I’m not a pro. I told myself that I would never give packing advice. I’m terrible at packing. But I’ve gotten a lot better! 10,000 hours, or whatever. I’ve had quite a bit of practice. Take it from someone who’s been there. If you’re like me, and your mind absolutely explodes with possible scenarios for which you must be prepared, here are a few ways to combat the overwhelming amount of “stuff” you’re about to be tempted to bring.
1. Packing Cubes. They were inexpensive, so I thought I’d give them a try, not expecting them to be game changers. I wish I had known about them yearsssss ago. Packing cubes are my overpacking enablers. Packing cubes are essentially rectangular nylon zipper bags that gently compress your stuff and help keep you organized. They’re sold in sets of various sizes and colors. I have a set I picked up at Target, and another one I bought on Amazon. I like that when I’m on a trip, I can get my cubes out and place them in the closet, or in a drawer, so instead of living out of my suitcase, I can visualize everything and keep it folded without rifling through it all. When I pack the boys, I put their clothes in two separate cubes, diapering things in another, and usually odd seasonal stuff like bathing suits, or hats and mittens, etc. in another. This way, they can share a suitcase and we can easily tell who’s stuff is who’s, without it getting jumbled. These nylon bags are able to organize a whole lot of stuff in to a neat, stackable, packable “cube”. There are a zillion out there. Try them!
2. Punish yourself by forcing yourself to wear every. single. item. that you packed. Now, don’t get all excited about the amount of clothes your packing cubes are going to allow you to bring. This is not an invitation to continue overpacking. This is about self-discipline. I’m trying to help you get your packing act together. If you have a questionable couple items that you’re waffling over, put them back. I can guarantee, you won’t miss the wrinkled-to-a-crisp, off-the-shoulder linen top that is totally impractical for playing tourist, while chasing your children. You will regret that top like I did. Unless you’re going to the beach, or have a babysitter scheduled for date-night. Put it back. I’m sure there’s something in your packing cube wardrobe that can serve a duel purpose, should a dressy occasion arise. And if you can’t, and you must bring that top, then you must wear it in all of its wrinkled mess glory (you are of course, allowed to iron it, but ew, ironing). This also goes for shoes.
3. Pick a color scheme. Accessorize your heart out, and include an outlier, if you must, but choose coordinating outfits. Pretend you’re decorating a room, but that room is your suitcase and it all has to go together. I cannot tell you the burden that was lifted when I started packing this way. Now, I can pretty much grab a top and a bottom from my packing cubes and head out sightseeing without a second thought. Or, instead of something spilling, or smudgy little fingers leaving their mark on a specific item that went with only one other item, I have mix and match backup. The perfect travel wardrobe can be dressed up, or down and goes with just about everything. It takes some prior thought, and you might need to invest in a piece or two, but pretty soon you’ll be a packing pro.
Why does this matter? I’ve found over the years, that staying organized while I travel saves my sanity, and makes for a better overall experience. Packing lighter, and staying organized is a thousand times more freeing than shuffling through the jumble of stuff I will never use, cursing while trying to find that one item I do need, and know is &%*!@!! in there somewhere!!!! Especially when there’s more than one of you to keep track of, (moms and dads). We stay in a lot of Airbnb apartments when we travel in Europe, and many of them are second, third and fourth floor walkups (and since most start at ground-level “0”, thats actually third, fourth, and fifth- phew!). Lighter is always better. Try these tricks next time. Every little thing you do to keep yourself organized will make it so much easier to quickly, and easily pack it up, get dressed, and hit the road, so you can focus on exploring.