How To Properly Pack A Suitcase The Schmutzie Way

Ever since I was a little kid, I tend to pack the things that I like before I go on a trip rather than everything I actually need. This is problematic when, because I find neither toothbrushes nor underwear all that interesting, I end up spending a week up in the woods with hairy teeth and my jeans crawling all up into my areas.

For example, the first time I packed a suitcase for myself, I was five years old. I had this life plan for myself at the time that I was going to move into my own apartment and get a tattoo and become a truck driver. Isn’t that what any five-year-old plans to do? Of course it is.  When I finally packed my small cardboard suitcase for my grand exodus into a new life, I packed everything I thought I would need to make a go of it: one dead chicken foot.

One dead chicken foot does not prepare one for a sound future.

Fast forward years and, although my packing skills greatly improved with maturity, I continued to miss important items every time I went somewhere. I forgot my toiletries. I ended up having to go barefoot in shoes in the middle of winter. I didn’t pack any extra pants and had to sponge-clean my jeans as best I could while hoping that my semi-hobo appearance looked like an intentional thing.

Then I hit upon the answer to my packing problem while overhearing a children’s show on television one afternoon.

Schmutzie’s Prescription for Successful Packing

Sing Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes repeatedly while you pack. It will be nightmarishly reminiscent of old Barney episodes. Go into denial.

Head: this category includes all head-related items from eyeglasses to hair products to tweezers.

Shoulders: The shoulders category is about the shoulders and surrounding areas, so it’s a reminder for you to pack shirts, bras, scarves, and the like. DON’T FORGET THAT IT ALSO INCLUDES YOUR ARMPITS. Don’t forget the armpits. Many a holiday I’ve taken has been flavoured with the scent of overpriced, unfamiliar deodorants, and one particular holiday was accompanied by a stinging lavender-scented rash.

Knees: The knees category, which is not solely knees specific, because that would just be weird, reminds you to bring pants and skirts and underwear. Say it with me now: underwear, underwear, underwear, underwear, underwear, underwear, underwear. UNDERWEAR.

Toes: Socks. A second pair of shoes. Fungicide. Whatever your tootsies need to be happy.

Ears, Eyes, Mouth, and Nose drive home the particulars of your daily hygiene and beauty regimen in case you weren’t very thorough with the Head category, because when you forget your contact lens case and solution, shot glasses and tap water just don’t cut it.

By the time you’re done packing, you will probably have sung approximately twenty-five rounds of Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, which will make your neighbors think it’s getting just a little What-Ever-Happened-To-Baby-Jane in your house, but screw ‘em. You will have the deep satisfaction of knowing that your trip will be free of unnecessary chin hair, body odor, fusty jeans, and cold feet.

About Schmutzie

Schmutzie can most commonly be found at, but she's also the founder of Ninjamatics and the Grace in Small Things social network in her ongoing efforts to make stuff on the internet and spread things that don't suck.

She gets social on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and StumbleUpon.


  1. Melissa says:

    “…make your neighbors think it’s getting just a little What-Ever-Happened-To-Baby-Jane in your house…” LOL

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  2. Virginia says:

    I should try this next time I have to pack. I usually make lists and then make sure I get everything on the list but after 10 revisions to said list I still forget something. Though I never forget underwear, it’s the first thing on the list every time and I pack double the amount I actually need after one unfortunate trip which involved me being thrown into a pool, fully clothed… and later getting an entire platter full of drinks knocked onto my lap a restaurant.

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    • schmutzie says:

      You are absolutely right about the extra underwear. I’ve made the mistake of packing just enough more than once and have spent part of my time away going commando and hoping my pants don’t rip.

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  3. palinode says:

    Lavender-scented rash… the most romantic and alluring of all the rashes.

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  4. Jessica Bern says:

    I overpack . I’m of the “you never know” world and God damn if I never wear everything I bring, ever.

  5. Very cool idea. I usually sing the one about knowing an old lady who swallowed a fly (perhaps she’ll die). When I get to the part where she consumes a horse, that’s when I know I’ve packed too many clothes.

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  6. BetaDad says:

    That is ingenious! I usually just chant, “Socks, underwear, pants, shirts” with no discernible tune. I almost always manage to forget my toothbrush, even though I’ve gotten to the point where it’s the only toiletry I need. Unless I’m going away for over two weeks, in which case I bring a razor as well.

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  7. Kat C says:

    oh lawd this speaks to me.

    I have to get better at packing. For Blissdom I brought 3 dresses and only wore 1! But I ended up having to buy socks at that store where everything was bedazzled. I have a 2 day trip to Orlando at the end of the month and my goal is to only take carry on. Yikes. I can do it, right?

  8. schmutzie says:

    You can do it!

    One tip I have it to wear the bulkier items on the plane to make room.

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