Labor Day weekend is finally here, which means the end of summer and end of wearing white jeans and shorts. Aside from this being the last weekend to wear white, Labor Day weekend also means traveling for many. While travel is full of fun new adventures, it also means that there will inevitably be some degree of packing involved to prep for the upcoming trip. For those of you who know me well and/or have ever traveled with me, you are fully aware that packing has never been a strength of mine. What I really mean is that I have the world's worst case of "Over-Packers Disease." If it isn't glued down to the floor, chances are that it is in my suitcase. Options upon options, excessive amounts of accessories and I have been know to receive an overweight bag fee on occasion (not good!).
The Struggle is Real- Images of our suitcase situation from our honeymoon and then my most recent overweight bag fee from my napa trip. Don't worry, my husband didn't pay for that baggage fee--- my mess, my problem.
In an effort to finally conquer this most unfortunate disorder, I have taken to Pinterest to try and understand the best ways to pack both strategically and minimally, so that I can once and for all be free from constantly carting around luggage that feels more like a body bag. The packing tips I am sharing today may seem so simple, but they often go overlooked and really can make a huge difference in the overall size and weight of your luggage. Below are the results from my search:
Check the Weather
Really simple step to do that I have not attempted to consider when packing until now. Before your trip, check the weather forecast of your destination for the days that you plan to be there. If you don't see a chance of rain, then you can save yourself the extra luggage space and leave your raincoat at home! In addition, should your destination require sweaters, it is always helpful to know what type of sweaters you'll need to bring (ex. thick wool or thin cotton). Being empowered with the right information can really help you to pair down on appropriate outerwear essentials.
Consider Amenities at Your Destination
Whether you are going to stay at someone's house or a hotel, it is always a good idea to check on the amenities available at your destination. The most obvious example of this is the hair dryer. Talk about a big and bulky piece of equipment! Most hotels come with hair dryers in the room and same goes for the majority of homes. It is an easy item to exclude from your packing that will free up a sizable amount of space. Other items to consider- toothpaste, soap, shampoo, shower cap, slippers.
Use Travel Size
I don't know why, but for the longest time I had always thought that you could only travel with 3oz of Liquid TOTAL on an airplane. So of course, my attitude was "what's the point in trying to size down the toiletry bottles?" I will never be able to fit everything I need into 3 ounces, so might as well save the energy and just pack the whole thing.
Recently I was informed (finally!) that it's actually 3oz per container and no limit on the number of containers. Now THAT makes quite a difference (hello Callie! Glad you are finally joining the party!). Using travel size bottles decreases the overall weight of your bag, increases the amount of space available and lets be honest, who needs a full size bottle of anything for just a weekend!?! Here is a link to a great set of travel containers. In addition, most brands carry travel size quantities at stores like Target, CVS and even at your grocery store.
3 Pairs of Shoes (MAX)
In the past, I have been guilty of traveling with a shoe suitcase…yes, a whole suitcase just for my shoes! Did I wear every pair? Absolutely not. At best, I maybe got around to wearing 3-4 pairs. In all honesty, you really only need a maximum of three pairs of shoes. Since I like to work out, sneakers are a must. For the other two pairs I would suggest a pair of casual every day shoes and a pair of dress shoes. The trick is to keep the casual and dress shoe choices neutral so that they can go with a variety of outfits. If possible, I would also recommend traveling in your bulkiest pair of shoes in order to save additional space in your suitcase.
Plastic Bags Prevent Wrinkling
My mom taught me this tip-- you can protect your clothes from wrinkling by placing plastic garment bags (ex. the free ones from the dry cleaner) over your article of clothing prior to folding and packing it. I am not sure of the science behind why this works, but I can tell you from experience that it most certainly does work and has been a lifesaver for me. Who wants to have to iron their clothes when they are on vacation!?!
Lay It All Out
Before you start packing your clothes into your suitcase, I highly recommend laying all of the items you intend to pack out on your bed. This will give you a complete look at what you are deeming necessary for a trip. I recently tried this approach and boy, did it help. Instead of packing my usual 10 t-shirts for a weekend, I could see first hand that it was way too many and cut the number down to three. In addition, to laying your clothes out prior to packing, I strongly encourage you to consider the drawer folding technique I discussed in this post, when you go to load your clothing into your suitcase. This folding method will help you to maximize space and provide you with a view of your entire travel wardrobe.
While I am certainly not anywhere near considering myself to be a master packer, I would say that these tips and strategies have helped me to improve my packing tremendously. Take time to be thoughtful about what you are packing. The worst thing you can do is to pack in a hurry. Packing with haste will only lead to either overpacking or forgetting important items like socks or even make-up. If you have any additional questions on packing or have any suggestions on how I can improve my own packing, I would love to hear from you! Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend everyone!