Lately, I've been asking a lot of people what the hardest part of travel is for them. Aside from planning, the overwhelming response has been...packing!
You can't actually leave without doing it, so there are a 4 different Packing Styles:
1. Early 2. Late 3. Under 4. Over
...and you can, of course, pair these together in any combination for extra fun! I've been all of these, in every combination! Let's start by making sure we all know what's happening here and then get really on top of the appropriately timed and covered packing process! No names will be shared in order to protect the innocent. Just kidding... all of these examples are from my actual life. HA!
The Early Packer
Early packing happens because you're either SO excited about your trip that you just can't stand it and packing seems to be the only thing that makes your trip feel closer to reality - OR - you're so worried you're going to forget something, or some outfit you want to bring will be dirty when it's the "actual" time to pack, that you go ahead and start "reserving" things for your trip!
The early packer may also have travel trauma from having once been a late packer and in that late packing, under packed, leaving out a necessity like... mmmm... shoes? In attempt to NOT experience this again, said traumatized traveler over corrects and early packs.
The Late Packer
"Oh, dear! It's time to leave in an hour and I haven't packed. Guess I HAVE to do it now." The late packer may simply have been SO busy that they can't handle the mental capacity of packing until it's absolutely necessary. It's also possible that late packing is a symptom of overwhelm and making decisions about WHAT to pack.
The Under Packer
Remember last time when you checked two bags and had two carry-ons for a three-day weekend and everyone made fun of you? That's NOT going to be you this time, right? Welcome again to travel trauma, the game where we try to do the opposite of what didn't work last time and end up completely under-prepared. Once you arrive, you're frantically googling for the closest Wal-Mart so you can procure the forgotten items, while trying to figure out if you can fit more stuff into the small roll bag you brought as your only luggage. Don't worry, you didn't check any bags, so you can always buy a cheap suitcase if you need more space. Amiright?!
The Over Packer Please tell me I'm not the only one that has ever overpacked because I late packed? Don't have time to think about what I need, better just throw a bunch of stuff in. It's fine. Or maybe, you have a case of the "what ifs!" It might rain, but it might also be SUPER hot. I definitely need bandaids, and probably my own hair dryer, and what if I wake up and decide I want to work out - I better pack some gym shoes. I might get a wild hair and want to go out, so I should probably pack a .... oh, what the hell! I'll just add another suitcase and throw one of each kind of shoe in there...just in case.
You're Ok, I'm Ok, We're All Ok.
Anyone feeling personally attacked yet? HA! Let me give you some relief here - there really isn't a right or wrong way to pack; but, there are ways to make it less stressful, no matter which pitfalls you have mastered. Here's the deal, packing is both an art and a science. HOW you pack, WHEN you pack, WHAT you pack- there is a seemingly endless list of variables to consider and it can make the idea of taking a trip absolutely miserable and we do NOT want that. How can you step up your packing skills and start your trip without packing dread?
This is something I talk a lot about - intention. Doing something on purpose, at a chosen moment, with a chosen method. It will make all the difference. Know how you buy less at the grocery store when you have a list? And you buy less crap when you avoid shopping on an empty stomach? Packing is a bit the same! Let's dig in on that...
Have a List
Confession: I'm not great at lists for my life. I admire people that live by their lists; but, I just never mastered this for life. For travel tho? I got lists for that. My favorite way to make packing decisions when I'm going somewhere new is by using the Travels' Checklist. I like it because I can put my own trip parameters in and in spits out a categorized list that I can also add/remove items from based on my preferences. It saves me the trouble of writing out and having to remember things like my car charger for my phone (do you know how many of those dumb things I've bought at the first Walgreens I encounter leaving the airport?).
Pack in Groups
My husband has very specific underwear math. If it's a 4-day trip, his math goes like this: "1 pair, 2 pair, 3 pair, 4 pair, sh*T myself." And then he'll pack 5 pairs of underwear. Very scientific.
I have a slightly different approach, but you do what works for you, boo.
I pack in outfits. ESPECIALLY when I know I have trip that involves multiples wardrobe types. I lay out my entire outfit from top to bottom, with each outfit getting it's own spot. This image is how I packed for a trip to Vegas. Now, I did bring a lot more shoes on this trip than I normally would; but, Vegas, guys!
For the things I need on a daily basis, that I don't want to pack up before I leave, I create a staging areas so I don't have to run around collecting them frantically. I may have a small "pile" in the kitchen for my phone chargers, vitamins, wallet; and a separate area on my bathroom for last minute toiletries like deodorant, hairbrush, makeup. If an item can't really go in a staging area; but, I know I'll need to pack it at the last minute, I jot that item down on a small sticky note and place it in a staging area. Those little stickies have saved me a million times.
I know packing is stressful. I don't think anyone really enjoys it; but, you can't leave until you have your stuff packed. I stand with you in solidarity in your packing pain and hope above all else that whether you're packed a week before, or throwing all of your belongings into a suitcase as you frantically try to get out the door, that you HAVE. FUN. Travel is about the memories and the new experiences. Shoot! One of my favorite memories is the time I arrived at my hotel and realized I had packed NO pants of any kind and the only shoes I brought were the ones I was wearing - and they were some gnarly flip flops. I love to laugh about that story and others like it. I've also packed for enough trips to know that I'm NEVER going to have gotten it just right - and it's completely ok.
Happy Packing, Adventurers!