New York Times writer Susan Heller 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. And when we overload, we end up dragging around a lot of stuff we never used. When you overpack, there’s more to keep track of and you end up with a lot of clutter. Plus, if you purchase souvenirs and mementos, you could end up having to buy an additional suitcase just to get everything home which means paying an additional baggage fee. Or you might get everything in one bag when it’s time to come home but end up paying extra fees for being overweight.
So, I like to think of minimal packing as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need and you’re not lugging around a bunch of extra weight. Plus, you might be saving yourself some money in baggage fees.
So, what are the secrets that seasoned travelers use to guarantee the packing is minimal?
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 figured this out. You might think you need four pairs of shoes when you could really get by with one. You want to pack two sweaters and a poncho, but you could really get by with just your favorite jacket that goes with everything. When I’m packing for a long trip, I usually pull out of the closet everything I’d like to take. I lay it on the bed and promise myself that I’m going to at least cut it in half. And I do!! Works every time.
Don’t pack for every possible situation. Pack for an average day. There’s no way you can cover every possible weather option. Look at the forecast before you leave and go with it. If there’s a freak week of rain in what’s normally a sunny season — it’s likely you will be able to purchase a rain poncho or an umbrella while you are there. If it’s unbearably colder than expected, there’s usually a souvenir shop that has a sweat shirt you can buy. I personally like to take a rain coat that has a zip out fleece jacket lining. That gives me 3 coat options in one. I wear both together if it turns nasty cold, just the fleece if it’s just a little on the cool side and only the rain jacket if it’s warm and wet. I wear it on the plane to minimize the bulkiness in my suitcase. If it’s too hot in the airport, I roll it up and put it in my backpack (which is my personal item).
It’s okay to do laundry while you’re traveling. If you’re going to be gone for two weeks or more, try packing only enough clothes for one week. If you’re a hardcore DIYer, almost every resort, cruise ship or town in the world has a Laundromat or laundry service. If you’re feeling like you want a break from doing laundry, have your clothes laundered for you. It will probably still be cheaper than paying for an extra bag or for an overweight bag. I have gotten so that I wash my own clothes in the sink as needed. I roll them up in a towel and sit on it to get the excess water out then hang or lay it out overnight. I also try to pack only clothes that don’t wrinkle easily and are made from a material that dries fast. My favorite everyday wear are my gym workout tops. They are moisture wicking, don’t wrinkle and dry fast. And there are some really cute tops out there that don’t look like gym clothes at all!
For warmth, go with layers over bulk. If you are really concerned about being warm enough, choose to take some layers that are insulating, wicking fabrics such as thin long underwear. It’s amazing how warm those thin layers can be, and so lightweight! Heavier items like big bulky jackets and sweaters don’t offer the flexibility. They can get hot as the day goes on then you have to cart around this bulky coat. But you can run into the bathroom and slip off the long underwear and throw it in your purse or backpack. Same with the zip-up fleece – it can easily be rolled up and put in your bag for the afternoon and then pull it out again for the evening.
Think mix and match and everything the same color scheme. If three tops match three bottoms, you’ve got nine possible outfits. If everything coordinates with the same color, let’s say black for instance, you won’t need those brown shoes! As you are thinking this through, remember that it will save you a lot of room if you bring pieces of clothing, not outfits.
If it’s necessary to take something bulky and heavy — wear it, don’t pack it. A great example is hiking boots. Wear them on the plane instead of packing them. I do this a lot on long flights. I wear my heavier tennis shoes and then pack a little pair of slip-on slippers in my backpack. Once I’m settled in on the plane, I take off the tennis shoes, leave them under the seat in front of me and wear the slippers until I’m almost there. Then I change them back.
I have lots of hints on how to pack but wanted to share with you today a few on how to pack light. I travel a lot by myself because my husband spent his career as a farmer and could only travel in August, December, January and February. The rest of the time I traveled by myself. Once you have to cart all those bags by yourself, you quickly figure out how to make the load lighter. Hope this blog article has helped lighten your load!! Happy travels!