Are you a frequent business flyer? A corporate road warrior? A military officer or diplomat shuttling regularly between D.C. and far-flung destinations? If you travel often for work, you probably have many of your trip necessities ready to go at a moment’s notice. Are they all in one convenient place to speed your departure? With a travel closet, they could be.
What’s a travel closet? Think of a specialized area in your home designed to hold your luggage and other travel gear, as well as additional features that can help you get packed and unpacked more efficiently. Here are some of the essentials of creating one to simplify your trip planning.
If you’re remodeling your master suite, planning in a travel closet or travel section of a redone walk-in closet would be ideal. This placement puts your travel gear in the same space as the clothes, shoes and accessories you’ll be taking on your trip, making packing easier, more ergonomic and more convenient.
What can – and should – your travel closet include? At a minimum, it should be able to hold the items you take on every trip, business or pleasure, domestic or international. These should be easy to see and grab on the go, perhaps in organized bins on open shelves or in cabinetry with glass fronts.
“When space allows, I like to incorporate a deeper cabinet where overnight bags can be stored,” shares Patty Miller, a master storage designer and co-founder of Boutique Closets and Cabinetry in High Bridge, NJ. “When designing a closet for a frequent traveler, my top two must-haves are a valet rod and an island or landing zone.” This, she says, “gives the client a place to fold and organize their clothing while packing into their suitcase.”
Melissa Vance, showroom manager and designer for bespoke cabinet and design firm Studio Becker in San Francisco, is also a valet rod enthusiast. She stacks them in her clients’ closets, “installed vertically in a high and low location to simulate the top and bottom positions of an outfit, providing an extremely convenient way for the client to coordinate each travel outfit for packing. When not in use, the rods retract.”
When there isn’t room for a closet island, Vance suggests a pull-out packing table as a highly functional alternative. “In its fully open position, our packing table holds a suitcase at a comfortable height so that a client can conveniently pack within the closet space. When not in use, the table is neatly tucked away and concealed by a drawer front.”
Good lighting is very helpful for hard-working spaces like these. (The last thing you want for your upcoming presentation is to accidentally pack mismatched pieces.)
Consider including an electrical outlet and professional caliber clothing steamer for last minute touch-ups. Some homeowners like to have a washer and dryer set (or an all-in-one unit) as part of their travel closets. The dryers are typically ventless, but the washer can share the master bathroom’s plumbing lines. If a laundry set isn’t workable for your space, a hamper built into the closet can make unpacking more convenient, as well.
Another enhancement to seriously consider is a safe. “Hiding a small safe in the closet is not only a good place to keep passports,” observes Miller, “but also a convenient place to hide smaller valuables when you’re not at home.” You can also keep a small stash of foreign currency on hand if you find yourself traveling repeatedly to the same countries on short notice. This can get you a taxi from the airport to your hotel or work site if there isn’t time to get money exchanged before your trip.
Vance calls having the right closet for the professional on the go “life, luxuriously organized.” You might call it a home and travel upgrade.