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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Survive with Fewer Things When You Travel

What if I want woolly socks?
What if I want to wear a Hawaiian shirt?
What if I need extra boots?
What if I need more pajamas?
What if I'm asked to a gala and I don't have a tuxedo?
What if I go sailing and don't have the proper shoes?
What if I want to go spelunking and I don't have ropes?
Will people know where I'm from? Better pack four or five more Oregon shirts!


Yes, some of these questions are totally ridiculous, but if you're an overpacker, it might be hard to figure out which ones. This post was really inspired by my husband who was coming up with outrageous reasons one would need to have a bag they could fit into if they weren't moving to a new country. Every time I go to the airport, I tend to see at least one or two ladies (and sometimes guys) hauling a bag so large that if it didn't have wheels, they wouldn't have gotten it out of the house. It always makes me wonder what on Earth they could possibly have in there and need for a normal vacation. 

Eric calls it overpacking due to a fear-based lifestyle. All those 'what-ifs' up there were his (joking) way of identifying an overpacker's train of thought before traveling and when they purchase said huge suitcase. I used to be a chronic overpacker, but I never had a suitcase that I could live in. So, what causes people to pack so much they need such a large bag? Are they uncomfortable with leaving home? Do they worry what will happen if they don't bring half their house with them? Do they freak out if they forget something and then have to figure out where to get it in a foreign place? I have no idea, but what I do know is that not having all your creature comforts is part of the wonderful things about travel. Bring the bare minimum of stuff you need to be comfortable and feel free from your other belongings. 


Here I am with everything (minus my purse) that we brought with us for a two-week vacation. That's not just my stuff, that's our stuff. I don't want to bog myself down with too many bag or heavy bags or have so much from home that I never need to leave my room. The only things I brought that were not totally necessary was a movie I had from Netflix (for downtime) and a bag of tea, sweeteners, oatmeal and rink packets. I could have purchased these at my destination, but they took up little space and it was more about convenience. I don't need a whole box of sleepy time tea or a huge thing of sugar/sweetener when I travel. I might need these things in transit and not everyday, so I don't want to waste money at the store buying them with my normal trip purchases (usually eggs, bread, butter, bananas and milk).

Maybe some travelers feel like so much a fish out of water when they are in a new place that they feel they need to feel like they're at home to enjoy their trip. I'm not sure. I just know that it's much easier to be comfortable in a new place, to me, if I get out and see what the locals are doing and get a lay of the land. I don't expect my destination to be like home, nor do I want it to be, otherwise, why travel at all? I choose some of my favorite pieces to travel with, a few pair of good shoes and a couple optional articles, like some accessories I love, a scarf and a packable jacket I may need if it gets chilly. Enough to feel like myself, but not so much that I feel overwhelmed by everything I've packed and that it all is appropriate for the activities I have planned. I don't need a sparkly dress with me if I know I will mostly be visiting museums. I also don't need high heels for walking miles and miles everyday.


Think about what you'll be doing and not so much the "what ifs', because, chances are, you may not even get to everything on your list of things to do, much less those what if opportunities. After walking for 8 or more hours during the day, are you really going to want to put on some fancy shoes that are barely comfortable for an hour when you have just been sitting on your couch all day? Bring some flats or wedges that are cute, but go with everything you have brought with you, so you can look dressed up and not want to cut off your feet.

In lieu of a formal dress, that you may only wear once (if that), why not pack a pair of black jeans? Not only will they work for everyday wear, but can look dressy and work with any number of different tops. Of course, if you travel with an LBD that you wear during sightseeing (I have a great one from Lucy), then you can dress it up with a few well-placed accessories to take it from day to night, like I did with this GoLite dress.

The more you think about it, the easier it is to travel lighter and still have many of your favorite items with you on your trips so you aren't feeling so much like you're out of your element and not quite yourself. You can still have a clothes personality with fewer items. For more help on how to stretch your wardrobe, check out this post. Figure out what you absolutely can't live without - maybe it's simple and useful like your iPad, maybe it's something more basic and personal like your fuzzy slippers - and then leave the rest at home. For me, it's my iPad mini, netbook (gotta stay connected), warm socks or booties for the room and a few random snacks from home.

What can't you live without when you travel? 
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