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The Science of Packing

A scene from a middle of the night packing nightmare when I was moving back to Rome. The wine helped. ๐Ÿ™‚

I love to travel. I HATE HATE HATE HATE packing. I like to imagine that when I am finally rich I will be able to sit in a chair in my closet and point to the the things that expert packers will put in my suitcase. I will have the money to pay for overage charges without blinking and always have someone else carrying my bags no matter where I am going. I am waiting patiently for this day. Until then you will find me sitting on top of my suitcase, rolling my clothes into tiny balls, begging for mercy at the check-in counter and struggling through the airport with too many overloaded carry-on bags because the checked bag was overweight.

I like to think that I get my poor packing behavior from my mother. I remember when I was little she always had so much luggage, between her carry-on bags and checked luggage, my father was overloaded. I always remember him telling her, “Don’t pack more than you can carry!” as he then proceeded to pick up her bags. That has always remained with me and often times, even when people offer, I will insist on carrying my own bags, firstly because of what my dad said and secondly because I am usually very embarrassed by how heavy they are.

Travelnoire launched a zero baggage challenge for the month of February, you can read about it here. I wanted to join in but I am very clear about my limitations. 

Given all of the travel that I have done, people sometimes ask me if I have any tips for packing and while I am a consistent over-packer, I do have a little system.

1. Do not wait until the night before to start packing. I find that pulling out your suitcase a few days before your trip and putting a few things in at a time results in deeper thought about you’re packing. Whenever I pack the night before I always take more than I need because I do not feel like sitting down and being scrupulous about what I am, no doubt, throwing into the suitcase.

2.  Write a list of what you want to pack. I always write a list of what I want to pack in the days leading up to a trip. I often do the list by day. I simply write the day and what outfit I plan to wear and pack it. I usually add an extra shirt or two just in case I change my mind.
3. Pack the basics first and pack by category. You will always need to pack underwear (well unless you like going commando, to each their own), so why not pack it first. That way you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Then pack shirts, dresses, bottoms, socks, jewelry, etc. I find that packing by category makes it easier to pick things out.

4.  Pack only what you need and leave space for purchases. I never do this but it seems like a good tip. I am writing this post from London and this morning I became very annoyed with myself because I packed way more than I needed and have almost no space for new purchases. ๐Ÿ™

I recently downloaded the app Travel List because I saw it in Conde Nast Traveler and it seemed like a good idea. I like app because it is a great way to organize my upcoming travel but I find that entering the items to be packed is time consuming. I am one who does not like to use my iPhone to make lists, I prefer pen and paper. If you prefer making lists on your phone you probably will not mind this part of the app. I also like that you can put reminders on the app so that you do not forget key items, think charges, camera, etc. I would love to know if you have tried this app and what you think of it. Also let me know if you have used another app that you you like to use for packing.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Great post on packing tips. I typically do the same thing and "pre-pack" my suitcase a week or two before I leave.
    Sidenote…im going to Panama next week…so excited!

  2. I always used to overpack, but as soon as I could convince myself it was a huge inconvenience, I learned to pack light. I mean, I'd be dragging a heavy heavy box from airport to train/bus, it wasn't fun. And I found that I never used a third of the things I packed. So slowly, my luggage is getting lighter with each trip and it definitely helps a lot! And I don't think I can ever pack without making a list well in advance.

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