You know I love to pack light. I can't remember the last time I checked a bag, and regardless of where I'm headed I never take more than a carry-on. In fact, I've even managed to bring nothing more than a medium sized tote for almost a week away, and have even packed 2 weeks of items into a single carry-on. Needless to say, as I've refined my packing methods over the years, I've made plenty of mistakes and today I want to share those with you - along with some easy ways to combat them.
MISTAKE 1: LISTENING TO EVERYONE ELSE & NOT YOURSELF
Especially with the growing number of voices available on the internet, it's so easy to become overwhelmed with packing advise. Everywhere we turn someone new is telling us what we should and should not be packing and quite frankly most of it is wrong - my own advise included. So mistake number 1 is listening to everyone but yourself. Whether it's me or someone else you trust, just because something works for them doesn't mean it will work for you and especially in the age of minimalism and living lightly it's so easy to feel like an outcast if you choose to check a bag. So, if you prefer to check a bag and can't get behind the whole carry-on movement, then don't. Go ahead and check your bag. My only bit of advise here would be to find a system that works for you rather than against you. If traveling is stressful for you, then try and take some time before your next trip to smooth out some of the wrinkles in your packing and travel plan so that it's a more enjoyable experience. After all, travel is such a wonderful thing and if we're lucky enough to travel, we shouldn't let a few packing redundancies cause us to avoid it all together.
MISTAKE 2: NOT PACKING DUPLICATES
Here's the thing, just about any packing video you watch or article you read will neatly outline a list of essentials that can be mixed and matched for the entirety of your trip. These lists, much like capsule wardrobe guides will typically include only 1 of each given category - i.e. 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of pants etc.
The point of all of this is to make packing and downsizing seem manageable, effortless and ultimately aspirational. Who wants to be told they need to pack 3 pairs of jeans to have a great trip? That gets overwhelming really quickly, and we'd all much rather be the chic jet setter that can make one pair of jeans work for two weeks of travel.
The problem with this approach, much like what I mentioned earlier is that these guides are just that - guides. They are not meant to be taken literally and instead, they should always be tweaked to suit us and our individual needs. So whether you just prefer jeans over pants or won't be able to launder your clothes and hate the feel of third day jeans, I recommend that you pack (and buy) duplicates whenever you see fit.
MISTAKE 3: BRINGING ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
Much like my tip before, this next one is a tricky one to reconcile in the age of minimalism. I know I myself have advised that you only really need one white t for example, but the truth of the matter is that pieces like t-shirts, lightweight shorts and even slim cardigans and sweaters take up so little space in our suitcases that we should never feel guilty about throwing in a few extras.
You never know when you may want to wear your v-neck instead of your crewneck and you shouldn't feel like you're doing without just for the sake of meeting an arbitrary packing number. That said though, try not to go nuts and embrace the power of having a plan. For example, I find that planning my outfits ahead of time helps me pack within reason, and not make avoidable mistakes like bringing a wool sweater to a beach getaway.
MISTAKE 4: SKIMPING ON ACCESSORIES
You know I love accessories. I think they're an invaluable part of every great wardrobe and especially when traveling, I like to load up on scarves, necklaces and earrings.
Not only do they take up very little space in my suitcase, but they can instantly change up anything I'm wearing. Just by swapping my accessories, I can rewear the same dress multiple times without getting bored.
This becomes particularly useful when traveling so that I can cut down on the bulkier items and instead, sneak some scarves and jewelry into any nooks and crannies I have in your luggage.
MISTAKE 5: NOT WEIGHING YOUR SUITCASE
Most airline providers have size and weight restrictions for your luggage and too often we don't consider both.
Not only will choosing a lightweight bag ensure that you're not struggling through the airport to make it to your gate, but also that you're carry-on bag (that you worked so hard to pack) isn't checked at the last minute.
Also, be mindful of any changes in weight requirements as you make connecting flights. This is often something that needs to be triple checked when the second or third leg of your trip takes place abroad and often on a much smaller plane.
MISTAKE 6: NOT PACKING AHEAD OF TIME
Waiting until the last minute is one of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to packing. Do so causes you to feel rushed, forget things, overpack etc. For many of us, packing is already stressful and waiting until the last minute only makes it worse. To remedy this, I recommend starting at least a few days before your trip by checking the weather and starting to think about what you'll bring. In my experience, some work behind the scenes makes the whole packing experience a lot easier. Let's say, for example, that you love Pinterest but hate packing. You may benefit from spending more time on Pinterest getting outfit inspiration a few days or weeks before your trip, so that you have a clear idea of what you'll want to bring. That way, when you go to put everything in your suitcase you already have an idea of what to pack and aren't starting at square one with no time to spare.
MISTAKE 7: NOT FITTING IN
Next, I think it's valuable to try and fit in wherever you're traveling. I think it''s so important to take the time to research local customs and dress codes and then try to dress accordingly.
For example, we tend to dress far more casually in the United States than many places in Europe so I find that I personally need to elevate my daily looks slightly to feel appropriate. Now, this isn't to say that you should wear a costume while traveling, and I don't recommend trying to dress like a caricature of the society you're visiting, but I do think that a little cultural sensitivity is always welcome.
Using the example of Europe again, I think that dressing up more than you normally would is a small way of showing respect to the places you're visiting and doing that, along with trying to address people in their native language is a nice practice to adopt when traveling. Along those same lines, it's important to respect local customs and bring the necessary clothing for visiting places of worship etc.
MISTAKE 8: NOT CHECKING THE VOLTAGE OF YOUR ELECTRONICS
Next up is not checking the voltage of your electronics before throwing them in your bag. For me, this typically applies to my hair tools and it's such a small detail that's easily overlooked.
For example, when Jason and I visited Paris a few years ago I needed to swap my usual curling iron for a dual voltage tool (like my beloved GHDs) so that I could use it abroad. It's definitely worth triple checking this information before you leave so that you don't accidentally fry your favorite blowdryer or worse, cause electrical issues where you're staying. If you don't already have a dual voltage tool and don't want to buy one, most hotels and Airbnbs have them on hand for you to use.
MISTAKE 9: FORGETTING TO PACK ADAPTERS
Along those same lines, it's so easy to forget an adapter when traveling and they're essential to ensuring you can actually use the electronics you bring. You can find these everywhere these days and to ensure I never forget mine, I keep a few permanently stowed in my suitcase so they're always there when I need them.
MISTAKE 10: NOT CONSIDERING YOUR FABRICS
Last but not least, is not considering how well your fabrics will travel. I spend a lot of time here and on my YouTube channel discussing the benefits of natural fibers like cotton, wool and cashmere.
I love how these materials feel on the skin and they tend to regulate our body temperatures better than synthetics. For these and many other reasons, they're a wonderful part of every wardrobe and are also great for travel.
That said though, these fabrics do have a tendency to wrinkle and pill so it's important to either bring a steamer or ensure that you're hotel has an iron on hand to handle any creases that may arise. In addition to these wrinkle prone pieces, I tend to bring along more wrinkle-resistant items when traveling because they're no fuss and allow me to get ready quicker. I have a few jersey items that I love for this and recently I discovered Everlane's "Go Weave" technology which is virtually wrinkle-resistant. I picked up a pair of the Go Weave Slouch pants and can attest that they really do stay wrinkle free most of the day!
And there you have it! You can watch my corresponding video to the right and I'd love to know any packing tips you have.
Let me know in the comments down below or over on YouTube and like always, thanks so much for watching.