New York Times writer Susan Heller famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
Even when we have great intentions, it’s easy to overload our suitcases. We wind up dragging a lot of stuff around. There’s more to keep track of; it winds up being a lot of physical and mental clutter. And, of course, we wind up paying a ton of extra fees for the additional weight and luggage we travel with.
So, rather than viewing efficient packing as a practice in minimalism, take it as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need, you’re freed up to not have to lug around a bunch of extra weight, and you can put that saved money towards a special souvenir, a nice dinner out, or your next adventure.
So what are the secrets that seasoned travelers use to guarantee professional level packing? Here are our top 6:
1. Remember the 80/20 Principle — that is, 20% of what you pack will be 80% of what you actually wear. If you’re like most people, you’ve already noticed this. You pack four pairs of shoes, but you really only wear one pair every day on vacation. You pack three sweaters and a shawl that you never use, because you wind up just wearing your favorite light jacket that goes with everything you own. Cut down on extras and bring the clothes you truly plan on wearing.
2. Don’t pack for every possible situation. Pack for an average day because there’s no way you can cover every contingency. Look at the forecast, the average temps and weather for that time of year, and go with that. If there’s a freak week of rain in what’s normally a sunny season — unless you’re headed to an extremely remote area that sees few travelers, it’s very unlikely that you won’t be able to purchase a rain coat or an umbrella where you are. Plus you’ll have an extra souvenir to take home from your adventures.
3. It’s okay to do laundry. If you’re going to be gone for three weeks, pack enough clothes for one. If you’re a hardcore DIYer, almost every resort or town in the world has a laundromat or laundry service. If you’re feeling like you want a break from daily tasks and routines and you’re really looking forward to the luxury of having other people pamper you, have your clothes laundered and folded for you. It’s still often cheaper than luggage fees, and it's a vacation! Treat yourself.
4. For warmth, go with layers over bulk. Pick several thin layers with insulating, wicking fabrics (merino wool is a great one) over a big jacket. Heavier items like jackets and sweaters don’t offer the flexibility that smaller or lighter items have. They’re just hot, and when the sun comes out you have to cart around a huge coat. On the other hand, a compact zip-up fleece can roll up easily into a bag or backpack in the afternoon and then come back out again for that sunset walk on the beach.
5. Think: mix and match, simplified palette, and multi-function items. If three tops match three bottoms, you’ve got nine possible outfits. As one of our favorite travel bloggers, Fred Perotta, says: bring pieces, not outfits.
6. If you’ve got to have something bulky and heavy — wear it, don’t pack it. Hiking boots, down jacket, that awesome cable knit wool cardigan — these might very well have a great place on your trip, but they shouldn’t be in your suitcase. Wear them on the plane. You can easily pack several versatile layers for the space that one sweater would take up.
If you’re ready to pack for an adventure, I’d love to talk to you about it. I know we can find a place that’s just right for you — and I’ll even give you insider tips packing suggestions for your specific destination! You can reach me today by clicking here.