For organization lovers like us, packing for a vacation is arguably the start of vacation. Choosing the right outfit for every occasion, from a day out hiking to an evening at a 5-star Michelin-rated restaurant, is all part of the fun if you ask us.
But let’s be honest: We are the first to admit that over packing is far too easy, even if you’re just going away for the weekend.
What if it gets cold? What if it rains? What if I regret not bringing my boots? What if something gets dirty?
All those “what ifs” are how we end up staring at an empty suitcase on one side of the bed and an enormous pile of clothes and shoes on the other, wondering how we’re going to make it all fit.
Between airline bag charges, small trunks, and worries about an unknown destination, it’s a lot to think about. But here’s another what if — what if you could pack what only what you’ll truly need and get it to fit nicely inside an even smaller suitcase without having to sit on it to get it closed?
Even more than living with less, traveling with less is truly an art. But if you follow these tips and tricks, you might find yourself doing more sightseeing and less schlepping.
Tip 1: Leave the big bags in storage
Instead of hauling out the largest suitcase you can find, pick a smaller one to begin with. Tell yourself that’s all the room you have — if something doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go. One way to narrow down your wardrobe is to write out your itinerary and pick out one outfit for each day. If you have room left over, don’t be tempted to fill it up. Instead, consider it space for bringing home a few mementos.
Tip 2: Lose your shoes
Shoes can be a real space killer, especially if you start packing a pair to go with every potential outfit. To save space, only pack shoes that can be used for more than one occasion. Consider one pair of walking shoes, one pair of flip-flops (or boots), and one pair of special-occasion shoes only if you know you’ll need them.
Tip 3: Versatility is everything
If your shoes can work on more than one occasion, your clothes should, too. Pack your favorite skirt, pair of shorts or jeans, and a handful of tops that match. Sundresses can work for day or evening just by adding a lightweight sweater or a few accessories. If you’re heading for a colder climate, coordinate a few pieces of outerwear as well. You can also find a variety of clothing specifically made to be worn more than one way. Aim for a travel wardrobe that’s 100% mix-and-match. (Think of it like capsule wardrobe that literally fits in capsule.)
Tip 4: Use travel-sized everything
If you’re staying at a hotel, your first task is to find out what toiletries and accessories come with the room. If they provide it — don’t bring it. For the rest, you can find almost anything in travel-sized these days, including deodorant, hairspray, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion and Febreze, just to name a few. If you get creative, you can even go travel-sized with your clothing — foldable ballet flats, sarongs, and even some of the warmest winter coats available can be rolled right up and stuffed in a corner of your bag.
And, if all else fails, always remember that, unless you’re headed into the woods for two weeks, you’ll likely always be near a store that sells whatever you need.
What are your packing light strategies? Share with us in the comments!