Personal Item Travel – Jewelry


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Personal item packing – jewelry

Traveling with an under the seat bag means trimming everything to a smaller size.  It also means that you are trying to reduce weight.  Jewelry is often an ignored part of this equation because it takes up so little room in the overall bag.  I would like to push back against this mind set.  Jewelry can add significant weight to a bag, and jewelry cases can add bulk.  Today I’d like to discuss strategies for reducing the size and weight of your travel jewelry.

In the past, I’ve talked about using a travel capsule core for ensuring that you have all the needed clothes for your trip. The core consists of a few foundational clothing items that will work across most activities. The same principles apply for your jewelry. Selecting a core set of jewelry means that you can reduce the total amount of pieces and still have the right adornment for any occasion.

Features of Core Jewelry

  • It is inexpensive – Do not take expensive or sentimental jewelry on trips! The risk of loss is simply too high. The reality is that you are out of your normal element. That means the potential for loss or breakage is higher than normal. Use costume jewelry as much as possible.
  • It is light – Metal is heavy. Try to find the lightest pieces possible for your jewelry core. All of us know how heavy earrings or a heavy necklace can actually wear you down. On top of this, you want to keep the weight of your bag lighter. This is achieved one gram at a time.
  • It is multifunctional – Simple but distinct jewelry can go from casual to dress occasions.  Overly simplistic jewelry will be too casual for dress occasions.  Overly dramatic jewelry will be too fancy for casual occasions.  Yes, I’m advocating for neutral.  You decide what works best for you!
  • It fits with your core wardrobe.  You’ve already chosen a capsule wardrobe core and a limited color scheme.  This means that you can limit most of your jewelry to a single metal. 
  • It collapses. You can’t afford bulk when doing under the seat travel. Stiff pieces are more likely to get broken too. Avoid stiff bib necklaces and fragile statement jewelry.

The Core Jewelry Pieces

  • A simple necklace – This is going to be used for your normal days. I’ve found that Princess and Matinee lengths work best.
  • A pendant necklace – this will add bling for dressier occasions.  Avoid this necklace on travel days where it can get snagged on things and break.
  • Stud earrings – Used for exercise, sleeping on airplanes, etc.  Wear these on travel days to avoid snagging on anything.
  • Drop earrings or hoops – Used for both normal wear and also for dressier occasions.
  • A bracelet – This is optional. I like to carry a light one, and also a packable cuff bracelet for dressy occasions. The cuff bracelet is elasticized so I can roll it up and pack it into a smaller area.
Cuff bracelet internals
The elastic in this cuff bracelet allows it to collapse flat for packing.

Other Jewelry

OK, I admit it. I am not a pure minimalist when it comes to travel. I like to bring along other jewelry to expand my selection. The key to light travel is to limit the amount of jewelry in this category. Here are the other pieces that I bring:

  • An extra watch band – I use a sport band on my watch for daily use and exercise.  I carry an additional metal band for business meetings and dress occasions.  This is a luxury item, but I find that I use it a lot.
  • The pearls – I have an inexpensive faux pearl necklace and drop earrings that I use for dressier situations.  Pearls dress up anything.  I personally find that pearls can go across a wider range of dress situations than cut stones.  YMMV.
  • Other pieces – sometimes I’ll bring colored pieces that reflect my core wardrobe. Colored chandelier earrings are fun. Just make sure they are light!

How To Pack It

My most important equipment for packing jewelry is the pill bag. These can be found in many pharmacies and on line. I use a slightly larger bead bag for pendant necklaces and bulky items. I use a single bag for each piece of jewelry. This keeps the pieces from rubbing against each other and causing abrasion damage. It also keeps the smaller bits (like earrings) from getting separated from each other.

Pill pouch
The hero of this story is the pill baggie. They are usually sold in lots of 50-100 at many pharmacies.
earrings in pill bags
Earrings go into the smaller pill bags

It is important to close necklaces before placing them in the jewelry bag. This keeps the loose ends from getting tangled with each other. Place the necklace in the smallest bag possible. This will keep the chain from moving around and getting tangled. I’ve never had a problem with tangling using this method.

necklace closure
It’s important to close all of the necklaces. This prevents loose ends from tangling.
tiny chain necklace
Necklaces with delicate chains go into the pill sized baggies. The smaller space keeps the chain from tangling.
bulky necklace
Bulkier necklaces are stored in larger craft bags. This protects the necklace from rubbing against other jewelry.

I avoid hard jewelry cases because they are bulky, specialized, and heavy. I use a light weight Tyvek pouch bag to hold my pieces. It weighs in at 14 grams (0.45 ounces). The entire weight of the bag filled with the jewelry listed above is 194 grams (6.85 ounces). I could lessen this weight by dumping the cuff bracelet, which is easily the heaviest item. Without the cuff bracelet my bag weighs 153 grams (5.4 ounces).

Jewelry bag
This Tyvek bag weighs in at 14 grams. It is a good size for storing jewelry or other smaller items.

I put the jewelry bag into my hard-shell sunglasses case, which I’m already packing. Dual function for everything! The jewelry is now protected from most damage. More importantly, it is collected in one place so that the pieces don’t get lost.

Jewelry bag in glasses case
The jewelry bag fits in the space behind my sunglasses!

I’ve been using this method for years and am fairly happy with how it works. Do you have any light weight jewelry travel tips?