Packing Tips from a Seasoned Traveler

The more and more I travel, the better I'm getting at not overpacking my bags. It's easy to throw way too much in your suitcase and hope and pray that it zips closed.

Been there, done that! In fact...

👉 When I became a digital nomad in September 2022, I packed my car full to head to Toronto. I had no idea what I'd need, so I said, well I have space in my car so may as well bring it. I did know I would be there as temperatures dropped, so I needed a few pairs of shorts all the way to winter gear, which didn't help me narrow down my clothes options. The border patrol officers seemed a little confused why I had so much stuff with me!

👉 In my next destination, Cancun, I paid extra to bring a checked bag on my flight, and I filled both suitcases and my personal item to the max. This didn't really leave me with space to bring new things home.

👉 After that, I flew to Tucson for two months where I only took a backpack and a carry on suitcase. I should have actually paid for and brought a checked bag here, because I bought too much and ended up having to ship a box of stuff home.

👉 Then in the Summer of 2023, I decided to travel around Europe for 3 months, and I didn't want to lug around a bunch of suitcases everywhere I went. I could have easily packed at least one more suitcase but somehow narrowed it down to just a personal item and carry on suitcase, albeit both were filled to capacity from the get-go. For this trip, I needed clothes for super hot summer weather (it got as high as 112 degrees) as well as winter weather for going to the top of mountains in the Swiss Alps and for late October weather in Germany (which had nighttime temperatures as low as 45 degrees). My carry on suitcase did not survive this trip. It made it home, but it's not usable anymore. 🧡 RIP orange suitcase!

All that said, I know a thing or two about overpacking and have learned quite a bit from all my travels so far on how to pack better and lighter for each trip.

Here are some packing tips I've learned that you can use for your upcoming travels:

Match your outfits ahead of time

When you've piled together all the clothes you want to take with you, take time to lay them all out an match outfits together. The more items you take that go with each other, the larger variety you have when picking out what to wear each day, even if you have a small selection of clothes to choose from.

Get rid of items that only go with one other article of clothing

Ditch items that only go with one other piece of clothing you have with you, unless it's just something you truly can't live without. I know it's tempting to bring clothing items like this, but you really don't need that one item.

Leave space to buy clothes when you get there

Now I don't mean take 3 articles of clothing then buy a whole new wardrobe when you get there, but I find that I want to get a few clothing items where I'm at that fit more of the style and culture of the area. Plus then you get to say "I got these cool pants from Italy" when you get back home and wear them again (which I did). Leaving some room in your suitcase for a some new clothes also gives you room for a t-shirt or sweatshirt if you want them.

Use packing cubes for organization and space limitations

 Something that's helped me significantly with moving around so much and only having limited space in my bags is to use packing cubes. I have dedicated cubes for different clothing categories and can only take as much of each particular set that fits in its respective cube.

Plus when you move quickly from location to location, it gives you a way to unpack without fully unpacking so you don't feel like you're living out of a suitcase. You can take the cubes and put them in drawers, then easily refill them and pack them back up for speedier packing.

Stop bringing items you don't use

This may sound like a given, but ff you find you bring something with you, and you don't end up using it, instead of continue to pack it and bring it along with you, stop packing it back in your bag. Leave it at home. Get rid of it. I don't care what you do with it to be honest but stop packing it in your bag. You'll thank me later!

 

I've made quite a lot of packing mistakes along that way that you don't have to make too. Learn from my mistakes, and use these packing tips for smooth sailing in your upcoming travels.

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