I have a weird confession to make: I love packing. And even better: I love under packing for trips. I love the Tetris game of making my rolled sweaters fit around hats and shoes, I love thumbing through hanging clothes in my closet and imagining how I'll look standing in front of travel-pamphlet-like places, and I love hearing that zip of a bag when it's all done and squared away. I think the main reason I love it so much is because I never struggle with the over-packing dance.
I don't roll up to the airport with a fleet of luggage behind me, I've never felt that tummy-drop feeling of hearing the word "overweight" uttered at baggage, and I don't think I own a suitcase bigger than the standard carry on. Lugging and heaving bags is overrated, so I choose to bring the bare minimum with me on trips. But, having said that, I know I'm not in a group of many when it comes to that train of thought. A lot of us are notorious over packers — and while some of us are okay pushing suitcases the size of middle schoolers — others are not. And if you're here looking for help on the reign back on your "eight outfits for a long weekend" type of problem, then you've come to the right place. Below are seven ways to pack less and have more while traveling — because you don't need a lot of options to make gorgeous, comfy outfits.
1. Be OK With Wearing Repeat Outfits
If you don't want to be stuck lugging around a 30 pound bag throughout your whole trip, become okay with the idea of wearing repeat outfits. I know it can be tempting to envision an outfit for every situation, but sometimes just wearing a simple turtleneck and jeans throughout the whole day does the trick — especially if it means you won't be stuck with a bursting suitcase.
Fashion writer Liza Graves at style site Fashion Blueprint wrote, "To pack lightly, I do have to let go of a couple of things: I will wear the same clothing more than once (though I plan it so that I can mix and match them into new outfits), and I may not have the perfect pair of shoes for every outfit."
To make sure you stick with this, create a formula: Say you're going on a trip for seven days, and you'd like seven outfits. Cut that number in half and instead choose three outfits with pieces that could be easily mix and matched together, giving you three bottoms and three tops. Boom. Light suitcase.
2. Try Packing Only Your Favorite Outfits
You know those go-to looks you go for in your closet when you're going out or are about to tackle a day full of errands? The ones you love to wear over and over again and feel confident and put together in? Try packing only those in your suitcase, ensuring that you'll feel happy repeating them for a couple days and will know they work.
Travel blogger Megan van Groll mentioned on her travel blog Travel. Paint. Repeat., "I’ve found that I always have a favorite few outfits I tend to recycle over and over each few months, even at home, so I bring those and not much else." Whether it's a favorite knit, a great top + scarf combo, or a beloved dress, try packing only your favorite outfits and you'll become more okay with the idea of wearing repeat looks.
3. Pack According To Shoes
Instead of buckling to temptation and bringing all the shoes, instead sit down and chose one pair that you think will work well for your trip. Then, to avoid the "these shoes don't go with my outfit" meltdown, build the outfits you're packing around your shoes. If something doesn't go with them, then it doesn't get packed.
Van Groll explained, "Few things are more bulky in luggage than shoes, so try to take 2 pairs at most. I tend to plan my outfits around black versus brown shoes and purses...and it pays to choose just one of those options rather than trying to bring both." If all your outfits match your one pair of shoes to begin with, you won't really need to add any other options.
4. Always Wear Your Bulkiest Pieces
Have a super thick sweater you're bringing, or a clunky pair of boots? Instead of trying to fit them in your suitcase, wear them during your travel days to conserve space. Van Groll explained, "If I want to bring a pair of boots on a trip, I’ll be sure to plan my outfits so I’m always wearing them on travel days, leaving more room in my luggage." You'll save a ton of room and weight this way.
5. Keep In Mind: There Are Stores Where You're Going
I understand that nervous feeling you get when you stare at your packed suitcase, all zipped up and ready by the door. As you bite your fingernail you think, "But what if I need that cardigan I vetoed" or "What if I regret not packing that third dress?" Instead of submitting to that small spurt of panic and repacking your bag, just remember: There will be stores where you're going. If you end up feeling like you need another outfit option, you can always buy one there.
Apartment Therapy agreed, "Unless you are going to Antarctica or camping, there will be stores where you are going and you can always get what you need or forgot there." So be okay with the idea of packing less then you need — if you regret leaving something behind, you can always buy a fun, new replacement.
6. Only Pack Your Most Versatile Pieces
We all have workhorses in our closets: The pieces that can be mix and matched, dressed up or down, without much effort at all. Pack a suitcase full of those pieces, and you'll have stylish outfits for days without bulking up the contents. Try to resist the urge to pack that one pair of pants that only goes with that one shirt, or the one dress that'll only be worn for one dinner, and instead go for items that'll move easily between occasions.
Travel editor Reema Desai at lifestyle site The Everygirl wrote, "The key to looking great without packing your entire closet is: stick to one color palette while choosing items that can be worn in different ways, and more than once. That lightweight sweater that looks just as good over a dress for dinner as it does casually with jeans? Pack it!" If you only pack pieces that can easily move between each other, you won't have to bring as many options but will have an endless amount of layering and mixing possibilities.
7. Do The Painful Thing: Subtract Ruthlessly
This one is going to hurt the heart a little, but if you want a light suitcase you'll find it worth it. Once you're all done and packed, sit back on your heels, look at your neatly packed case, and take out three things: One bottom, one top, and one accessory. I know by this point you've selected everything carefully and with great thought, but the chances are big that you won't even miss those pieces once your trip begins.
I always do this before every trip, and in the end I feel so thankful as I'm packing a lighter, less crammed suitcase before moving on to my next city. So just do it: Cut ruthlessly, and put your hands over your eyes if you have to. Then walk through the airport enjoying that light suitcase!