8 tips to avoid overpacking, according to a professional traveler
This article was written by guest author, Oneika Raymond
If you’re anything like me, you love to travel but hate to pack for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love most pre-trip prep: I can gleefully spend hours crafting an itinerary, researching the best spots to sample local cuisine, or looking up a destination’s most Instagrammable locations. But the act of gathering my belongings and putting them into a suitcase? That’s where I lose all enthusiasm.
Thankfully, after traveling to more than 100 countries across 6 continents, you could say that I’ve got packing down to a science. Because, not only am I able to pack within 30 minutes, I’m also able to pack more efficiently, rarely ever have to check a bag, and still manage to look cute! Wondering how I’m able to do it? Keep reading for my tips on how to pack lighter, smarter, and faster.
Pack less, use laundry services more
The truth is, most of us are chronic over packers — meaning we bring way too many articles of clothing on any given trip. That’s why my number one recommendation is to never pack more than 7 days worth of clothing:. Not only will that force you to get serious about which items are really essential, it also cuts down on unnecessary weight. Also, let’s get real: With the exception of your undergarments, you can (and should!) wear your clothes more than once on your vacation. If that’s not your thing, you can also look into getting your clothes laundered while you’re away, or even hand-wash them in your hotel room’s sink.
Leave the heavy jewelry, toiletries, and electronics at home
Once again, less is more. Leave the heavy chains, face washes, and cameras at home and take a lighter approach. If you’re into accessories, think about adorning yourself with scarves or shawls, typically made in lightweight materials that are breathable and easily packable. If you’re a K-beauty fan you can always pour out a small amount of your favorite skincare products into travel-sized bottles (no need to bring the originalpackage it came in). For electronics like cameras, smartphones are so good now that they can deliver near-equivalent quality to your DSLR camera. Not convinced? This might also be a prime opportunity to book a local photographer for those extra-special vacay shots you don’t want to miss.
Bring only 3 pairs of shoes max
Shoes weigh you down literally and figuratively, so try to bring as few pairs as you can. A good walking shoe is crucial for exploring your destination, and depending on where exactly you’re going, a ballet flat for the ladies is a great option that can transition you from day to night. My personal recommendation: Unless you’re slated to go to a wedding or some other fancy event, leave the stilettos at home-. I guarantee you won’t wear them enough for them to be worth it.
Ditch the denim and other heavy materials
Jeans may be cute but they are heavy and take up a lot of space in your luggage; this goes for garments like sweaters as well. Instead, pack lightweight garments that you can layer when the weather is cold or inclement. Instead of packing a bulky wool jacket, bring thermals you can use as a base layer under a down-filled coat with a slimmer fit.
Create a master packing list
Here’s a secret: most of the anxiety around packing comes from not knowing what to pack! Cut down on nerves (and time spent getting your luggage sorted) by creating a master packing checklist you can use again and again. Start your list with essential “can’t live without” items (like underwear) that you’re likely to bring on every single trip, then round it out with your “want but don’t need” items that are sure to vary depending on your destination. This way, you’ll not only keep your anxiety at bay, you’ll also be able to speed up the process.
Pack in palettes (that also mix and match)
Here’s another big tip that I frequently employ: I pack clothing in complementary colors and prints. Since I can mix and match everything, I don’t have to worry about packing “outfits”; I can simply throw in a bunch of separates I know will look good no matter what combination. Doing this allows me to pack way more quickly and efficiently.
Keep at stocked toiletry bag in your luggage at all times
Toiletry items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and body creams typically come with you on every trip, so why spend time packing them again and again? Instead, save time by keeping a toiletry bag stocked with all your lotions and potions in your luggage. Set a monthly calendar reminder to check it so that it’s always topped up and ready to go.
Consider packing in stages…over a few days
My last tip is probably the most difficult one to adopt if you’re a master procrastinator. However, taking the time to pack over a few days as opposed to a few hours will not only minimize your stress levels but also reduce the amount of time it takes to pack overall! Apply some method to the packing madness by packing in “segments”. Start with essentials, then move down your list to the “I don’t necessarily need this, but want it” items until your luggage is complete. Trust me, this simple act will change your life.
About Oneika Raymond
Oneika Raymond is an award-winning travel and lifestyle expert, journalist, and television host whose adventures have taken her to over 115 countries on 6 continents.
As an NBC New York correspondent and host of two series on the Travel Channel, she’s dedicated to inspiring women and people of color to live their best lives both at home and abroad. Profiled by outlets such as Forbes, The Washington Post, and New York Magazine, Oneika is also an accomplished writer whose work has appeared in publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Ebony Magazine, and Lonely Planet. Additionally, she’s the voice behind the respected travel blog Oneika The Traveller, which was named Best Travel Blog by the Society of American Travel Writers in 2018.