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Saturday, March 12, 2022

How To Quit Overpacking

So, I'm a recovering overpacker. I've learned how to pack less over the years and still I feel like I pack too much whenever I travel. You can totally learn to pack less and enjoy the freedom of spending less (time and money) at the airport and of going from plane to trip without a visit to the carousel. Here's what you need to do:

You can learn to pack less and enjoy the freedom of spending less (time and money) at the airport and of going from plane to trip. Here's how.
This is all I took for 5 days in Vegas. It would have been smaller, but I took my laptop.

Commit, commit, commit 
Say you're not going to overpack and don't just give up because it's too hard. Commit to it and eventually it'll become second nature.

Stop playing the "what if?" game
Don't pack for worst case scenarios. Pack for what will probably happen. Going somewhere warm? Pack for warm weather, but don't forget a pair of long pants, shoes that aren't flip flops, and a cardigan/long sleeve shirt, just in case. It'll probably rain. Don't pack for "if" you do this or that. Have you planned it? Then you probably won't do it. 

Make a packing list & plan ahead
This is where most people fail. Stop packing the last minute and it'll be way easier to be objective. Make a packing list before you start, print it out and see what you really need and don't need. I find this much more helpful than picking out all your stuff and then culling half of it. If my packing list all fits on one page (including my must-bring toiletries), I feel like I've done a good job, but the real test is getting it all into your carry-on.

Here's everything underneath my seat

Color coordinate
How do you know what to pack and put on your packing list? Pick a color scheme and stick with it. I generally like to go with blues or greens, but if you have neutral bottoms, then it's super easy to match with them, especially if you make them all the same color family, like blacks or tans. That way all your tops go with the bottoms and finding two pair of shoes to go with everything is super simple. Yes, I said two pair.

Start with the right size bag
Most people are trying to start with a bag that's way too big. Find a reasonable sized carry-on. One that won't be too heavy for you to lift into the overheard when it's full. If you pull out your big suitcase and give yourself the option of using it, you're going to overpack and end up checking it and wasting money (and time).

Don't be afraid of laundry
I plan my laundry days on vacation. It's not glamorous, but I'm way more happy to not break my back heaving a bag up stairs and into the trunk. I'd rather spend a couple hours over the course of a week winding down and doing a load of laundry than having too much stuff and also coming home with a bag full of dirty clothes.

I'll admit to packing and repacking my bag before I leave a few times. I use all the space possible, but I also try to only bring what I need for any given trip. It's going to take you a few trips to master it, but when you see what you've packed and not worn over and over, you'll know what to leave home next time.

Are you a chronic overpacker?

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