Packing Light = Packing Right

***Disclaimer: Packing preferences are a wildly debated subject in the Cruise & Tour office and as you will see, Mike leans towards extreme underpacking. We, in the prepared packing camp, want to be clear this does not represent the entire company’s viewpoint. Though we do think it would be great fun if you shared your thoughts on Facebook and joined in on the debate! – The Customer Relations Team***

Overpacking is a tragic condition that affects many. According to a survey by British travel website Holiday Hypermarket, “91% of females never wear all the clothes they bring on vacation. For the typical weeklong trip, they lug along an average 36 items of clothing and between six and eight pairs of shoes. They end up wearing less than half of everything they bring.” But according to a survey by Holiday Extras, “80% of men claim to return from vacation with more than 20% of their clothes unworn.” So basically, it can happen to anyone.

Are you one of those people? Do you routinely realize that you brought things you didn’t wear and hence didn’t need?

Overpacking is improper packing, it’s not figuring out what you actually need or mapping out your trip and just bringing a bunch of random clothes that are unaccounted for. Your closet isn’t supposed to travel with you! There are enormous benefits to packing smart and not checking a bag. The most obvious ones are that you will never lose your bag (if that has happened to you, you know how much it ruins a trip) and you won’t pay costly baggage fees, saving you a lot of money that can be better spent. You’ll also be less burdened by heavy bags while navigating an airport or new place (streets on the way to your hotel) and while others make the long trek to the baggage claim and stand there waiting anxiously for their bag to appear from the flaps, you breeze right to the exit and are on your way. This saves you a ton of time on both ends. Less money, less stress and less time spent at the airport, who doesn’t want that?

If you just can’t avoid checking a bag, you should still pack light. It makes things easier to find and leaves you extra room for things you buy along the way.

It is absolutely unnecessary to check a bag for any trip less than a week. You can fit SO MUCH in a carry-on suitcase, easily enough outfits for a week, ten days, or even two weeks. Checking a bag should be a last resort, only for very long trips (a week minimum) or if you need to bring special bulky outfits like suits that don’t fit in a carry-on. If you do need to check a bag, you can definitely share a checked suitcase between two people in addition to carry-on bags. Unless it’s a month-long excursion there is no way you both need to fill a huge checked suitcase.

I know some of you may think this all sounds crazy, but I am living proof that it works. I have traveled extensively, just about every week for a couple of years, including some trips two weeks or more, and I only checked a bag one time. That one time I checked a bag, it got lost. It was returned to me by a sketchy-looking white van over a week after returning home. That was when I vowed never to check a bag again, and I have never had an issue not having enough clothes. People I travel with are often amazed by my lack of a checked bag for long trips, but it’s really easy. The fact is people simply overpack and pack unnecessary items. If you don’t have a plan for it, don’t bring it. NO “what if” or “just in case” items should ever be packed, you don’t need them!

Here are some tips to help you liberate yourself from that behemoth of a bag and start living the unchecked life:

  • Lay out everything you plan to take. Ask yourself why you’re taking each item. If you say “what if” or “just in case” or you plan to only use it once during an extended trip, it’s not a necessity. Or for severe overpackers, just remove half of the items.
  • Don’t bring extra outfits and you should wear things more than once, especially pants! Two pairs are plenty for short trips.
  • Wear your bulkiest clothing items on the flight, especially your bulkiest shoes (boots!) and jacket. This will free up significant space in your carry-on and gives you an extra layer for a chilly plane.
  • Pack no more than two pairs of shoes. Shoes take up a lot of room so be especially selective with them when packing. A nice pair of sneakers are the most versatile shoe option and a light pair of loafers will suffice for any dressy occasions.
  • Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothes (which fits in a carry-on). For longer trips, plan to do a load of laundry somewhere along the way.
  • Pack clothes that can be color-coordinated with everything else in your travel wardrobe. If it doesn’t work in multiple outfits, it shouldn’t come with you.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them. It minimizes wrinkles and maximizes space.

By Mike Capalbo
Group Products Specialist