Leadership: Packing for the New Year? Be intention about what you bring with you

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Del Rosario Contributed

Within the next month, I will travel internationally to Australia, Papua New Guinea and Cancun.

One business trip will take me to another continent, where I am advised to pack light. I don’t know how to do this. It is an 11-day trip, and the food might not always agree with my American stomach.

Besides bringing snacks and protein bars, I also need to pack a mini pharmacy, workout clothes and business casual outfits. Of course, multiple pairs of shoes are a necessity.

At the time of this writing, I am two days from leaving for Australia and Papua New Guinea. So far, I have staged all my clothes and travel items on a spare bed. This process allows me to see everything before making it fit in my luggage bag.

The bed is full. I have decided to follow the Reuse, Recycle, Reduce system to downsize my piles.


It is tempting to pack all three of my new bathing suits and a pair of shoes to match every outfit. However, I don’t want to pay extra to check more luggage. Instead, I am focusing on packing items I can reuse during my trip.

The bulkiest of items to pack are shoes. I have chosen to pack only three pair:

One pair of sandals that are appropriate for the beach and comfortable for walking.One pair of tennis shoes for exercise or hiking and to wear on airplanes.One black and one white pair of dressier, yet reasonably flat shoes that will match any of my outfits.

Even though shoes can make or break an outfit, I am foregoing colorful heels to reduce the space needed in my luggage.

Another bulky necessity is a sweater. I will be traveling to warmer climates. However, it can get cool on airplanes and in hotels. I have chosen a heavier gray sweater jacket with zipper pockets to wear as my warm coat when I leave Chicago. The zipper pockets will securely house my phone and other essentials while traveling.

I also packed one lightweight sweater to wear throughout the week, assuming that layers will be helpful in air-conditioned conference rooms. I have strategically chosen a black, rather than white, sweater. This color will match my outfits, easily fit in my bag, hide any possible stains and not draw attention. People will be less likely to notice this bland accessory if I wear it a few different days in a row.


Besides wearing some of my clothes a few times during my trip, I also will recycle the bags I use to pack my items.

I have small zippered pouches that come in handy while packing underwear, a travel first-aid kit and snacks. By having these items in smaller bags, I can shove them into the corners of my suitcase. This strategic process will keep the like things together so that I easily will find what I need when I need it, without entirely unpacking my bag during an overnight layover.

I will secure snacks and food items in plastic zip bags. I will reuse these bags to bring home dirty laundry, wet bathing suits and other local treats. A few chip bag clips will be added to each zip bag so I can close any bags of food purchased during the trip. This way, I will not waste any treats that could quickly become stale.


By reusing and recycling, I will reduce my luggage bags’ weight and travel costs.

I am proud that my suitcase that I will check in with the airline is 39 pounds. This is a first. Usually, at this point, I am over the allotted luggage weight and need to unpack.

What do I attribute to my packing success so far? Intentionally planning and forecasting all angles of my trip. This strategic process takes time but allows me to think about the big picture. That’s precisely what successful leaders do every day. They see more and before their team members. They see the forest before the trees and plan accordingly.

Besides having a safe and enjoyable trip, my ultimate goal is to pack light, so my baggage does not hold me back or cost me unnecessary money. As we welcome a New Year, take some time to think about the big picture before you.

What is your ultimate goal for 2023? Be intentional about how you pack for your year.

Kathie Rotz is an executive leadership coach and speaker with Unity Consulting and the author of “You Have Superpowers” online learning program.

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