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How to Avoid Overpacking with 20 Awesome Tips

Published On February 14, 2013 | By alex | Packing, Packing Tips

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20 Tips to Avoid Overpacking

  1. Overpacking begins when you choose a travel bag or suitcase that is way too big. Start with carryon size options and exchange for a bigger size if necessary.
  2. Select everything you think you need for the trip and remove half of the items.
  3. After making the initial cut backs, lay out your clothing and determine how many travel outfits you can make. Have a private fashion show and play around with the clothing. You’ll find out that you can mix and match your clothing in more ways than you imagined avoiding the need for too many items in your bag or suit case.
  4. Just because you are packing for a long term trip doesn’t mean you have to pack more than you would on a one week vacation. Just 8 clothing items can make 26 unique outfits which can be enough for both a weekend city break and a month long trip.
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  5. Stick to one color story and remove any clothing items that are too close in style and color. For variation, choose prints in the same color pallet.
  6. Make sure the pieces you choose go together. As ultra minimalist packer Deanne Ballard learned, out of the 4 items she packed on her 6 month journey in Central America, her short sleeve top didn’t really go with her pants or skirt. When you travel with just 4 pieces of clothing and a daypack as she did, that can create quite the dilemma. Clothing must be interchangeable.
  7. Remember to pack more tops in the winter months and replace them with dresses in the summer.
  8. Try to choose clothing that has multiple uses and can be worn in more than one setting.
  9. As SuzyGuese commented in the Ultimate RTW trip packing list, pack more tops than bottoms because a top will provide more of a change in your look instead of packing half and half.
  10. Pack multi-purpose travel makeup like the NARS Multiple or Makeup Forever Cream Eye Shadow
  11. Play with small, light, and low maintenance accessories like scarves, belts, and a cute handbag that will add style to every outfit. Used as single accessory or together, they always update any travel outfit.
  12. Shoes: 3 pairs of travel shoes is usually a good quantity to pack for any trip. For vacation you might need a pair of flip flops, nice sandals, and heels while for a backpacking trip it would be recommended to switch out those heels for some trainers.
  13. Don’t pack “just in case” items. If you need it, you can buy it there.
  14. Remember that you can do laundry while you’re traveling. You can choose to wash it yourself so you’ll need a universal sink stopper plug; have the hotel service wash it; or take it to a local laundry service which is usually very affordable. Also, find out if your guest house, hotel, or hostel has laundry facilities you can use. Detergent can easily be purchased on the road – or just use shampoo. 

    Universal Sink Plug

  15. Know the weather before you go but don’t pack more just because it’s cold. All it means is that you’ll have to layer your clothing and choose items carefully.
  16. Avoid packing full size toiletries. If you absolutely cannot live without a certain brand, use reusable travel size containers for these items. Most hotels offer basic soap and shampoo, and if you’re a backpacker you can replenish travel size toiletries as you go along. You’ll be surprised how far you can stretch travel sized toiletries.
  17. Avoid packing too many electronics by choosing one that can do it all. If you want internet access and an e-reader, choose a tablet like a Kindle Fire. If you want some internet access and music, use an iPhone or iPod. Better yet, make the most of your travels, and leave the electronics at home.
  18. The airline weight allowance shouldn’t be your packing guideline. Strive to pack no more than 10kg or 22 lb. If your bag weighs more than 15kg or 33lb chances are you’re overpacking.
  19. Use the rolling method along with organizers like packing cubes to maximize the space in your bag. You might find out you don’t need a jumbo suitcase and can fit everything into a carryon suitcase or travel backpack instead.
  20. After following all these tips and you find that you have plenty of room in your travel bag, don’t fill it up just because there’s space – save some room for souvenirs and shopping!

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6 Responses to How to Avoid Overpacking with 20 Awesome Tips

  1. Zarah says:

    LOVE this site and all the useful tips! There’s just one thing I keep coming back to, and it’s this:
    I am 6′ tall and not exactly a twiglike waif. I’m full figured as well as tall, and as such, my clothes take up a lot more space (and weigh more) than if I were smaller. (For more than one reason. There is more fabric to them, and I tend to choose capris instead of shorts – and so on.) I try to keep the space and weight of my packed items down, but this makes it a lot more difficult.
    I know you’ve written about this before and that you’ve linked to sites about it, but I’d really apreciate MORE on this topic.
    I’m looking forward to more interesting reading material around here and I want to end my “novella” by saying THANK YOU for all the excellent advice and ideas around this site.
    You’re phenomenal. :)
    /Zarah in Sweden

  2. Marie-Dominik says:

    I want these packing cubes! They seem very practical but they don’t ship to Canada and it seems that no store in Quebec sells them…:(

  3. brandy bell says:

    just love this list, alex! been trying to get my bag lighter (even the makeup department), thanks for helping me find more room in my bag :)

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