While in college, I decided that I was done with over-packing when traveling. I began to hate lugging around heavy suitcases when only 1/4 of the clothes were used by the end of vacation. Since then, I’ve developed a system to ensure that I don’t over-pack when going on vacation or traveling for other purposes. I now take pride when people comment, “is that all you brought with you?”. Here’s what has worked for me:
1. Pack outfits. This is the #1 tool to ensure that you aren’t over-packing. Most people can’t be bothered and just throw a bunch of shirts and pants/shorts in their suitcases. If you take a minute and match up pants/shorts with shirts, you will find that you end up eliminating some tops and bottoms that you otherwise would have packed but not worn on your trip. Disclaimer: I am not a person who plans my outfit the night before while at home. But when packing for vacation, I take the time to match up shirts/sweaters and bottoms. Seriously, this is the golden tip to not over-packing. Trust me on this one.
2. Count how many days that you will be away. Pack enough clothes for the days that you will be gone (ex: if you are away for 7 days then pack only 7 outfits) and then throw in 2 extra shirts and 2 extra pairs of underwear. You only need this amount of “extra” considering the fact that if your plane is delayed, you can wear a pair of jeans or shorts another day. Really! Also see #4 for why you don’t need more outfits than days you are gone.
3. In this day and age, the excuse “I didn’t know what the weather was like so I packed everything” doesn’t fly any longer. If you have access to internet then you can pack your suitcase according to the weather. Make sure to check current weather as well as historical weather (you can learn what the weather has been like over the last several years for the month that you will be away).
4. Remember that you will often wear clothes twice while on vacation (such as shorts or a sweater). And if you don’t already re-wear items while on vacation, I’d suggest trying it. The beauty about being on vacation is that people will likely never see you again. So wear your jeans multiple times, no one will care and you’ll save a bunch of space in your suitcase!
5. Try on your clothes before putting them in the suitcase. Doing this is especially important if there has been any weight loss or weight gain in recent months. For example, while on vacation last week, hubby was frustrated because most of the shorts that he packed no longer fit him due to weight loss. Also, this can go the opposite way. Sometimes the shorts that fit us in the summer time don’t fit quite as well when we go on vacation over the winter months. By trying on clothes before you leave you are likely to avoid packing clothing that doesn’t fit comfortably.
I encourage you to attempt to pack light for your next vacation. It is truly liberating. Happy travels!