We've all been there. You're just going away for three days, but somehow you end up with six pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes and cape. Who needs a cape? The habitual over-packer is the only person who thinks they need a cape.
In an age of increased baggage fees and tiny overhead compartments, smart packing is more necessary than ever. The truth is that you don’t wear half the things you pack. We can all cut down the number of things we take with us on a trip, and we should all be able to travel with just a carry-on.
Here are eight sure-fire ways to pack smarter for your next trip:
1. Only bring a carry-on
Even if you have excellent airline status and the ability to check a bag for free, tell yourself you can only bring a carry-on with you on the plane. By consciously creating a limited amount of space you will naturally make smarter decisions about the things that you pack. You’ll weigh the utility of each item before just throwing it mindlessly into the bag.
2. Use your shoes for storage
Shoes are the perfect place to pack smaller items like bathing suits, socks, underwear and even makeup, freeing up extra space for something else you really do need.
3. Wear heavy clothes, jackets and boots on the plane
Don’t take up precious room in your bag for that sweater and jacket you’ll wear once you arrive at your destination. Wear your heaviest items of clothing on the plane. You can always stow them in the overhead compartment or under the seat if you get too hot.
4. You only need one bathing suit
Sure they’re tiny and they don’t take up much space, but every little bit counts. You never need more than one bathing suit on a trip unless you’re planning your very own beachside photo shoot. Then you might need two.
5. Two pairs of shoes — tops
Shoes (even women’s shoes) are typically the heaviest and bulkiest item in any suitcase. That’s why you need to give yourself a limit.
Choose your two most versatile pairs of shoes and leave the others at home. Pick one for day and one for night. You will never think about the shoes you've left at home once you finally make it to your destination.
6. Merino wool is your best friend in any climate
Merino wool is one of the best fabrics for traveling ever invented. It's not just comfortable, it's easily washable in a hotel sink and dries quicker than almost any other fabric. It’s moisture wicking and doesn’t hold a smell, so you never have to worry about sweating in it. Take it as a cover up for chilly nights on the beach or a base layer for a trek through colder climates.
7. Plan outfits in advance
The best way to avoid over-packing is to plan what you will wear on each day of a trip. Bring along items that can easily be swapped into several outfits and then plan the outfit for every single day.
Poor preparation can be a packer's worst enemy. A few minutes of careful thought will save you half the space in your bag. Making a list and writing it down will help keep you accountable.
8. Bring clothes you can leave at your destination
If you know you’ll be doing a lot of working out or activities where you don’t really need to dress up, bring along some older clothes that you had planned to donate to charity or throw away any way. Most hotels and resorts will help you find a way to donate them to a worthy organization at your destination.
This frees up the much needed space in your bag for purchases you make on your trip, something a lot of us tend to forget when we’re squeezing every last item into that suitcase back at home.