“Pack It Up” expert Anne McAlpin shares her story and how Oprah played a part in her success

Anne McAlpin

Travel expert Anne McAlpin, author of “Pack It Up: Travel Smart, Pack Light!”

The travel bug bit Anne McAlpin at age 16, when she spent six weeks cycling through Europe. It was her first experience with overpacking, as she and her fellow students had to pack all they needed in their bike bags. “I ended up shipping some items home,” she says, “at great expense. It was not only my first experience with overpacking, it was one of my last.”

Anne with her niece, McKenna, on their way to Europe.

Anne with her niece, McKenna, on their way to Europe.

She attributes her grandmother, who believed travel was the best education and arranged her trip, with instilling within her a love of travel. “She did the same for my three sisters when they turned 16, and I am carrying on the tradition with my nieces and nephews.”

Anne seized the opportunity to spend her junior year of college in Europe studying European history and languages, and after graduating the following year she immediately applied for a job with a cruise line. “I was a fan of The Love Boat TV show,” she reveals, “and my father was a sea captain, so I grew up with stories of life at sea.”

She was working as an activity director aboard a cruise liner when she first developed a seminar for cruise guests on packing tips and how to get it all home. “I noticed how much luggage came aboard with passengers and how much of it was unnecessary,” she explains. “After a year or so of doing the weekly seminars, I wrote my book, Pack it Up: Travel Smart, Pack Light, first published in 1990.”

After working aboard ships for several years and being able to travel the world at the same time, she later worked in the corporate offices of major cruise lines, while continuing to build her business as a packing expert.

Enter Oprah Winfrey.

A life-changing event: appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show

“I decided to send a copy of my book to The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Anne says, “and two days later I got a call from the producers, asking me to be in Chicago a few days later to tape a show called ‘The Best of Everything.’ I would be billed as the ‘world’s best packer.’”

Anne and I at the 2015 AAA Vacation Planning Expo in Indianapolis.

After her appearance on the show in 1999, her book sold out on Amazon overnight, emails and calls came in from all over the world, and Anne realized sharing her packing expertise could become her full-time job.

Since then, Anne has been a guest on The View, CNN, The Today Show, Rachael Ray, HGTV, and more. She remains in demand as a keynote speaker, traveling more than 100 days a year, averaging 12 flights each month. To date, she has visited 74 countries on six continents. In between trips, she can be found sipping coffee on the porch of her home in Jacksonville, Oregon.

She is also an AAA affiliated speaker, appearing at many AAA travel shows throughout the country, and continues to travel the world, both for business and pleasure.


Anne at a chateau, visited on a recent river cruise through Bordeaux, France.

Anne has just returned from Bordeaux, where she experienced her first river cruise on Uniworld’s River Royale. One of the highlights? “River cruising is casual so packing light was a breeze!”

This post is the first in a series of blogs with packing tips and travel advice from Anne, whose travel mantra has become:

“If you want to get away from it all, don’t take it all with you!”

The newest (2014) edition of Anne’s book and companion DVD, Pack it Up: Travel Smart, Pack Light, is available on Amazon. Anne’s Pack It Up website, is at PackitUp.com

Watch for upcoming posts, where you’ll learn:

  • What to pack for a tropical trip, including smart tips for cruising and sun protection clothing.
  • How to pack smart and travel light, including step-by-step packing instructions for a 22” carry-on, personal item (second carry-on), and the quart-sized bag.
  • Anne’s favorite travel apps and gadgets.
  • Anne’s top tips for packing for a river cruise.
  • How to shop for new luggage. Lightweight is the key word!
  • Safety secrets for women traveling solo, and opportunities to “travel with Anne.”

2 Comments on ““Pack It Up” expert Anne McAlpin shares her story and how Oprah played a part in her success

  1. Awesome article. I would like to be like Anne, giving travel skills talks. This is a starter model for what I might do!

  2. Pingback: Tropical packing tips from expert Anne McAlpin, packitup.com – Tropical Travel Girl

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