Truth be told, I’m a terrible packer. It significantly attributes to my stress leading up to trips. I either way underpack or way overpack. One time in middle school, my class went on a trip to China and I thought I had packed really well. I got there sans makeup, hairbrush, toothpaste, and while my friends changed outfits every night… I hadn’t thought of that; only brought one outfit/day. Ever since then, I think I’ve been paranoid about packing ever since.
When going on trips, I tend to start planning super early. My mom on the other hand, throws things into her bag the morning of. I wish I had inherited that skill. With Thanksgiving and winter break on the horizon, I’ve been a little bit extra stressed about packing. It’s hard to get in the beach mindset when there’s ice/snow on the ground.
As a paranoid packer, here are some of the tips/strategies I implement while traveling. Or at least what I do before I travel.
#1 // Remember That It’s Okay If You Forget Something
I have to remind myself this over and over and over again. Why stress when you can buy/borrow/go without? I never remember hairbrushes (like, ever) and I always remember that I forgot when it’s too late. And it totally doesn’t matter. I’ve forgotten pajamas. I’ve forgotten sandals for the beach. But it’s okay. It’s always okay. Stressing about forgetting something is such a waste of energy.
#2 // Write a Running List
I tend to do a little bit of shopping before trips. And the worst is, you know, storing it and then totally forgetting about it when you actually pack. (Just me?) I like legal pads because I can be as messy as I want when jotting down things to bring. After a week or so, the list is pretty long of things to pack. (I also keep a page of things to do before– like doing specific laundry, picking up things from the drugstore, appointments to make, etc.) As I put things into the suitcase or my carry-on bag, I check them off. This really helps cut down on forgetting things.
#3 // Keep a Notebook By Your Bed
I remember the weird things I need to pack… right as I’m falling asleep. If I don’t write it down right then, I’ll definitely forget. It’s a curse/jinx, I tell you. I always keep a notebook by my bed in general, but with a trip coming up, I tend to use a LOT more. (Side note: this is definitely the best way to reduce nighttime anxiety… writing down those “bad tapes” and getting them out of your head!) In the morning, I sort through my midnight notes to see if I actually do need to pack something and add it to the master running list.
#3 // Create an “Every Trip” List
There are always the things you’ll need for a trip. It’s kind of like a fixed cost list. Whether you’re gone for one day or one week, you’ll need pajamas and toiletries. I keep the same list saved in a document and refer to it as I pack. Makeup, iPhone chargers, toothbrush/paste, razor, shampoo, pajamas, etc. It takes a little bit of time to sit down and create, but then you’ll always have it!
#4 // Check the Weather
Kind of obvious, but I check the weather obsessively leading up to any trip. For example, my family went to England in June and it was actually kind of chilly. I ended up packing more jeans and long sleeved tees and it made my trip more enjoyable. Rain, freak cold fronts, or extreme temperatures. You never know!
#5 // Fewer Shoes, More Underwear
I may regret not packing another dress for an unexpected dinner out, but I have yet to regret bringing too few shoes. More shoes = more stress in my opinion. I actually plan my outfits so that I only have to bring one or two shoes. Like, all navy outfits so I can bring navy flats. I also way overpack underwear. I don’t know why. But I do. Especially when going to the beach when you’re in and out of bathing suits all day. Weird, but true.
#6 // Pack Outfits by Day
Laying out my outfits as I pack helps me see if I’m under or overpacking. I fold everything up and stack the pieces of the outfits by the day of the week. An example might be, jeans/shirt/sweater for Monday Day and dress/tights/sweater for Monday Night. I try my best to re-wear the pieces in different outfits and get the most out of my clothes without bringing too much.
#7 // Travel in the Heaviest
And when in doubt, pack without taking up any space in your suitcase: Wear it. The biggest shoes, the bulkiest sweater, beach hats, jeans… whatever it takes to keep that bag under the fifty pound limit