I am an over-packer. Ever since I started using a backpack in school, I always carried one too many things that I didn’t actually need. People who have known me for a long time have said that it’s a part of who I am, that I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t carrying a backpack, or a purse, anything.
After years of travelling I’ve grown into two bad habits: choosing a big suitcase and filling it up just for the sake of it because I get too lazy to plan my packing, or packing way too many things that I won’t actually use or need and needing a big suitcase. Needless to say, it’s incredibly unpractical. It’s plain unnecessary, and all it does is give you a hard time, like that time I thought my hotel was just a walk away from the airport but I didn’t take into account that I’d be lugging my big suitcase and my carry-on through busy streets.
My real problem with packing is that I tend to overthink: What if it’s suddenly cold one day? What if it rains? What if it’s hotter than I thought? What if I also need sneakers, or sandals, or boots, or rain boots, or hiking boots, or heels? What if the jacket I packed is not warm enough, but if I leave the other one what if this one is far too hot? What if?
And so, I pack it all.
But I decided to make a change and start actually planning what I’m packing, and for the first time in my life found that I could fit a week’s clothing, with gym clothes included, in a carry-on and ditch the suitcase altogether. How did I do it, you ask? Here’s a first timer’s guide to ditching those unfortunate packing habits, and traveling light-er.
1. Pick a carry-on or a small suitcase and stick to it. I can’t tell you how many times I was sure that I could manage to fit my clothes in a carry-on and ended up switching to a regular suitcase in the end. This time I made it a competition against myself: I was not leaving until I managed to fit my clothes into that carry-on, no matter what.
2. Roll, don’t fold. Although I’ve been doing this for years, I can’t tell you how to fit your clothes into a carry-on without reiterating this point because it is the ultimate space-saver, and it will also help in keeping your clothes wrinkle-free (although you should try to pack clothes that won’t get wrinkled). Instead of stacking them up all neatly folded, roll them up and be amazed at how much space you’ll save.
3. Make your toiletries fun-sized. One of the worst mistakes you can make when packing for a trip is bringing your entire repertoire of toiletries and beauty products with you, and even worse is bringing them in their original containers which tend to be bulky and take a whole lot of space in your bag. Choose what you’ll actually need, what you’re sure the hotel won’t provide (ditch the shampoo and conditioner!), and what you know you won’t be able to find in the nearest convenience store and then make it fun-sized. Investing on a kit of airplane sized, re-fillable toiletry bottles is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
4. Limit your shoes. Shoes usually take up most of the space in a suitcase. I try to bring only 2 pairs unless a third is absolutely necessary, and always pick the ones most comfortable and that are wearable with anything. Keep it simple and practical.
5. Pick a color scheme for your trip. This is a trick I picked up from a fashion blogger whose name I sadly can’t remember but I can’t tell you just how much easier this simple hack will make it for you to pack. If you pick a color scheme, then anything you bring can be worn with everything else and you’ll have dozens of outfit options to choose from without worrying this-doesn’t-go-with-that and you’ll save tons of space by bringing only a couple items that you can mix and match.
These 5 easy tips will help you travel easier, and make packing less of a burden.
How do you save space when travelling? Tell me your best light-packing hacks in a comment below!