Every year I find myself traveling more and more. In college, I did a lot of back and forths between DC and NYC, and when I was working, I didn’t have the time or money for many trips. Now it feels like I have a trip planned at least every month. I’m so grateful to be able to travel, but I do find it exhausting. I almost always joke that I need a vacation from the vacation when I get home. I’m jealous of people who can come home from a weeklong trip and hop right back into their routine. Please, teach me your ways!
Above being tired from the actual travel, the one thing that drains me the most is packing. I don’t know why I find it so overwhelming, but I do. Every time I pull my suitcase out, I wish I lived in a Harry Potter world where I could shrink my entire closet into my suitcase or use Floo Powder to travel back to my closet whenever I forgot something. It’s on my mind all. the. time. Both leading up to and during the trip.
With every completed journey, I feel like I hone in on my packing skills a little more. I have done packing posts in the past; this one is just a tiny bit updated. I know I’m always going to be an over packer*, but I do get a little better every time. I definitely pack better now than I ever have in the past, mostly in part to all the practice I’ve been having.
* In high school, I went on a trip with my chorus group, and I packed all my outfits for each day perfectly… but then we get there, and my friends all have multiple outfits for every day and night. I felt so lame and left out. I will never pack one outfit per day again. Hahaha, high school insecurities STICK.
Whenever I go on a bigger trip, I always start a packing pile. It’s normally a chair in my office, and it’s not totally streamlined, but it works. Leading up to the trip, I start to “collect” the outfits I’m going to wear and things I don’t want to forget. Besides just getting a head start on the packing, it helps ensure that those pants I want to bring don’t end up in the wash the night before. In addition to the list I have going in an Excel spreadsheet (because I’m that person), it also helps me figure out what exactly I need before a trip. Do I need to buy anything? Is the pile getting so big that I can visually see gross overpacking?
The one thing that I implemented this year that is something I recommend no matter how often or how far you travel is to have a “go bag” packed and ready. I used to forget toiletries all the time, and now I don’t because I have a bag packed with travel sized items at all times. (The additional bonus besides not having to pack it, is that you also don’t have to unpack it!) The “go bag” is necessary for overnight trips and long trips. I end up using it at least once a week.
I have a large cosmetic bag that I store in my bathroom with travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, makeup wipes, q-tips/cotton squares, ponytail holders, razor, brush, moisturizer, perfume, shampoo, and lotion. I pack my makeup separately but having all my toiletries ready to go makes packing feel so much easier. Just not having to repeat “don’t forget your razor, don’t forget your razor” four thousand times in my head after showering reduces my stress!
Now… I know packing tips are generally around how to pack less. This tip doesn’t fall into that category. No matter where I’m going, I always bring a comfy outfit. More often than not it’s a pair of leggings or joggers with a short sleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt. Even if I’m going to Florida, I bring a sweatshirt. At the end of a long day of travel, I like to slip into something super comfortable. Maybe I wear it while I get ready in the hotel before going out. I might even throw it on to run to the Starbucks down the corner. Or for when I’m sitting down catching up on email during downtime.
I will squish a comfortable outfit into the bottom of my laptop bag if I have to. It’s coming with me no matter what!
If you haven’t gathered from this post (or really this entire blog’s history), I’m a control freak. That’s probably why packing is such a nightmare for me. I want to make sure that I have everything I need at all times. Unfortunately, things come up. There might be unseasonal, unpredictable cold weather or maybe I just plain forgot something. I try to remind myself, that I can always purchase what I forgot there. I repeat it like a mantra. Before my “go bag” hack, I used to basically buy hair brushes and razors every trip because I inevitably forgot both.
No matter what, I can pretty much buy anything I need when I get there. Whether it’s a cheap $10 pair of headphone (they’re not noise canceling, but they work) or a pair of flip-flops for the beach. It’s not the end of the world to forget something!
The last tip I have for you today is actually something to take note of when you’re back from your trip. When you get home, take note when you unpack of what you wore and what you didn’t. This always helps me pack better for the next trip. It’s kind of like a post-game analysis. I take a mental note of things I never need and the things I’m glad I threw in last minute.