I have always been a girl who loves too much. I love people too much, I love food too much, I love shoes and clothes way too much. Which makes packing for anything a challenge from the get-go. I always pack (you guessed it) too much, and then I have to schlep a gazillion heavy bags to wherever I’m headed. Not. Fun.
But the contradiction lies in the fact that I love packing. There’s something about it that makes me feel so productive and grown-up. Maybe I associate packing with adventure and journeys so I get all excited when I pack. All I know is that packing makes me feel official and gives me purpose.
That’s not to say it’s easy. It definitely isn’t, due very much to my original problem of over-packing. Even when my mom used to pack for me, I would somehow find a way to sneak more and more things into my luggage. My mom hasn’t packed a suitcase for me in close to a decade, so the blame is falling more and more on me, and now that I live in a dorm room and not at home, it is much more imperative for me to pack light for my own convenience and sanity.
I spent five weeks as a counselor at a sleep-away camp called Camp Saint Paul this summer, and even though I was only supposed to stay for four weeks, I somehow managed to pack my suitcase with enough clothing to last me months, even though I had convinced myself that I packed light this year. How in the world could I have been so wrong?
So now, I’m limiting myself.
I’m spending the weekend in Connecticut at an Orthodox Christian Fellowship retreat (more details to come soon!), and I am traveling by train, so it was incredibly important that I pack in a smart and efficient manner. I knew exactly what I needed, so I packed no more and no less. I packed:
- two T-shirts
- one pair of jeans
- one pair of joggers
- one dress
- one pair of ballet flats
- one rain jacket
- one set of pajamas
- four underwear
- toiletries: BB cream, mascara, eyeliner, makeup wipes, toothpaste, toothbrush, perfume, deodorant, pads, a razor
- a pillow
- a blanket
- a sleeping bag
- a journal
- my planner
- my Kindle
- my camera
- notes to study (I have a media law midterm next week)
That’s enough for an outfit on Saturday, an outfit for liturgy on Sunday, and a travel outfit for when I leave the church on Sunday. I’m honestly really proud of myself for the surprisingly light and efficient packing that I did, so here are some of my tips and tricks on how to pack smart!
- Make a list: Making a list of what you need to pack without a doubt makes your life easier. It lets you check things off as you go so you can be certain you have everything you need. When I was packing my suitcase for Connecticut, I nearly forgot pajamas. Like, my suitcase was packed and zipped and ready to go, all without pajamas. Thankfully, I consulted my list again and realized my mistake.
- Mix and match: Mixing and matching the pieces of your outfit can make packing a million times easier. The less items you need to pack the better, right? Now, I’m not saying pack one underwear or shirt and wear it for the entire duration of your trip, but planning your outfits around re-wearable accessories like shoes will make your packing lighter. I packed one pair of shoes that I need for liturgy on Sunday, and the rest of the time I will be wearing the shoes I’m traveling in, which is my maroon Vans.
- Know your itinerary: Knowing what activities you might be preparing in will help you know exactly what you need to pack. Since I knew I’d be attending a church service, for example, I knew I needed to pack a dress and nice shoes. This ensures that I won’t feel out of place or be uncomfortable in any situation presented to me while I’m away.
- Early preparation: Getting your packing done earlier instead of waiting till the last minute helps you ensure that you don’t forget anything while getting your things together. Like my issue with the pajamas, I would’ve been much more likely to forget them if I had packed after all of my classes instead of the night before.
- Check the weather: Checking the weather of your intended destination will help you pack clothes that you’ll be comfortable in. I knew the forecast for Connecticut this weekend predicted rain, so I made sure to pack my fave raincoat. Even if I’m not outside that much, I’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
- Layer: On the topic of climate, you may not know how it will be inside your destination. Sometimes it’s freezing cold, other times the heat is blasting. By planning out outfits that you can layer with, like a T-shirt and a sweatshirt or sweater, you make sure that you’re prepared for anything.
- Solve the puzzle: This might be both the hardest and funnest part. Packing is indeed a puzzle. You need to make the most of the space you have so you can pack as much as possible. The key to this is finding a way to condense your belongings as much as possible and then fit them together almost like Tetris. I tried to accomplish this for this particular trip by stuffing my pillow at the bottom of my suitcase and then packing everything on top of it. I rolled almost all of my clothes so that they would take up the least amount of space possible and could be stacked. Anything that I didn’t fold got placed on top of what was already there. My toiletries sat in any empty spaces. Don’t forget to take advantage of any zipped compartments your suitcase may have!
I’m super glad I got to have this experience with packing because I’m heading on a trip to Washington, D.C. in early November, and even though I’ll need to pack totally different items, this really taught me how to pack more efficiently. I hope you guys have some awesome trips coming up and can use these packing tricks to make your experience a little less stressful! Let me know about any cool adventures you’re taking and any packing stories, mishaps or tips you may have. Happy and safe travels, Tasters!
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