Having traveled extensively over the past few months for work, and even though I am a travel professional and should know better, I have a confession to make: I am a habitual over packer. I’m certain the roots of my overpacking began with my family – you should see the volume of items that my parents bring to my home for a weekend trip, bless their hearts – and being the type-A, overachieving oldest child I am I learned, and learned well from them. Over the years I have made significant strides in reducing how much I pack for a trip (because who truly needs eight pairs of shoes for a weekend away?) but it’s a struggle every time I begin packing for a trip.
If, like me, you too are an over packer there is hope! Here are some tips for streamlining your luggage:
Use a smaller suitcase – Instead of grabbing the biggest suitcase you own, reach instead for the smallest. You will have less space you can fill so you will automatically pack less.
Don’t fill up your suitcase – Make sure you leave some free space! This will also leave room for any souvenirs you decide to bring home from your destination.
Remove half of the items that you pack for your trip – Start packing several days before you leave. Begin by choosing all of the items you think you will need. Two days before you leave, remove one quarter of the items. One day before, remove another quarter of the initial items. Voila, you’ve cut your packing in half.
Pack mix-and-match/multi-purpose items – I try to choose one base color (usually navy but black or white also work) and build my entire wardrobe around that color. This allows me to mix and match different items to make several outfits. You can also use one item for multiple occasions. Last night’s casual cotton sundress can be today’s swim suit cover up.
Accessorize to change up your outfits – A basic white t-shirt can be made to look completely different based on the necklace you put with it. Bring a variety of jewelry to help stretch your wardrobe as it takes up less space than clothing.
Pack only three pair of shoes – Y’all, this is by far the hardest rule for me to follow. I love shoes. I own way too many shoes. But I don’t need to bring all of my shoes with me every time I leave for a trip. Ladies, for warm weather destinations, limit your shoes to one pair of flip-flops, one pair of nice sandals, and a pair of wedges or heels. Guys, go for a pair of flip flops, a pair of casual sneakers (Chuck Taylors and the like), and a pair of dress shoes. The exception is if you are going to work out on vacation and then you can bring your running shoes as a fourth pair.
Don’t bring full-size toiletries – You don’t need a full-size bottle of shampoo and conditioner for a week- long vacation. No one washes their hair that much. Hit up the travel section at Target to get travel-size toiletries or invest in reusable travel-size bottles that you can fill with your products. This will free up a ton of space in your luggage.
Use packing cubes – I admit I was late to the packing cube craze. I didn’t think they would save me that much space or make unpacking at my destination significantly simpler. I was completely wrong. They eliminate unused space in your luggage because of how they fit together. I recently took a travel agent trip to Jamaica where we moved to several resorts during our stay and these were a life-saver! Not only did they save me a ton of room in my bag because they make packing so much more efficient space-wise, but when I arrived at the resort I just took the cubes out of my bag, put them in the drawers, and I was done. Each cube had different items in it and I knew exactly where everything was located. Two days later when we moved to another resort, I simply took the cubes out of the drawers and put them back in the bag, then repeated the unpacking at the next resort. Easy peasy!
I’m still a work in progress and I don’t know if I will ever be fully cured of my over packing, but I’m working on it one trip at a time. If you are also an over packer hopefully you will find some of these tips helpful the next time you pull out half of your closet for a vacation. Pack lightly, my friends!