Confessions of an Over Packer

Hi I’m Cara, and I have an over packing problem.

It all started innocently enough: when visiting my parents I’d lug along a carry-on bag packed to the brim. New England weather; I’d tell myself, need to be prepared for anything! Or I’d bring three bags along for a wedding weekend, because extra pairs of nude colored high heels seemed logical in case of a broken heel.

It didn’t stop there.

Heading to the gym required extra waterbottle options. I’d throw sandals into an oversized purse for a night out with friends. Planning for anything quickly snowballed into over packing everything. One would think getting stuck in a hotel elevator thanks to my ridiculous amount of luggage would be hitting rock bottom, but no, oh no, I kept packing.

It wasn’t until a recent trip to Italy that I realized how bad my over packing problem had become. I met a fellow American traveler, and was shocked to learn that she packed for her 10-day honeymoon using only her carry-on. “Oh wow! Yeah, I checked a bag…” I stammered. I had sat on my massive checked-bag to close it for my own 6-day trip. As much as I wanted to consider myself an insider while traveling in Italy, dragging 40lbs of luggage just screamed tourist.

The whole way home, her light packing expertise weighed on my mind. I decided to put my planning tendencies to good use by the time my next trip rolled around. I googled “packing light,” picked out tips that worked for me, and voila! I was ready to go with only two bags in tow.

Since then I’ve traveled more, but kept the luggage to a minimum. Controlling the urge to over pack has been a work in progress, but I’m improving. Here’s what works for me:

1) Check the Weather Forecast the Day Before Your Trip

It’s easy to blame the “New England weather” for your exploding suitcase, but the day before you head out, check the weather forecast. If you’re leaving within 24 hours, there’s a good chance that the report is accurate. Don’t plan for everything, but do plan for what’s in the forecast.

2) Roll Your Clothes

I learned this trick when packing to go on a camping trip. Fitting my clothes, shoes, and toiletries into one large backpack was daunting; however rolling the casual clothes (shirts, athletic gear, socks, and sweatshirts) eased the bag burden.

3) Pick Items that Mix and Match

Layer a sweater when wearing your favorite dress or a black t-shirt and jeans. Go without the sweater on a warmer night. Layering makes the outfits look new, while allowing you to bring your staple items, a black t-shirt, dress, and a solid pair of jeans, to be re-worn again.

4) Febreze & Other Travel Sized Wonders

Travel size toilettries are your best option. You won’t need to worry about that pesky 3.4 oz. rule, plus no wasted space from your extra large shampoo bottle. Another tip? Febreze. It comes travel sized and makes your clothes smell laundry fresh, even when they’re not.

What other tips can you share for packing light? Tell us in the comments! Have an upcoming trip? Get prepared with our packing list.

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