6 Ways To Pack Light

It's time for me to confess...

I used to be a chronic over-packer.

When I would leave for a four day trip I was guilty of packing more shoes than actual days, several bulky sweatshirts, wayyyyy too many pants, and jewelry (which I hardly ever wear in the first place).

Every now and then, I still find myself getting a little gluttonous while packing, but I have definitely figured out some good tricks to help me simplify. So let's just dive in.

1. Start with choosing one outfit per day.

This is easy enough. Think about each day you'll be gone and what you'll be doing that day that may require a certain kind of outfit. Is your destination a little chilly, and you'll be outside for the majority of the day? Pack a layer outfit. Will you be going out later that night for dinner? How can you add or change one piece to that same outfit to make it work for later too? Add a cute hat or statement necklace, trade out the pants for a skirt, switch your shoes for a dressier pair, etc...
Once you do that for each day, you can get an overview of how many shoes, hats, or accessories, you're hoping to bring at this point.

2. How can you consolidate?

Now it's time to look over all the ideals you have in front of you and break it down. Do you have a different pair of pajamas for every night? Plan to wear a pair for at least two nights in a row to save room. For shoes, make it easy: one pair that's comfortable, cute and goes with a lot (like some staple boots), a pair that's a little dressier and goes with a lot, but doesn't take up too much room (wedges, heels), and possibly one more pair that's ultra comfy for travel or heading out the door for a little adventure (sneakers, tennis shoes, moccasins <--always my choice haha).
With clothes, bring one comfy hoody that you can wear several times over. Bring tops and cardigans/sweaters that easily mix and match and can be dressed up or dressed down easily. Can you wear some pants or skirts a couple times? Dresses with or without tights are always easy to pack because they take up little space and can always be upgraded to fit a venue or occasion. Scarves are basically like packing air, let's be real. Can you wear bulky layers on the plane that can be used later in the week too? Don't forget to have an easy travel outfit for inbound and outbound!

3. Hygiene products and accessories. Ugh.

This is ALWAYS my weak spot. Here's what I've learned, though. I used to pack a bazillion different pieces of jewelry.... but I hardly wear anything other than earrings. Ever. So I stopped packing bulky bracelets and necklaces unless I was absolutely planning on wearing them on the trip (like for a wedding, night out, etc..). Moral of the story, don't bring things you never even wear when you're at home, because you probably won't pull them out on a trip either!
As for bulkier items... will you be able to borrow a hair dryer where you're going? Do you need every different tool for doing your hair, or can you just choose one that can do a lot of styles? Do you need the full-sized bottle of everything, or will a travel sized work (hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, contact solution, etc..)? If you can manage with the smaller versions, you can even throw them in your purse while you're out and about! I even leave my electric toothbrush at home because 1) I'd hate to lose it 2) it's far more bulky than a travel one. For make-up, I used to bring everything I owned "just in case I wanted to mix it up"... but I never mixed it up and did my make-up the exact same as usual. HAHA. So keep it simple. I keep my bobby-pins in a little jewelry baggie, and I wrap a couple extra hair ties around a hair brush handle. Separate your items that get wet (shower items) from items that don't (hair brushes and jewelry). Then you're looking at only two plastic bags and a small make-up bag. So easy.

4. Bags.

This is one I should have thought up sooner. I try to bring suitcases large enough that once all my clothes, accessories, and shoes are packed, there's extra room for a small purse (like a crossbody) to fit in it. Then, I wear a small backpack with my computer (if needed), headphones, a book, extra set of clothes, wallet, passport, phone charger, and other little basics to bring with me on the plane. I prefer this because it saves me from dealing with a typical carry-on sized bag PLUS a fussy purse PLUS a checked bag. By all means, if you can pack yourself into a carry-on, do it!! But strangely, I've found that by checking a larger bag (free on Southwest) that isn't full and keeping a purse in it, using a backpack for traveling makes life so much easier. Plus, backpacks are really cute nowadays. Then, when you've reached your destination, you can grab your small purse out of your bag and go about your day. I used to always bring GIANT purses on trips to try and squeeze as much stuff onto a plane as I could manage, but I hated having to lug it around once I landed. And if you do need a bigger "purse" once you reach your destination, you'll have a cute backpack instead of a heavy purse to carry around.

5. The only items you should over-pack.

Underwear and socks. It's just a matter of "better safe than sorry." If you get stranded due to weather or something of the like, even if you have to wear your clothes a bunch of times over you'll at the LEAST have some clean skivvies. I think I pack about two weeks worth of undies and socks every time I travel and I always use more socks than I think I will. There have been far too many trips that I wished I had more clean socks. If I'm in a cold hotel room, it just feels better to put on some clean socks before bed instead of the icky, sweaty ones you wore all day. It's a small luxury - haha.

6. If you forgot something, it's not the end of the world.

Chances are, if worse comes to worse, you can buy a pair of pajamas if you forgot yours (or borrow your husband's t-shirt). Or some deodorant. Or some face lotion. You will in fact survive if you forgot something, I promise. Just don't forget extra contacts and your glasses... because that could potentially suck.

Even though my husband might disagree, my packing has become quite efficient, these days. If we're visiting family for a week or more, I try to sneak in a load of laundry to keep my suitcase fresh and "recycled." I hope you guys found this helpful. Do you have any tricks of the trade? Share them in the comments, because this girl loves some good old fashioned efficiency.

TravelJoy Johnson