How to learn to pack light

When it comes to packing, people fall into one of two camps. There are those that only pack a passport and a toothbrush (seriously, I met a guy who did this) and those that would pack their sofa and cushions if they could.

As a person who packs as if I’m taking off on the Titanic for six months, I learned after my most recent trip to America, that I really need to learn to pack lightly, but as a panicky packer, this doesn’t always feel easy. I take some pride in being the person who always has plasters or floss or nail clippers (even if I can’t always find where they are) and I hate the thought of not being able to find something that may go on to be essential at some stage of the trip.

So, how can you reform? How can you learn to pack lightly?

Write a list

In the same way that writing a shopping list prevents you from splurging on unneeded items, a packing list hones your focus in on what you truly need (and want) to pack. Divide the list into subsections like essentials (for your passport, any visas and credit cards etc), toiletries, entertainment and any other categories that you deem necessary.

Cull the list to within an inch of its life

You’ve got to be cruel to cull. Like a writer, you need to be able to kill your darlings. Some of your most flowery sentences will be sent to the slammer. I always bring my kindle (every.single.time). I NEVER read it. I am slowly learning not to pack it just in case I magically decide that I want to read it. I NEVER do, because once I get travelling, I’m too distracted by being active. If you know that you won’t use your laptop, Nintendo 3DS, perfume or notebook, don’t bring them.

Remember, only the essentials matter

When it comes to travel, you only really need a few essential items. Your passport, visas, cards, some cash, a travel adaptor, your phone, medications and a portable charger being the most crucial in my mind. As long as you have the above items, you can purchase anything that you may need or want upon arrival. In that sense, you don’t need to stress too much about what you pack. Just keep focused on essential items.

Separate need from want

You NEED a passport, you want seven books. Need trumps want when it comes to packing. You may want to pack 17 dresses, but will you really wear them all?

Be cautious with clothes

When it comes to clothes, I’ll pack several versions of the same thing. Shorts, dresses, trousers. You usually only wear the same pair anyway. In Oregon, I wore the same jumper three days in a row…

Focus on occasion. If you’re planning on going out, pack a nice dress and wedges. If you are camping, ensure you have warm and comfortable clothes. It’s good to pack versatile clothing items. Pack something for when the weather gets cold or hot, if you fancy swimming or if you are going hiking. You do not need a hundred going out shoes or bangles.

The only items you can never have too much of in my opinion are underwear and socks!

Think of future you

Present you is happily packing, but future you will actually have to lug this thing around, or get someone else to. Be practical and don’t make future you mad.

All my love

K

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