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Part 4: Conquer the Overwhelming Feeling of Packing

Stefan Loble

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve most likely read all of our advice (like what to pack for a trip or how to pack it). But you still might feel stuck.

Which brings us to ask, why is this so hard?

By Way of A Story

My stepmother is well traveled and prides herself on packing light. I recall a time where a friend of hers remarked, “Wow, how do you manage to pack so few things?” In response, my stepmother sent her friend a packing list. The idea was, follow the list and you’ll be good to go, for any occasion.

Easy, right? Not so fast…

On their next trip, there is my stepmother’s friend at the airport… with a huge suitcase.

“You didn’t use my packing list?” my stepmother asked. “I did,” the friend replied, “but I added to it.”

The question is, why did she add a few things? The reason: she didn’t believe that the packing list would be enough because she couldn’t resist the what-ifs:

  • What if we decide to walk the gardens of Versailles instead of visiting a museum? I’ll need a different outfit.
  • What if we get tickets to the theater?
  • What if it rains?

Instead of packing more, the right answer is the following:

So What?

Of the above challenges, there are none that can’t be solved with a simple, elegant, and versatile capsule wardrobe or versatile travel outfit that’s ready to tackle any activity that may arise.

Think of something comfortable enough to be outside, and nice enough for a fine meal. It isn’t that hard. I know this from experience because that kind of versatility is behind everything we make.

A lightweight packing plan will fall apart when you gild the lily. If you must have the absolute most elegant outfit for the theater in Paris, if you must have a new thing to wear every day, if you must pack for every scenario...if that’s the case, no one can help you.

My advice is to remember that style is often about looking effortless, and the confidence you gain from simplifying your wardrobe and carrying less will show – and look good.

If Necessary, You Can Find What You Need

A man wearing a travel backpack.

If you are able to get unexpected tickets to the theater in Paris, what would be more fun than buying a new dress or shirt and tie for the occasion from a French boutique?

Too often, we over prepare when we can usually find what we need along the way.

You may have read my glove story from France, where I found a mountain bike to ride to the top of the ski hill. I had decided not to bring gloves on the trip for the sake of space and a streamlined trip packing list. But faced with this opportunity, I needed something to keep my hands warm.

So I bought a pair of gloves to do it, and they remain a favorite to this day. I think of that trip, and the ride, every time I wear them.

If you only might use something, you don’t need to carry it with you. You’ll likely be able to find it along the way, or survive without it.

Fitting Everything In Your Bag

Often, the final piece of information that will help you decide, “should I bring this extra sweater?” will be how the items fit in your bag.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to not bring something once it doesn’t fit?

Dropping a few items can reduce the size of the bag you take, which makes everything weigh less, and that can mean the difference between checking and carry on.

You can apply this trick to your whole packing list by deciding to use a smaller bag first, and pretty soon, you’ll have managed to narrow down your items to the necessities that fit.

There is no right way to pack. And, there shouldn’t be any judgment if you hit a roadblock in meeting your lightweight packing dreams. Want to check a rolling suitcase every trip? Go for it.

But if you want to revise your approach, we’re here to help with these packing tips. We want to spur hope that packing can be stress free, and what you lug around can be different, if you dare.

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