If helping other people pack for long trips was a legit profession, I’d quit my job right now and pursue that.
I love packing. It’s like physical, real-life Tetris.
On my 11-day road trip, I took one little yellow suitcase and a backpack. And I’m taking the same exact bag and backpack for my two week long trip to Thailand.
Ever come home from a vacation, start unpacking (after an outrageous amount of time, of course) and realize that you didn’t wear more than half the sh*t you brought with you?
Apparently, nine out of ten women never wear all the clothes they pack on a vacation. Sound like you? We’ve all done it.
Overpacking is easy to do when you have no idea what expect. Maybe you’re more comfortable traveling with all of your favorite clothes. Maybe you want options. You need to be ready for anything! I get it.
Lugging around an overstuffed suitcase when traveling isn’t fun. How can you truly get the most out of traveling when there’s a giant bag weighing you down?
I’m going to Thailand with my mom this Thursday night, so we started packing just a couple of days ago. I’m going for two weeks, but she’ll be gone for two months traveling to Bali, Japan, and Israel. I know. I’m jealous too.
Needless to say, the packing process for her was stressful.
She started off with a giant orange suitcase that could probably serve as a bathtub for my dog. On top of that, she also had several carry-on bag options, which she planned on filling with even more clothes.
After a half hour of discussing each item, everything necessary fit into two carry-on items. A huge improvement. The orange suitcase was hideous anyway, and should be left at home.
Here are the three things I kept telling her when re-packing for her long trip.
If you say you “could” wear it, it’s not coming with you.
My mom pulled out so many “options” from her clothes pile.
“Well, I could wear this,” she said about every other item.
I told her, if there’s no actual purpose for the garment, leave it at home. Options aren’t necessary. They’re just options! And chances are, you’ll end up wearing what you only want to wear.
It’s best to bring the clothes you know you’re going to love having when you’re abroad. Stick with your go-to shirts, shorts, sweaters and jeans.
Be strategic about outfits to save space.
Because she would be attending a fancy three-day conference in the middle of her trip, my mom needed some nicer clothes.
My advice is plan outfits strategically, meaning bring pieces you can easily mix and match. Maybe one of your bottoms (skirt/pants) goes with two or three different tops. No one is going to care or notice if you repeat some clothes.
Of course, when it comes to shoes the same thing applies. Don’t bring an outfit that only goes with one particular pair of shoes. You’ll want outfits to coordinate with a pair you can wear several times during your trip.
My mom had way too many dresses packed too. I told her only to bring the multi-purpose ones, meaning what she could wear during the day or night.
For one week of travel, the only thing you need seven of is underwear.
When traveling for more than a week, laundry will have to happen. Do yourself a favor and leave dry-clean only stuff at home.
The one thing my mom had way too much of was tank tops. She had over ten regular tank tops of different colors. We whittled it down to just three her favorite and most essential ones.
When it comes to packing, less is more. You only need one of each “thing.” One pair of denim shorts. One hoodie. One pair of sneakers.
Having a light suitcase means having a lighter heart. You get to worry about less.
The best part? No checking bags. When my mom and I fly to Thailand, which involves stopovers there and back, we won’t have to worry about lost luggage or waiting for it to arrive when we land. My groggy, jet-lagged self is going to thank me later for not checking a bag. Coming off a long flight, all you want is a shower and a bed as soon as possible.
Of course, there are many other hacks, tricks and tips for packing. My other favorites are rolling up clothes super tight, stuffing things in Ziplock bags and bringing tiny airplane sized toiletries. If anything, I’ve trained myself to under-pack, but at least I get to leave the giant suitcase at home.