“Babe,” he says. “We’re just going for the weekend, it’s three days. Do you really need to check a bag?”
Are you a chronic overpacker? Ever tried to get a handle on it? It’s more a curse than a compliment, succumbing to the tyranny of the ‘what-if-I-need-its.’ Those carefree carry-on-only people, the cool kids dexterously wheeling around duty-free with their tiny bag and practically skipping past baggage claim; I had always wanted to be one of them. They’re checking into their hotel and sipping complimentary Veuve while the rest of us are still waiting for the gaping maw of the luggage belt to spit out our manhandled bags full of …what exactly? Stuff we won’t wear. Stuff we don’t need. Stuff that literally weighs us down. This year, I’ve finally done it, and you can too. Embrace it, less is more. (Except when it comes to diamonds. And dogs.)
- 1. This sounds totally obvious, right? But, do you check the weather before you go? It’s shocking how many people don’t think to, and with this one easy task, you’re already on the road to winning. If you don’t, you really need to get on that. Cold weather means layering. Leave the thick sweaters at home, they’re space hogs. Invest in quality pieces that will serve you; think luxe and space saving merino, cashmere and even silk for keeping you comfy and looking fabulously chic and unrumpled. They’ll fit into your carry-on, they’ll last forever, and they’ll never let you down. Taking a coat? Wear your bulkiest item on the plane. When it’s on your person, it’s not taking up valuable real estate in your Tumi. Conversely, if you’re traveling to a warm weather destination, you’re ahead of the game as your wardrobe won’t take up as much space. Just don’t be tempted to sneak extra stuff in your bag simply because you have room. Layering works in warm climates, too.
- 2. Accessories, y’all. Embrace the accessories. They take up so much less space than clothes do. Worried about wearing the same outfit twice in your photos? Add a statement necklace, a bold cuff or some kick-ass earrings to what you’ve got on. This clever chicanery can also take your slate grey cashmere cowl neck from sightseeing during the day to that raging new tapas venue at night. One of my most clever friends consistently packs solid tops and a selection of scarves that she uses to change up her look. She never looks anything less than chic and perfectly put-together.
- 3. Clear off your bed and start with a blank slate where you can lay out what you’re taking. Think of it as your own little flatlay sans the Instagram photo pressure. Consider any activities you’ll be enjoying and make sure you’re equipped for those. Are you a gym person? Are you attending a fancy dinner? Going to the pool? Will you be lounging leisurely in your comfies? Pack accordingly. Once that’s taken care of, think about basics like socks, undergarments and PJ’s. You’ll notice your bag is getting filled. Now shoes…. shoes are always a slippery slope, but important. Think about what you’ll be doing and be honest with yourself. You’re not going to wear your Rockstud ankle straps on the Camino trail and you know it so leave them home. For a long weekend trip, two pair of shoes, max. Taking boots? Again, wear those puppies on the plane. A pair of smartly fitted jeans will take you places, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Go for something with stretch and a dark wash and you’re covered for most every occasion- except Wimbledon (poor Meghan). If you wear one pair, you only need to take one other pair.
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money“-Susan Heller
- 4. Downsize your toiletries. Invest in high quality small tubes for your must haves. Nalgene bottles from camping stores are terrific and BPA free. Another great choice is the GoToob range. They’ve introduced a new 1.8 oz (53 ml) size which is super handy. Remember, you’ll need to follow the 3-1-1 rule: 3.4 oz (100ml) bottle or less; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. Just because the limit is 3.4 oz. (100ml) doesn’t mean you need to get bottles that big, and I recommend you don’t. Get them smaller so you can fit everything in the bag, and take advantage of the amenities at your accommodation. Use their soap, use their shampoo: It’s just a few nights. Also, keep that little bag packed so it’s ready to grab when you go.
- 5. Now, this. I’m about to tell on myself. This hack is really a psychological cushion to help you trust in the process of taking a smaller bag, and for some reason, it makes the carry-on-club just that much easier to join. Add an empty packable duffle and extra lock into your carry on, because maybe you’ll want to have a little shopa-roonie while you’re away and bring back some treasures from your trip. If you do, you’ve got something to put it in, and if you don’t? Well, you’ve not lost anything by being prepared.
So, tell us, fellow traveler, are you a reformed overpacker? What about technique, do you fold or roll? Have you jumped on the packing cube bandwagon?