Packing Light for the Chronic Over-Packer


AHHHH!!!  I’m going to Europe again!  In case you weren’t fully able to interpret the capital letters at the start of this post, I am extremely excited.  I can’t wait to experience new places with my favorite person.

My husband and I plan to visit a few different cities in Spain and then spend a couple days in Paris.  Our trip is scheduled for February, and we plan to take only one backpack a piece.  Packing is definitely going to be a challenge as we will need to make differing winter climates and limited space work together.

Let me take you back a few years before traveling (by plane) was really a thing that I did on the regular.  Let me take you back to a time before my husband.  I was a chronic over-packer.  When my family would go on road trips, I would pack multiple suitcases for a week long trip.  And these suitcases were not small.  I had this idea that essentially everything I owned needed to come with me on this trip because “you never know,” right?  One must always be prepared for the unknown, and 7 days means 15 shirts because I may get ketchup on one, and I probably won’t like how I look in that outfit on Thursday, and…the list goes on.

Then I met my husband and started traveling a lot more on a plane.  There’s this almost rule in his family that you can’t check a bag.  If it doesn’t fit in a carry-on, you don’t need it.  Turns out, they were right.  Plus, the more I flew, the more I hated waiting at the baggage claim.  Taking a carry-on really is the way to go.

Believe it or not, people, you can actually fit everything you need for one week (even 2 or 3) in a backpack or a small carry-on.  Here are some tips for packing light.

Pack only what you will absolutely need.

packing-light-photoHow many times have you packed for a trip and only used about half of what is actually in your suitcase.  Guess what?  You don’t actually need that many extra outfits or shoes because it won’t kill you to wear the same outfit more than once in a week.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn.  In my mind, people were bound to notice if I wore the same thing too close together.  In truth, no one cares.  If it doesn’t smell or have visible stains on it, you’re good to go!  Lay out everything you think you need, and then take each item and really consider whether or not it is necessary.  Bring things that are versatile and will layer well.  I love looking at Sara Watson’s packing light ideas when deciding what to bring on my trips.

You also don’t need to follow your extensive skin care routine each night while abroad.  Save yourself the space and take only the essentials.  A good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen will do the trick.  Get back to your multi-step regimen when you return.  Travel sizes are a must due to TSA requirements, so go stock up.  They have travel sizes of just about everything, even the life-saving dry shampoo.  Pick yourself up a few empty travel size bottles for the things that you can’t purchase.  However, limit yourself to taking only what you absolutely need.  Even travel sizes can get out of hand quickly.

Leave the hairdryer and curlers at home.  This doesn’t mean you have to look like a total bum every day.  Research and practice a few ways to fix your hair without using those items.  Plus, the place you’re staying might have them for you anyway.  I love watching Twist Me Pretty for inspiration.  Sea salt spray is also a nice thing to throw in your bag to add a little volume to your air-dried hair.  If you can’t live without curling your hair, look into buying travel size sets or a more compact version of your iron.


Learn to roll your clothing.

It is a huge space saver, and if done right, actually keeps your clothes from getting too wrinkled.  Stuff your socks, belts, and scarves in your shoes.  Check out Real Simple’s guides on packing effectively.  If you want a more thorough course, you might be interested in Travel Fashion Girl’s tips.   rolling-shirt-intro-ictcrop_gal

Save some space for souvenirs.

Duh, I’m going to purchase a few mementos from my trip.  On my first venture overseas, my friend and I ended up shipping things home since we didn’t have the space in our packs to carry it.  My goal this time is to keep from doing that.  However, it is always an option if needed.  You don’t want to leave so much at home that you are uncomfortable with your appearance and general hygiene and therefore are more focused on that than your trip.

Find a good purse.

Finding a good purse is important for many reasons.  You need one that makes it difficult for pick-pockets to get into as well as one that will actually hold what you need.  My favorite purse for this was recommended to me by a friend.  It is Fossil bag that unfortunately is no longer offered; however, they have other similar options.  When looking for your own travel friendly purse, consider these things.

  • Crossbody straps: This style bag makes it harder for people to snatch and run off with your things.
  • Space: Look for a mid-size bag that will hold your camera an other necessary items.  That tiny one, or the oversized tote, may be cute, but not exactly functional.
  • Zippers & Flaps: I not only look for purses with zippers to travel with, I look for those with flaps too.  Having both a flap that folds down over a zipper is doubly discouraging to wandering hands.  I love the look of this Harper Saddle Crossbody bag from Fossil.

Now go enjoy your travels!

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

Feature Photo: The Sunday Chapter



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