Obviously my priorities were totally different when I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico (peep the fancy flats that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion).
If you look up the definition of a pack rat in the dictionary there is a 99% chance that you will see my name and photo.
I am that person that really must resist packing every single pair of shoes that I own (and I own a lot of shoes) when going away. I am that person that will pack 10 different outfits for a long weekend getaway. I am also the person that will be packing up until the last possible moment which sometimes requires my poor boyfriend to wait with the cab driver while I finish packing (thank goodness my apartment in Brooklyn is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from JFK).
So clearly I have (had?) a problem!
As I have gotten older and have started traveling more, I am learning to become more ruthless so that I don't have to check a bag (nobody got time for that!) while not feeling deprived of the comforts of my closet while away.
So here are some tips to pack light and avoid those annoying checked bag fees:
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 noticed this. You pack four pairs of shoes, but you really only wear one pair every day. You pack three sweaters and a shawl that you never use, because you wind up just wearing your favorite light jacket that goes with everything you own.
Case in point, I just came back from Cartagena, Colombia and I checked my suitcase and I had a pair of shoes that I NEVER wore.
Don’t Pack For Every Possible Situation. Pack for an average day. There’s no way you can cover every contingency. Look at the forecast, the average temps and weather for that time of year, and go with that. If there’s a freak week of rain in what’s normally a sunny season unless you’re headed to an extremely remote area that sees few travelers, it’s very unlikely that you won’t be able to purchase a rain coat or an umbrella where you are. If there’s a cold snap, there’s probably also a store nearby with just the thing you need.
A little rain atop my curly head won't ruin my day and I always have a headband ready for high puff duty.
It’s Okay To Wash. If you’re going to be gone for three weeks, pack enough clothes for one. If you’re a hardcore DIYer, almost every resort or town in the world has a Laundromat or laundry service. If you’re feeling like you want a break from daily tasks and routines and you’re really looking forward to the luxury of having other people pamper you, have your clothes laundered and folded for you. It’s still often cheaper than luggage fees!
Nothing says local living like doing laundry in Rome or if you are feeling really fancy have your clothes laundered (snob nose).
For Warmth, Go With Layers Over Bulk. Pick several thin layers with insulating, wicking fabrics — merino wool is a great one — over a big jacket. Heavier items like jackets and sweaters don’t offer the flexibility. They’re just hot, and when the sun comes out, then you have to cart around a huge coat. But a compact zip-up fleece can roll up easily into a bag or backpack in the afternoon and then come back out again for that sunset walk on the beach.
Lost on an Aer Lingus flight (great airline btw) is one of my best purchases a lightweight jacket from Uniqlo which got me from rainy Ireland to sunny Barcelona and all the planes, trains, and automobiles in between.
Think: Mix and Match, simplified palette, and multi-function items. If three tops match three bottoms, you’ve got nine possible outfits. Add in a Swiss-Army-Knife travel item like the popular Chrysalis Cardi, and you’ve got one item that converts into eight different things. As travel blogger Fred Perotta says: bring pieces, not outfits.
My go tos are always denim jeans (dark and light wash). The light wash for daytime and dark wash jeans that can be dressed up with a nice blouse. My other go tos are dresses that can be dressed down with flats or sandals and dressed up with fancier shoes.
If You’ve Got To Have Something Bulky and Heavy — Wear It, don’t pack it. Hiking boots, down jacket, that awesome cable knit wool cardigan — these might very well have a great place on your trip, but they shouldn’t be in your suitcase. Wear them on the plane. You can easily pack several versatile layers for the space that one sweater would take up.
If you’re ready to pack for an adventure, I’d love to talk to you about it. I know we can find a place that’s just right for you — and I’ll even give you insider tips packing suggestions for your specific destination!
You can reach me today by clicking here.