A Recovering Overpacker’s 12 Steps to Lighting the Load

 I have to admit. I am a recovering over packer. You know the person. The one holding up the airport check-in line as they frantically transfer anything remotely heavy from suitcase to carry-on. Praying in vain the scale will somehow come in under the 50-pound limit thinking, “if I just remove these sandals and shove them in my pockets, it will take off at least 10 pounds”

For years, I’ve struggled with my larger-than-life suitcase… up winding staircases, through crowded train terminals, over European cobble stoned streets, and countless times a cab driver has lifted my bag and winced, “what do you have in here, rocks?”

Here are my 12 steps for over packing recovery:

  1. Roll your clothes. You can roll a summer sundress into a 2×6 cube (about the size of a small bratwurst sausage)
  2. Coco Chanel said, “When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on.” Same goes for packing.
  3. There’s nothing wrong with repeating. Wear those jeans day and night. They can handle it. So can you.
  4. Stick with a basic color scheme, blacks, browns, and a few colorful tanks and scarves.
  5. Bring lots of fun accessories like earrings and necklaces. They take almost no room!
  6. If in doubt, leave it at home!
  7. Make a list. Check it twice. Stick to it.
  8. Winter trips are a bit trickier. I like to bring just one coat and carry it on the plane. It makes a good pillow, blanket or back rest.
  9. Bring a small amount of laundry detergent. Hand wash tanks, tees and under garments in the sink. They will dry over night.
  10. Buy travel size of everything, even eye drops. If you run out, you can always buy more. Besides, Its kind of fun shopping in a French drugstore, or as they say, la pharmacie.
  11. Don’t pack to capacity. Leave room for items you pick up along the way.
  12. Here’s a toughie: whether you travel for two weeks or two months, pack exactly the same.

I’m not a packing pro. I still have a ways to go. But I’ve really lightened up over the years. And you know what? I didn’t miss my stuff. In fact, it’s quite freeing!

My What a Big Suitcase you Have!

My What a Big Suitcase you Have!


  • on ki said:

    i think i am becoming an old lady…i used to able to pack 1 backpack for 3 weeks (it was winter time too!). now it is 2 bags for weekend…


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