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How To Avoid Overpacking

by SharonKurheg

You guys, I have a confession to make – I am a chronic over-packer. If we’re just going away for a day or two and I’m regulated to JUST carry-on bags, I’m usually OK. But tell me I can take a full-sized suitcase and I just pull out all the stops. I mean, if we’re scheduled to be somewhere for 5 days, I have 7 or 8 complete outfits with me, along with some extra “neutral” casual and not-so-casual clothes, plus shoes, poncho and umbrella for if it rains, casual and fancy jacket, extra “comfy” shoes in case something happens to my regular ones, and the list goes on and on.


I’m sure there’s at least a handful of you who can relate, right? 😉

Anyway, I knew there had to be a better way. So I did some Googling and these are the suggestions I think will be the most helpful…

Plan your wardrobe

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Unless you’re going on one of those trips where you don’t know your location until the last minute (kill me now), you should have a decent idea of your itinerary ahead of time, and it’s easy enough to find out what the weather is going to be while you’re there. So plan your outfits, day by day, try to coordinate so you can mix and match if needed. Keep in mind that just because you’re sightseeing during the daytime and going out to dinner at night doesn’t mean you have to change your entire outfit. Can you get away with just changing your shirt? And if you do, since you’re only going to wear that shirt for a few hours, if it doesn’t get stained, can you wear it again some other evening for a few hours? Also, rewearing clothes (especially jeans), if they haven’t gotten dirty, is no great sin and the only one who will know is you ;-).

Pack multifunctional shoes

Some casual shoes can double as “dressy casual” shoes for dinnertime (depending on location). Consider wearing flip-flops or pool shoes as slippers. And hey, can you bring just one or two pairs of neutral-color shoes for the trip instead of a different pair that matches each outfit?

Pack accessories that can work with a variety of outfits

Guys, I know if you have one black belt and one brown belt, you’re usually good to go. But ladies…coordinating scarves, jewelry, belts, etc. so you don’t have to bring “all the things” will help save space in your luggage.

Coordinate with your travel buddies

If you’re not going solo, maybe you and your traveling companions can divvy up who is bringing what. Sunscreen, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, a hairdryer, etc., can all be shared so not everyone is bringing their own.

Bring sample sizes

If coordinating with travel buddies isn’t practical, consider bringing sample sizes instead of big bottles. Two or three sample-size bottles of shampoo are still smaller than a big 15-ounce bottle.

Do laundry

Nothing saves room in your suitcase like wearing clothes more than one. Some clothes, like the aforementioned jeans, can often be worn more than once and no one will be the wiser. Otherwise, if you find a hotel that has washer/dryer facilities, or are willing to get some things dry cleaned, or can even find a laundromat near your hotel, you can wear your stuff more than once and save lots of room in your suitcases.

Don’t pack “just in case” items

If you’ve checked the weather report of wherever you’re going and there’s no chance of rain, don’t bring an umbrella. If it does rain, umbrellas are sold everywhere – you can get a new one and – tada! – you have an instant functional souvenir!

Use a pill organizer

If you’re on a lot of medication, or if you have vitamins and minerals that you like to take, having them ready in a pill organizer should take up less room than every single bottle. Take note though – if you’re traveling out of the country, it’s probably better to bring the original bottles. And as we’ve suggested a bajillion times on YMMV, ALWAYS keep ALL medications in your CARRY ON luggage.

Use electronics as a multi-tasker

Your cell phone or tablet can double, triple and quadruple as your book(s), music and maps, as well as other things. If you haven’t yet, embrace this in the interest of space.

If you MUST pack “all the things,” at least Pack smartly

  • Stuff things (socks, sunglasses, chargers, etc.) into your shoes to use up that dead space
  • Use packing cubes
  • Roll clothes to take up less space
  • Use vacuum bags to take up even less space (but be prepared to iron everything)
  • Wear or carry your heaviest clothes on the plane (especially if you’re going from a warm climate to a cold one – carry that coat!)

Good luck! And wish me luck, too! 😉

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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