1. Don’t ProcrastinateThe easiest way to over-pack is to procrastinate. Whenever you leave your packing to the night before your departure, you end up packing more than you need so as not to forget anything. (And let’s be honest, you will probably still forget a thing or two in the rush.) If you simply take the time to start strategically packing a couple days before your trip, you’ll not only pack more effectively, but also increase your chance of remembering everything you need for the trip.
2. Wool > CottonIf you have the choice between bringing wool or cotton clothing, err on the side of wool (unless, of course, you’re going to the Dominican Republic in summer, for example). Wool naturally rids itself of odor, resists wrinkling, and regulates body temperature more effectively than cotton. You won’t have to pack as much and you can fold it (or not) anyway you want. Like to walk around the city you’re in and scope out your surroundings? That cotton sweater will need a wash tomorrow, whereas the wool one is ready to roll.
3. Consolidate Electronics
Look, it’s 2016. Do you really need to bring a 15” laptop, iPad, Kindle, and DVD player with you when you travel? Your iPhone can do it all, and it will save you an incredible amount of space and effort if you just let your pocket-sized device (with an ultra thin case) handle the heavy lifting. Bring an external battery to keep it from dying if you have to, but try to consolidate as many extraneous electronic devices as you can into your iPhone.
4. Always Bring Flip-Flops
Flip-flops are the most versatile footwear you can bring on a trip. Whether you’re walking on the beach, need to quickly run out to get something, or walk around your resort/hotel, flip-flops come in handy. Most importantly, they take up next to no space in your luggage and are nearly weightless. Plus, nothing feels better than strolling around on vacation in a bathrobe, Ray-Bans, and flip-flops like you’re The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
5. Minimize Toiletries
To know you have everything you might want at some point on your trip is a comforting feeling, but it’s a poor use of precious weight/space. Packing your entire bathroom cabinet in your bag is an easy way to overload on things you ultimately won’t need. Remember to bring only your essentials: your toothbrush, razor, deodorant, contacts/glasses, etc. Even then, most common toiletries can be purchased at your destination, so there’s really no reason to overpack.
6. Avoid Wheeled Suitcases
If you can feasibly avoid using a wheeled suitcase, do it! Not only will having to carry your luggage force you to travel light, but you’ll be more versatile on your trip. Gotta climb multiple flights of stairs or cross over a grassy meadow? No problem with a backpack or handbag.
7. Prioritize Undergarments
Any expert traveler will tell your their most indispensable clothing items are their undergarments--socks, underwear, and undershirts. Don’t overload on extra flannels and pairs of jeans, which ultimately will weigh you down without adding functional utility. You can wear overshirts and jeans for consecutive days, but you really don’t want to be rocking the same pair of boxers for a week. You’re not Matt Damon stranded on Mars, OK? Clean underwear is mandatory; there are other people around.
Photo credit: Allen Walker