There are those of us who are natural-born packers and those of us who get anxiety anytime we pull out a suitcase. Despite the fact I've logged over 100,000 miles in on the road the past few years, I've long been a part of the anxious group.
As a professional traveler, I always blush at the fact that packing has always been a pain. I chalk it up to being Type A and alwasy wanting the right outfit for every situation. Well, this last year, I overcame my packing anxiety and learned a thing or ten.
Here are my tips for overcoming overpacking once and for all:
Oh, and FYI, this list is particular to a long haul trip but I think you’ll find it helpful even if you’re headed on a weekend away.
Make sure the luggage you’re starting with is as lightweight as possible — it’ll make carting your luggage easier and it’ll give you more leeway on how much you can pack (or buy on the road)! Know that there are a lot of lesser-quality lightweight luggage out there. I'd recommend buying a super high quality piece by Tumi or Briggs & Riley because they're better built and have great warranties.
In an effort to pack things I’ll actually wear, I pick a base color combo for my trip and stick with it. Sometimes that’s an all-black look, other times all-neutral, or simply greys, but the base combo must be something that’s very mix and match-able. Then I add in pops of color or pattern while always making sure it ties back to that base color.
RULE OF THREE (OR FOUR)
No matter how much I love a particular pair of pants or a dress, it simply can’t come with me unless it meets the rule of three. The rule is as simple as this: an item must be able to be worn at least three times (four times for a longer trip) — without wrinkling excessively, showing major stains, or looking sloppy — or it can’t come with.
ROLL IT UP
In the great debate of rolling versus folding luggage, I fall squarely in the rolling category. My best friend taught me this trick in high school and I’ve never gone back. It’s as simple as rolling items instead of folding them and it makes for clothes that are less wrinkled and easier to identify within a suitcase.
USE SHOE BAGS
Seriously, it’s just gross to have the dirty soles of shoes mixing together with clean clothes. I mean, I don’t even want to know what’s on the bottom of those things; that’s why I have some designated shoe bags to keep things tidy.
BAGS IN BAGS IN BAGS
Speaking of bags, I’m all about using them — for everything from my lingerie to my scarves to electronics and jewelry. So more than packing things in luggage, I have a Russian nesting doll situation with bags inside of bags inside of bags. I particularly like using compression packs to make the most of my space but any bags will do. This habit is probably a holdover from my backpacking trips in high school but it help keep things organized and easy to find.
MINIMIZE THE MAKEUP
Look, I love a good Sephora binge as much as the next girl but taking your whole makeup bag with you when you travel is a big no. Not only will it weight you down but also you might lose or break your favorite eye palette (or worse yet, have your lipsticks melt in tropic weather). Instead, pack one versatile look. I start by deciding on a very stripped-down night look (just foundation, a cheek, shadow, liner, mascara, and a lip) and then adding two more lip colors that will work for day or night.
BUY A SCALE (OR LUGGAGE WITH A SCALE)
After you’ve gone through all the trouble of packing, make sure your luggage is underweight. You'll probably want to treat yourself to a souvenir (or two) so make sure your luggage can handle it without tipping the scales. You can use this REI Digital Scale to weigh luggage so there are no surprises at the airport. Or, if you're looking to buy new luggage, look into the new generation smart luggage like Raden, which not only weighs itself but also has two built-in chargers and location technology to help you find it at baggage claim.
WEAR THE BULK
Anything that’s bulky or heavy — like a winter coat, bulky wedges, or a blanket-sized sweater — goes on my person for the plane ride. That way I can still bring it but it won’t take up a ton of precious luggage space.
CARRY A BACK UP OUTFIT
In the spirit of your mother telling you to always wear clean underwear, this one is an all-essential travel tip. If there’s any chance at all your luggage might be lost (meaning always), make sure you pack at least one change of clothes. That way, if you’re luggage is actually lost, you’ll still look decent — so you feel good even if you’re frustrated as hell.
AND A BACK UP BAG
I've learned the hard way to always always always pack one extra tote bag in our suitcase just in case. As in just in case we overshop, in case we want to go to the farmers market and have a legit bag for our purchases, or in case we can't manage to pack all our stuff back into our luggage like it was when we left home (you know you've been there — admit it).
BONUS TIP: CARRY-ON THE RIGHT WAY
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