When we’re overwhelmed with stress and can’t seem to focus, taking a vacation seems like the best option. After all, 96% of American employees say vacation time is important to them — so it makes perfect sense to take a trip. But preparing for a getaway isn’t all fun and games. Getting ready to go can come with its own set of stressful circumstances.
Packing, for instance, can feel totally overwhelming for many people.
There’s an element of the unknown that goes into packing: What if the weather forecast suddenly changes? Will my shoes be comfortable? And what if I forget the thing I need most? These nagging questions can cause us to pack way more than we feasibly need (and possibly pay for it, in the form of overweight baggage fees, in the process). If you don’t relish the thought of forking over an extra $50 or dragging a ridiculously heavy duffel bag around the airport, you might need to take a closer look at your packing technique. We’re here to help you nip your overpacking habits in the bud with these tips.
Around 75% of travelers plan to take one or more weekend getaways this winter, and many more will opt to travel during the summertime. If you know you’ll be taking a trip within the next few months, you can start thinking about what you’ll need to take now. That doesn’t mean you have to bring out your suitcase weeks in advance (though you can!). But it does mean making a conscious effort to not leave packing until the last minute.
Aim to make a little progress on your packing every day. By starting earlier, you’ll be less overwhelmed when it comes down to the wire. And because you’ll actually give yourself time to adjust what you’re bringing, you’ll be able to think more clearly instead of being in a rush just to get it all done.
Make a List
When you try to wing it, that’s when you’ll often end up overpacking (and you’ll probably forget the really important stuff in the process). You should start making your list at least a couple of weeks in advance so you’ll have time to add or delete items as you see fit.
You may want to divide your list into categories (like clothing, toiletries, electronics, accessories, and others). Some people find taking a photo of each item can help, too. By creating a checklist, you can stay organized, keep yourself on track, and resist the urge to add in items to your suitcase without reason.
Mix and Match
Don’t try to bring your entire wardrobe with you on a trip. Today, the average woman owns 30 outfits (and you may have even more than that, depending on your shopping habits). Squeezing too many ensembles into your luggage will just result in frustration. There’s no way you’ll wear everything, even if you tend to spill a lot or love a good costume change. Instead of bringing distinctly separate outfits with you, try the mix-and-match approach. Try to stay within a specific color scheme by bringing mostly neutrals with a couple of pops of color. This will make everything you bring a lot more versatile and can take a considerable amount of stress out of the equation.
Use Smaller Luggage
If you’re faced with a large suitcase, you’re probably going to pack more into it. That’s actually common sense, since wasted space isn’t a good thing. But if you’re going on a weekend trip or are consciously trying to reel yourself in, you may want to opt for a smaller bag, instead. That way, you won’t be tempted to add more as time goes on. This will force you to bring only the essentials. Don’t even give yourself the possibility of switching to a larger suitcase at this point. If you’ve already made your list, you should be able to get a good idea of how much room you’ll need. Unless there’s an oversized item you absolutely have to bring, stick to a small bag and challenge yourself to stay within those parameters.
Get More For Less
When you have an extensive beauty and wellness routine, the number of toiletries you need to pack may feel totally overwhelming. Those products aren’t always lightweight, either. Of course, you should transfer these products into travel-sized bottles so that you aren’t dealing with excess weight. But you may also want to consider swapping out any items that are fragile, expensive, or serve only one purpose. The more versatile your products can be, the lighter your luggage will be.
Multifunctional items win out here. For example, a tinted moisturizer might be a great alternative to bringing a liquid foundation, a sunscreen, and a daytime face cream. A jar of coconut oil can serve as makeup remover, hair product, and moisturizer. When you can find some items that pull double-duty without messing up your regimen, you’ll have more room in your luggage for other items.
Weigh Your Suitcase
That moment of truth at the ticket counter can be a little terrifying. Will your luggage be under the weight limit, or will you be forced to pay a hefty fee? Weighing your luggage on a regular bathroom scale before you even arrive at the airport will give you time to rethink and rearrange. If it’s close to the 50-pound mark, consider what items you can afford to leave behind (or even transfer to your carry-on). That way, you won’t be worried at all about that last-minute bump in the road and will be confident you could lift your bag, if necessary.
Packing for a trip isn’t always the most enjoyable activity. But when we feel rushed, we’re likely to feel overwhelmed and pack things we don’t actually need. By giving yourself time to get organized and by using smart strategies, you’ll be able to kick your overpacking habit to the curb and have a much more enjoyable vacation from start to finish.