Overpacking: How to Avoid It

Stuffed-Luggage2-2560x1055Overpacking? Guilty. I travel constantly, incessantly. For years I’ve lived out of a suitcase and yet, I still fall victim to overpacking. I envision myself nimbly skipping out of the airport and onto the train, hopping from bus to bus, and walking up and down narrow cobblestone streets with nothing but a Venturesafe 100 fanny pack. It feels freeing. But that’s never what happens. Instead I end up with four pair of identical looking jeans, a pair of just in case high heels that I never wear, and the entire collected works of Dostoevsky that I’ve been meaning to check off my reading list for…oh, I don’t know…forever.

Inevitably I end up wearing the same outfit for a week and all of my contingency items remain in my suitcase except for the numerous novels that I eventually leave in a hotel lobby because I can’t bear the thought of schlepping them up one more staircase. Here’s how to avoid being like me.

Don’t Leave Packing To the Last Minute
I’m a notorious last-minute packer. I like to wait till five minutes before we’re leaving the house and then throw random belongings into a bag in a frenzy. This is how I end up with three times more than I actually need. Start packing in advance. Let everything sit for a day. Go back and cut what you have in half. If you can, do it again. Do you need a hair dryer? Probably not. Four pair of shoes? Unlikely. All of those electronics? I don’t think so.

Pack Multiple Use Pieces
Instead of three different sweaters, why don’t you just bring one sweater that works with everything? Yes, it’s hard to predict exactly what you’re going to need, but if you can find items that can work in multiple situations, you’ll make your life a lot easier.

Invest in Travel Organizers
Investing in luggage with plenty of compartments as well as separate travel organizer pouches or cubes can help keep things well-packed and reduce your chance of overpacking. It also makes it a lot easier to sort through things when you’re bouncing from hotel to hotel while living out of a suitcase. Dumping the entire contents of your suitcase on the floor every time you need to find something gets old pretty quickly.

Lightweight Travel Clothing
I love jeans, but when I’m traveling I limit myself to one pair. They’re bulky, not especially comfortable, and they take ages to dry. Stick with lightweight and packable pants. If you’re thinking lightweight pants won’t work in the winter, pack a pair of tights, and think again.

3299165539_60762177ca_bNo Books
Don’t bring more than one if you bring any at all. If anyone understands a book lover’s inability to separate from the idea of having a dozen delicious literary texts and the opportunity to read them uninterrupted for hours, it’s me. However, as someone who once brought six books on a trip to a small fishing village in Mexico and then only read half of one because I had underestimated how busy we would be just exploring, I’m telling you to leave the books at home or invest in a Kindle or iPad. You’ll hate me now, but your back and shoulders will be thanking me later. Books are heavy and they only get heavier when you’re wandering around searching for your hotel.

Hire a Porter
If you simply can’t beat the overpacking habit then hire a porter. You’re going to need one.

By Nikki Hodgson

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