How to Prevent Overpacking

We’ve all been there. You’re at the ticket counter ready to embark on the trip you’ve been waiting months for and then you hear those dreaded four words: “Your bag is overweight.”

At some point, we’ve all packed a little too much (Five pairs of shoes? Guilty!) for vacation. Maybe you’ll have the sudden desire to wear that dress you bought on sale, or you just have to bring a backup pair of shoes just in case, or three pairs of jeans, just, well, because. Or maybe you’ve packed your iPhone, iPad, and laptop to stay on top of business matters. But you’re on vacation! 

Bottom line: Over-packing can place a serious burden on your trip. It makes things hard to find, it becomes difficult to lug your bag around, and chances are, you won’t use half the things you’ve brought. For your next trip, we challenge you to implement the following tips in order to pack a bit lighter. With a little extra time, planning, and effort, you’ll be amazed at the difference a streamlined packing system will make!

Limit Toiletries and Cosmetics

Maintaining your skincare and makeup routine while traveling can mean bringing many products with you. So try this trick: Instead, utilize multi-use products like a tinted moisturizer with SPF or a dual cheek and lip stain. For items like face wash or shampoo that you can’t bear to leave at home, utilize travel-sized containers like these, which minimize on spills (and take up very little room). Medicines or supplements can be portioned and placed in a zip-lock bag or pill case to save space (no bulky bottles!) in your bag. The key is to bring just the necessities: everyday makeup and skincare items, essential toiletries, and perhaps just one special lipstick for an evening out.

Use a Carry-On Only

It may sound scary to serial over-packers, but a crucial part of packing light is limiting the size of your luggage. Embarking on a 10-day trip? A carry-on is all you need, we promise! With the right packing strategy, fitting all of your items in a carry-on is, dare we say, easy! Whether you opt for a small rolling suitcase, an overnighter, or a backpack, you’ll cut down on the time you’re stuck at the airport significantly. Also, with airlines increasing baggage fees, it’s a nice way to save a bit of money on your travels.

When packing a carry-on, be certain that you can lift and carry it for extended periods of time (Hello, never-ending security lines!). You’ll want something that can be taken through the airport, quickly and efficiently, and to your destination city with ease. When purchasing a carry-on, be sure to look for something lightweight and well constructed.

Pack Versatile Clothing

Making decisions on clothing to bring is, typically, what takes the most consideration when packing. No one wants to cringe while looking back at the outfits they’re sporting in vacation photos! The key to looking great without packing your entire closet is: stick to one color palette while choosing items that can be worn in different ways, and more than once. That lightweight sweater that looks just as good over a dress for dinner as it does casually with jeans? Pack it!

Before your trip, inventory your closet to determine which items are most versatile. Sticking to a few colors and pieces that work well together means you’ll avoid feeling like you’re wearing the same thing every day. Also be on the lookout for clothing that doesn’t wrinkle or show stains as easily, and items that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. We love bringing things like basic black pants (stretch, jean, ponte), simple cotton dresses, and big scarves (which can double as a pillow, blanket, sarong, etc.), all of which can be worn in several different ways.

Avoid Last Minute Packing

The worst thing you can do when attempting to pack light is to leave your packing to last minute (Trust us!). How often have you found yourself packing three hours before depature time thinking, “Oh I might need this!” and throwing a hat you’ve literally never worn before into your bag? We want you to avoid that! Give yourself at the very least a day or two in advance to pack in order to save you the inevitable, mad let-me-just-throw-this-all-in-and-go dash that we’ve all done before. Setting aside an hour or two to think about packing a bit more intentionally can save a lot of unnecessary stress, and ultimately lead to more space in your bag. A few days before your trip, make a list of what you’ll need and stick to it when packing. This will help prevent packing those “what if” items that you don’t usually end up needing!

Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are simply put, amazing. They have completely changed the way we pack for the better. Does your suitcase look like a chaotic mess of clothes, chargers, and toiletries by the time you’re done packing? If so, packing cubes will be a game changer. These lightweight bags are a simple concept, but it’s amazing what a difference they will make in your bag organization. To start, decide the general categories of items you have. This will vary based on destination, but we suggest at least one cube for socks and undergarments, one for electronics like chargers and camera batteries, and one for toiletries. Organizing these easy to misplace items will make your packing much easier.

Coordinate With Travel Companions

So much of what we bring on trips is often duplicated in the luggage of our travel companions. Most everyone brings things like shower gel, toothpaste or lotion, all of which can be pared down with a little coordination. Going on a weekend trip with your three best friends? Coordinate beforehand to determine who brings what. You all may need a laptop to check-in with work at some point, but perhaps you can share just one instead of having everyone bring their own. Clothing may be personal to each traveler, but deciding which items to share with your travel companions will help lighten your load significantly.

Here’s to lighter bags, no baggage fees, and organized traveling! Bon voyage!