Confession time: I used to be a serial overpacker. My mum still talks about that time when I was eleven and I packed 22 nail polishes for a two week trip to France (one for each nail + a top coat and base coat, duh). But these days, I am reformed, I’m a whole new person when it comes to packing. Mostly, because I’m pretty lazy, and don’t want to carry heavy bags, but the reason isn’t what’s important here. For my recent trip to the States I took one checked bag and one carry on, both of which had room for shopping, and everything I packed I used – no mean feat! If anything, I potentially underpacked, I could have done with a second pair of jeans. But in anycase, I thought I’d share my tips to help you avoid overpacking, from one former over packer to another.
Before you pack, plan. Where are you going, what are you doing, what will the weather be like? If you’re spending a week on the beach, you probably don’t need a pair of jeans, but if you’re headed on a work trip, you probably won’t need a bikini. Figure out what sort of events you’ll need to dress for, and plan what sort of clothes you’ll need.
Start setting aside the clothes you want to wear a few weeks before you travel. Or a few days before if it’s a short trip. I usually hang things I know I’ll want to take at one end of my wardrobe, so I can see them and so I don’t accidentally wear them in the days before I travel. If you start moving a few pieces over every few days, when it comes to packing you’ll have a general idea of what outfits you want to wear, and any gaps you might have.
Stop saying just in case. I used to be the worst for chucking things into my suitcase ‘just in case’. No one has ever needed formal eveningwear in New Orleans, and I’m never going to wake up one morning on holiday and fancy going to the gym. If you take out all the ‘just in case’, you’ll be amazed at how much more room you have.
Think about what you realistically wear in that time frame. Do you honestly change your bra every day? Do you normally wear three pairs of pyjamas in a week? Are you likely to wear three skirts in January? We have a habit of packing more clothes than we could feasibly wear, when in reality, I’m sat here wondering when the last day I didn’t wear this exact pair of jeans was. You don’t need ten tshirts for a seven day trip, and when was the last time you pooped your pants four times on holiday, and required four extra pairs of knickers?
Stress less. Unless you’re headed to the North Pole, providing you have your passport + wallet you’ll be just fine. If something pops up you aren’t prepared for, you can always pick something up out there!
Are you an overpacker?