I was going to start this post by confessing to all of you that I am an overpacker but then I realized that there isn’t any reason that that statement requires a confession. It’s not like it’s a sin to be an over packer, I honestly thing it’s probably better than to be an under packer, so why, oh why, is there such an ingrained stigma that condescends upon over packers (please note slight but not total humor). I for one have always gathered to be over prepared, mostly because I suffer a great of anxiety when I feel as though I am underprepared. I also do suffer from a bit of travel anxiety, which means I’m already over thinking every step pf the trip and worrying about it, so why not try and be prepared for everything I worry about. I try to look at overpacking as my way to control the teeny tiny part of life that is a tally under my control. Forget things like controlling the weather, and time and love, no, as long as I can control what goes into my suitcase and bags, then I’m good.
I don’t usually find overpacking to be a probe, mostly because I’m a rather boujee traveler, so usually I can pack whatever I need, plus whatever I want, plus things I don’t want but feel like I need to bring, and then a few extra things just for good measure, and be perfectly fine because my suitcase is only going from house to plane to hotel to plane to house. Easy, simple, not strenuous. Recently (because I’m broke) I’ve begun to dabble into a different kind of traveling, the kind that requires you to pack light. Well let’s be honest, truly packing light is what backpackers do and that absolutely terrifies me. Traveling light for me was one carry on suitcase and a backpack to last two weeks. That was by no means truly traveling light but just roll with me okay.
I went into packing with the mindset that it was going to be horrible and I probably wasn’t going to be able to fit everything into my suitcase and it was just to be a whole ordeal that would probably make me cry (you know, a positive outlook and such) but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much less painful it actually was. Granted it did feel a little like pulling teeth, but I had a very supportive and patient friend with me –bless your soul Ky– who withstood all my batty reasons why I needed to bring fifty pairs of shoes and not one less but still managed to only let me pack basically what I needed, plus one or two extras to sooth my anxiety. If you’re also an overpacker and you have to pack light for some reason, my biggest suggestion is that you definitely do it with a friends help, preferably someone who isn’t also an overpacker because that would just be a mess.
The other biggest thing I noticed that really helped me pack was making lists (with mental and physical) so that when it came to dooms day, I had some semblance of an idea to what I actually needed to pack. I find this easier when the destination is a beach because honestly, the majority of you suitcase can just be swim ware and you’ll be set. Colder destinations provide more of a challenge and I’m going to be very honest with you, it’s not a challenge I’ve successfully completed. If you have, then hey, props to you because it’s really damn hard. Any who, obviously the entire suitcase can’t just be swim ware, but if you stick to that general theme of the trip, the rest of the stuff kind of works itself out. I started working on my list about a week before I left (ample shopping time incase I could convince myself I needed something), laying out how many days and nights we would be there as well as what activities we had already planned or knew we were going to partake in. This helped me get a gist of what kinds of clothing I would need, so all that was left was the hard part, actually packing it all.
I feel like if you’re an overpacker who is going on trip that requires minimal luggage, it’s always important to remember that 1. you can do laundry while you’re there and 2. stores are a thing so worst comes to worst, you can buy what you need. Keeping the possibility of laundry in mind is a great way to cut your packing down in size. There’s no need to take a full set of underwear if you can just wash the ones you’ve got (or so I’ve been told). Whenever I go on a longer haul trip, I always bring a little pack of Tide soap pods that I can burst in the sink and wash my clothes with. They’re relatively small and cheap so they don’t really make a dent in your packing space nor your wallet. When it comes to shopping, I try to be prepared enough before I go so I don’t have to emergency shop once I reach my destination, but it does soothe some of my nerves knowing that if by some freak accident, I forget my toothbrush, I will indeed be able to find another. Perks of capitalism, I guess.
The final thing I’ve found when it comes to being an overpacker who has to pack light is to figure out what stems your need to overpack. I know that I have a perpetual fear of not being prepared and that largely manifests when I’m going somewhere outside of my comfort zone. I’m very much the mom friend, I always have pretty much everything someone could ever need in the deep depths of my Mary Poppins-like bag and then an extra just in case. A lot of the time, packing light just comes down to the mental game of not feeling petrified if I forget to bring something and have a wave of panic because I’m unprepared. Sometimes it’s okay to be unprepared, it makes life a little more interesting and also opens the door to some rather interesting opportunities.
Are you an overpacker or can you travel light without a problem?
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