“So you packed, American…”

I leave for Thailand soon and I’ve decided to bravely face the suitcase that has been glaring at me from the corner of my room this week and pack. I don’t know if anyone else has the same issue as I do but I just can’t seem to go anywhere without feeling like I need to rent a U-Haul and bring my whole place with me! I’m always in fear that I’ll leave something behind that I just won’t be able to live without while I’m gone. Totally irrational, but true, and it seems like I’m not the only one out there feeling this way otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people telling us how to pack smartly!

On one of my trips to Europe I had an experience that changed my mind on the importance of the things I bring. Two friends and myself went to visit a college friend who had moved to London. We were going to be there for two weeks and it was springtime so naturally my “hoarder style” packing was in full effect and I left the Philadelphia Airport with two large bags full of shoes, purses, coats, you name it, it was in there. Unbeknownst to me we had quite a journey on the London Underground from Heathrow to her flat, which involved changing lines and schlepping all of our bags up and down the entrances to the tube stops. Jet-lagged, sweaty and sore armed we finally arrived at her apartment. After greeting us she noticed that we had six suitcases between the three of us. Our laborious trek to her place was met with one response. “Oh, you guys packed American didn’t you?”

We can laugh about it now, but at the time it felt like pure torture.
We can laugh about it now, but at the time it was torture

Since then I’ve come up with a couple of little tips that I try and remind myself each time I leave so I’m freed of my mistakes of travels past.

“Pack light, pack right”

I know it sounds super corny but I swear if I say my little mantra to myself enough times before I start shoving any article of clothing I can find in my bag, it seems like it sets me up to avoid a multi bagged fiasco.

You are going on vacation, you aren’t moving there… yet.

This goes hand in hand with my packing chant. To stop myself from bringing my whole closet and regretting it as soon as I walk through the airport doors, I’ve become accustomed to putting on a really good playlist, shutting my bedroom door and getting down to business. I start by laying out all of the clothes I “think” I want to bring with me. After a quick run through I usually end up putting back about half of what I thought I would need. Some people find it easy to make a list based on theiitinerary and go from there. I’m more of a visual person so actually setting everything out works better for me.

www.onebag.com is a great little site that gives you some hints on trimming down your list and bringing just the essentials. Didn’t think you could devote a whole site to packing did you? Think again.

“A folder or a roller?”

Until recently I was a firm believer that it made no difference whether I folded my clothes or rolled them in my suitcase. Then I started loose rolling my shirts and sorry to say but your pretentious, know-it-all friend is right, it’s better. Not only do you magically have more space, but things are less wrinkled too. It is just one of those mysteries of life that may never be solved but I’m a convert.

“OK so I’m not Christopher Columbus”

At the beginning of my packing process I am always in the mind set that wherever I’m going, whether it be for a week or a month, there is no way that I’ll be able to purchase anything at my destination. Reality soon sets in and I remind myself that I am not going to an uninhabited location on earth and if I forget a toothbrush, I can in fact buy it when I get there. This has been the best advice for myself because it ends up allowing me to be human and occasionally forget something. I’m not the perfect packer and it’s a lot more freeing when I don’t hold myself to such a high standard.

Imelda Marcos eat your heart out

Shoes are my kryptonite. We all have at least one thing that we just can’t leave home without, even if we know we aren’t going to need it. Mine is shoes, multiple pairs of shoes. I can’t even go to my sister’s house on the other side of town for a night with out bringing two or three (dare I say four) pairs. This is the one thing that I can’t seem to bring down to a minimum. As far as packing problems go this is the worst offender and this trip I’ve committed to only bringing four pairs of shoes, maybe in the spring I’ll be down to three but I doubt it. I’ve also realized that you are what’s in your suitcase so try as I might to pack as if I’m a minimalist, my true colors shine through when I throw that pair of purple wedges in the bottom of my bag.

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    I like to create a capsule wardrobe with my clothing. Some pieces are dual use (hiking pants that convert to capris, but are still a dark neutral and look “normal”). Once that is complete it is a lot easier to choose shoes and accessories.

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