I’ll admit, I’m sensitive about packing. I’ve moved more times in my life than most people have – on average, every 3.5 years I’m putting my life into boxes and dragging it to another location. So you’d think simplification – especially when I’m just travelling for a few days – would be easy for me, right?
I’ve packed only essentials and I’ve overpacked more than I care to admit. Because overpacking is just as easy, if not easier, than packing only what you need. If I had to guess, I’d say the majority of people who travel also overpack. After all, who doesn’t want options? Shoe options, clothing options. Then there’s activewear, because you might want to exercise. Then there’s all those little things that you might need for a rainy day.
And you only wind up using half of it. If that.
So what can you do? Well, here are a few simple steps you can take. I do these things when I pack, and I’ve been on vacation for a month on two separate occasions. This applies to short term travel or long term travel.
- Make a list. This seems painfully obvious to me but probably the most important thing you can do is make a list of what you need to take with you. This includes toiletries, dress clothes, casual clothes, shoes, accessories, entertainment items, activewear and sleepwear. For me. I don’t know how you vacation. Itemizing everything might help you to see that you don’t need a bunch of stuff you just added to your list. But it can also backfire because…
- You like options. That’s great. Don’t take them with you. Obviously I’m not telling you to take one outfit with you and wear it everyday for an extended period of time. But think about how often you change your clothes when you’re at home. Do you really wear five outfits in the same day?
- Army roll everything. It makes everything neat, uniform, and it saves space. And if you go looking for something at the bottom of your suitcase, chaos doesn’t ensue when you have to put everything else back. I found this video on how to roll everything and fit it into a packing cube, and this idea is my new best friend.
- Pack only what you need for up to a week. This is my favorite thing to do, especially for extended travel. I pack what I need for a week as far as clothing is concerned, and then I just wash and repeat.
- Your day trip list should be short. So short in fact that you might not even need a list. If you’re going for a day trip, the most you’ll need is an overnight bag and three outfits. One to sleep in, one to wear the next day and one just in case. Or you can sleep in what you traveled in to save an outfit.
- Don’t pack things you haven’t used in forever. I once packed six medications that I rarely ever take for migraines and pain, because ‘something might happen’. They sat in the front of my suitcase taking up space I could’ve used for something else. I never used one of them. Don’t do this.
- Be realistic about what you need. If you rarely ever exercise, you probably won’t need an activewear outfit for every day you’re on vacation. It also helps to pack smart: you don’t really need a pair of shoes for every outfit. That’s a myth made up by wealthy people.
- Remember that if you don’t have it, you can’t use it. It’s so hard for me not to pack entertainment items, like handheld games or books, because I want to have something to occupy my time. But realistically I’m not going to use these items, even if I fully intend to. Whatever you normally do to get through the dead space in your day, you’ll probably be doing that on vacation. One book is probably all you’ll need.
- Actually use what you pack. If you take your laptop with you, use it. Otherwise it’s a waste. My determination is to use absolutely everything I pack. The things I don’t use, I mark down when I get home, so I don’t pack them again the next time I travel.
- It’s actually okay to overpack some things. Imo, you can never take too many pairs of underwear on vacation with you, especially if you’re a woman (and you know why). You never know what will happen. Decide what that thing is for you and take extra.
What do you overpack?