’s jetting off (or driving) to.
“The best way to embrace the season’s carefree spirit and reconnect with your most stylish self is to explore playful accessories. I love this pair of oversize sunglasses from Bottega Veneta.“
“This Loulou Studio matching crop top and pleated wide-leg pants are a versatile set that is a must-have in my vacation wardrobe.”
“Everyone needs a bag that is both stylish and functional when exploring. This straw tote from Loewe x Paula’s Ibiza captures the summer spirit and is the perfect size to bring with you from the plane to the beach.”
“I’m excited to try this luxurious and efficacious sunscreen from RéVive, which features advanced UV protection to protect the skin against sun damage and premature aging.”
“Pareo scarves remain popular this season, and this logo-stripe one from Balenciaga is perfect for a sunny destination.”
“This cutout halter jumpsuit from Bronx and Banco is sure to turn heads and is a bold look for a summer soirée.”
“Having high-quality luggage is very important when traveling. This multi-wheel suitcase from Rimowa is both durable and lightweight.”
“In the warmer months, it’s extra important to treat your hair with products that protect from sun and heat damage. Miriam Quevedo provides luxury haircare using clean ingredients.”
“I love the sunless bronzed look that the Dolce Glow self-tanner offers from celebrity-favorite tan artist Isabel Alysa. It’s made with a natural and organic formula that is beneficial to your skin’s health and offers one of the best solutions on the market.”
“These iconic Prada sneakers will elevate a casual outfit and still offer comfort, making them universal shoes for my vacation wardrobe.”
“Of course, it’s important to have a stylish swimsuit packed for a summer vacation. This bikini set and cover-up from Rebecca Vallance are one of my favorites.”
“These metallic flat sandals from Fendi are a versatile and chic option for daytime strolls or evening cocktails.”