How not to overpack for your next vacation

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Whether you travel once a month or once a year, do you find you still take too much with you when you go on vacation?  We all have the best of intentions and imagine that we will need everything we pack, but most times if you’re anything like me, you find that you don’t use everything you pack.

How can you avoid this?

Sure you can go online and find packing lists or even packing list apps.  But will you use them?  You’ll probably pull everything out and start packing and only when you start jumping up and down on your suitcase will you consider the obvious fact that you’ve over packed yet again.  The panic starts setting in, which often turns to yelling or screaming at the first person who comes in and offers to help you.

adult-18728_640This soon leads to you removing every article of clothing and packing again minus one extra bathing suit or a pair of sunglasses or that straw hat you will wear on the plane vs. packing in your suitcase.  The luggage scale comes out and your suitcase is way over the allowed limit by the airline.  This causes you to once again weed out a few things to make the bag lighter.  Zip up the suitcase and try again and again and again until you nearly pass out from exhaustion.  If you think I’m exaggerating, ask any woman how hard it is to leave behind her must wear heels, makeup, or dress.  It’s hard to leave them behind, especially when you’ve grown so attached to them.

One way to avoid this is to plan out your packing in advance.  Seems somewhat obvious, but if you write down what you need and check them off your list as you pack the items, then you’re less likely to just grab everything and pile it in your bag.  Maybe you can write down how many days you’ll be traveling and then figure out how many of each item you’ll need, and then pack.  No need for 27 dresses when you’re only traveling seven days.

Buy clothing that fulfills multiple purposes for maximum efficiency.  Tank tops that can be worn day or night as well as dresses and slacks can mean less clothing to pack.  Consider lightweight fabrics that you can roll up instead of fold to save even more room in your bag when packed. Most importantly, find shoes that you can use for a variety of looks to avoid taking an entire suitcase of only shoes.

If you think about your suitcase as a vessel in which you can bring great items from your trip back home, then consider packing yoursuitcase as light as possible.  The less you put in it on your outbound trip, the more room you’ll have to pack lots of goodies that you and your friends can ogle over upon your return, probably more so than your pictures and videos.

bellman-luggage-cart-104031_640Use a handheld luggage scale to avoid embarrassment at the airport.  There are great digital scales readily available these days that allow you to simply pop the scale on around the handle of your suitcase and weigh it before you head out to the airport.  Know how much it ways before you arrive and try to keep it far under the allowed amount.  When you get to the airport, before you place your suitcase on the scale, make sure the scale is zeroed out first.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to politely ask the ticket agent to do this.  I honestly don’t think they are doing this intentionally, but if the airlines can make extra money in addition to their already high airfares, this should come as absolutely no surprise.

Another way to help with packing for your trip is to use packing cubes.  By packing in a packing cube, should you need to adjust your bag, you pull out the cubes instead of individual items.  I started using packing cubes after a humiliating experience at an airport with my carry on bag.  I had literally thrown everything into my bag and dashed to the airport only to have them open up my bag to inspect it.  There I stood watching the male agent as he rifled through my underwear to ultimately determine that there was nothing of any interest in my bag.  After that day, I packed in cubes to prevent everyone at the airport from having to sneak a peek at my undies!

travel-164574_640Perhaps you don’t really care about overpacking and are ok with having to pay extra fees to the airlines.  You can always pack two bags and pay for the additional bag or the excess weight fee for an oversized piece of luggage.  Another option is to use a service like Luggage Forward or even FedEx to ship your luggage ahead of time to your destination.  It’s easy, fast, and you don’t have to lug that big, heavy suitcase to the airport.

My ideal way to pack for a vacation would be to not have to pack at all.  I could simply buy everything I need at my destination and return home with a new suitcase and new clothes (and shoes!) to boot!  Hasn’t happened yet, but a girl can dream, right?