Are You Packing Too Much?


(This Article was recently in Smart Traveler)

Do you struggle to make it through the airport with your unusually large suitcase?

Do baggage fees dominate your credit card statements? Does your luggage frequently come apart at the seams?

If you’re giving a sombre nod, you’re packing too much and it’s time to lose the dead weight. To alleviate your packing troubles, let’s uncover the root of your problem. Here are 10 factors that could be the cause of your overpacking ills, along with some handy tips for lightening your load.

You’re packing for the worst-case scenario

When in doubt, leave it out. Will you really need your swimmers on your business trip? Realistically, will you have an occasion to wear long jeans on your cruise around the Pacific?

Yes, unexpected things will happen on your trip. But contingency planning — from travel insurance to backup copies of identification — shouldn’t extend to the entire contents of your bag.

Pack the essentials for the things that are by and large certain: the activities you have planned, the predicted weather, the prescribed length of your trip. In the event that a cataclysmic pole shift causes the weather in your destination to drastically change, you can always buy warmer clothes while there.

Your bag is too big

If your bag is enormous, you’ll be hard-pressed not to fill it to the brim. The solution is to use a smaller bag to impose reasonable limits on yourself.

Once you’ve bound yourself to the confines of a 56cm vessel, you’ll be compelled to pack a lot less. Plus, a lightweight, good-quality piece of baggage that is well within major airlines’ baggage-size requirements is a worthy investment.

Let’s be honest: if your bag has a lot of space to play with, you’ll find something to fill the space with. Opt for a smaller bag. Picture: iStock

You’re under the tyranny of the weather

Trips through multiple climates or during transitional seasons may lead you to overcompensate and overpack. An April afternoon in Europe could yield anything from wind and ice-cold rain to balmy sunshine. So does that mean you should pack a complete outfit for each possible weather scenario? Not exactly.

The trick is to bring lightweight pieces that layer well. For example, a thin jumper packs the same warming punch of bulky outwear when layered over a warm long-sleeved tee and topped with a cosy scarf. (Find more weather-related packing tips here.)

You’re a procrastinator

It’s essential to create a packing list before leaving for a long journey. For procrastinators, though, this comes as a challenge. You can’t pull together a smart list of things to bring when you’re throwing the contents of your closet into a suitcase several hours before your flight takes off.

Eliminate the temptation to put off packing until the eleventh hour by focusing on the negative consequences of your procrastination. If you don’t think ahead and come up with a good plan, you’re going to be stuck with an overpacked bag and thereby spend your trip lugging around pounds of unnecessary supplies and paying overweight- and oversized-bag fees.

You don’t have the right stuff

Invest in travel products that will ease your packing for years to come. With the right gear, you can pack less by including lighter, multifunctional travel products in your bag. Some of our favourites include foldable shoes, compression bags, and ultra-lightweight clothes.

Stick with stuff you will definitely use — not stuff that would be good to have, just in case. Picture: iStock

You’re not being honest with yourself

Sometimes we find ourselves stuffing our suitcases full of hope. You pack your running shoes and your travel yoga mat because you’ll definitely keep up with your workout routine while on your trip. This time it’ll be different! Or maybe you throw that slinky, glittery dress you never wear into your bag because you think the adventure of travelling will incite you to sport the kind of attire you normally wouldn’t put on at home.

Think hard about what you’ll use on your trip, in actuality, and take note of which items you’ve used on your former travels. After all, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

You lack a laundry strategy

For trips longer than a week, plan to do laundry on the road. Bring laundry soap and wash your clothes in the hotel sink. Look up the locations of laundromats near your accommodation, or investigate prices for laundry services on your cruise or at your hotel. (Hotel laundry services tend to be a rip-off, so choose the do-it-yourself method for maximum savings.) Another option is to consider arranging an apartment rental as they commonly have laundry facilities.

You don’t colour co-ordinate

The secret to pulling together an interesting and diverse assortment of outfits with only a small number of pieces packed in a tiny little bag is colour co-ordination.

First, opt for mostly neutrals. Next, when you add in colour, keep your choices within the same family, such as blues and blacks, or soft coral and peach tones. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll find that you can pack in such a way that all of your tops co-ordinate with all of your bottoms, yielding exponential outfit options. (Read more about how to colour co-ordinate here).

It’s nice to have everything you’ll need and more, but it’s not nice lugging this junk around on holiday. Picture: iStock

You’re a newbie

You’ve underestimated the importance of packing light because you haven’t yet experienced the hell on earth that is dragging three vending-machine-sized bags onto the Paris Metro.

Don’t be foolish. Take the advice of the umpteen travellers who have gone before you and pack the absolute bare minimum.

You’re addicted to gadgets

Gadgets and gizmos can prove useful on a trip. (We love us a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.) But they can also take up a lot of space and add weight to your bag, especially when each electronic item must be paired with its own proprietary charger.

Universal chargers, such as this rechargeable external battery, are gold — we highly recommend picking one up if you normally travel with an armload of tangled cords and power accessories.

Then there’s the problem of packing the necessary converters and adaptors for the countries you’re visiting.

Our advice? Call your concierge in advance. Hotels commonly keep chargers, adaptors, and converters behind the front desk for complimentary guest use.

This article originally appeared on Smarter Travel.

Ideas on How to Pack for a Trip

(this was recently posted on


So, you have a big trip coming up, and the departure date is getting closer and closer. If you are anything like myself, you more than likely are thinking, rethinking, and over thinking what to bring. Should I get a new backpack? Should I replace my luggage with the kind that is hard on the outside? Which books should I bring for the plane and to read during down times? Do they use batteries where I’m going? Can I bring batteries as carry-on?…


The thoughts that pop into our heads in the short weeks before a big trip are all ones that err on the edge of caution. We doubt that what we already have is not good enough, and that if we leave that one “essential” item behind, that our entire trip is doomed.

To help calm your nerves, we have put together 8 actually essential packing tips for you to remember as you prep for your next big adventure. To get this frequently asked question out-of-the-way early, NO, you do not need to bring your favorite hair dryer. The hotel will most likely provide one for you. Yes, we’re sure. Read on for more tips.

Take Time To List.

The first thing you need to do is make a list of the items you need everywhere you go, regardless of the specifics of your destination. This is a run-through of the basics –shirts, pants, shorts, socks, undergarments, shoes, glasses, jacket…pretty much a run through of all the items you use in the course of a normal stretch of time.

Plan your outfits based on the number of days you will be out, keeping in mind the events you have planned (are you planning on eating a nice dinner, or hitting the nightlife a few nights out of the trip? Then be sure to include those sharper outfits, too).

Also, just like your mother used to remind you –bring more socks and underwear than you think you’ll need. Mother always had an insight into the unseen…

Understand Your Destination.

Once you have the basics of “how much clothes should I bring?”, you can start altering your travel wardrobe to the specifics of your destination. Are you going someplace tropical? Then chances are you are not going to need that parka and pair of snow pants. Swap it out for that swimsuit, as that will get more mileage on this trip than your snow jacket. Going someplace warm but also rainy? Be sure to grab the waterproof windbreaker and rubber shoes if you already have some.

By doing simple research on your destination as to the weather and expected activities available there, you can easily avoid over packing items that you will never pull out of your suitcase. Nothing makes a trip harder than a massive bag full of items you never needed to bring in the first place.

The Gray Area Of “Essentials.”

After you have settled the clothing conundrum once and for all, we move into the gray area of packing –items.

Do we bring books into the trip? Should I bring my computer? My textbooks for that class I’m taking? What about my new art set that I’m thinking about possibly maybe busting out while on the island…?

The answer is simple when it comes the gray-area items: why are you going on vacation? Answering this simple question helps declutter your suitcase from all the stuff that will try to make its way into our bags unnecessarily.

Are you going on vacation to get away from work and thinking about work? Then leave the laptop. No access to emails means the tentacles of work can’t reach you. Going on vacation to reconnect with your spouse or family? Then leave the books. They will cause you to hide from everyone because you are seeking alone time to read. Books and even portable video games just tempt you to avoid achieving your vacation goals, whatever they may be.

Unless your goals for this vacation are “more ME time”, then perhaps the art set can stay home, too. Don’t worry, it’ll be waiting for you for when you return.

Let’s Talk Toiletries.

If you are going to a hotel and not a camp ground, then you are in luck –you don’t really have to bring any toiletries at all! Shampoos, conditioners, body wash and soap…they are all provided for you in your room (don’t believe us? Just peek in the shower really quick when you get there).

This saves you the trouble of having to high-tail it to Target the night before because you just realized that you are running low on Head & Shoulders. Bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and any special (and we mean special as in necessity) items, and let that be pretty much it.

The idea is to get away, not bring your entire medicine cabinet with you. And again, leave the hair dryer at home. Doesn’t matter how much you think you’ll need it, the one provided in your room is more than adequate.

How Many Bags Can I Bring Onboard?

Now that you got your bags all packed, we should find out just how exactly traveling with your luggage and backpack will go with your airline (if you’re flying to your destination, that is).


Every airline varies when it comes to what you can check and what you can bring onboard free of any fees. Southwest, for example, makes it so that two bags can be checked for free with economy tickets, and United has it so that everyone in your traveling party can bring one carry-on with them, but charges per checked bag unless you carry their co-branded travel card.

A quick online check of your airline with the phrase “luggage fee” will offer the answers you need.

Laundry Is Always An Option.

Don’t want to pay that extra bag fee? Then downsize all your items into one bag per person rather than two (that is, a backpack AND a checked bag). You can do that by lessening the amount of the clothes you bring.

One of the best ways to downsize your packed bag is to plan to launder your clothes rather than bring more outfits. Recycling outfits after you get them cleaned and washed is a great way to save space in your bag, but of course, you need to find a place to get your things washed, first.

Many hotels offer some form of a laundry service, or even a washer and dryer in the rooms themselves. Past that, local laundromats are often not too far from hotels.

Hop online, or even just on the phone with your hotel concierge to see what they would recommend as far as getting your clothes cleaned would be.

Keep Your Essentials With You.

Afraid of getting your luggage lost? Luggage being sent to a wrong destination, leaving you without your bag happens more often than you think, so plan and don’t have your essentials be in your checked bag but rather your carry-on instead.


Items like your toothbrush, your tablet (if you brought it), a jacket and change of clothes, even tickets and confirmations are all items you want to keep close to you, always. Don’t check them. Keep them on your person, or at the very least in your checked bag that stays above your head or under your seat.

Downsize Everything Possible.

Again, the name of the game is to keep everything as light as possible. To do this, as we keep mentioning in this article, we downsize. Everything.

If you are a book person, and you don’t want to bring a separate bag just for all the books you want to bring with you to read, then welcome to the digital age! Get an E-Reader like a Kindle, or even just download the Kindle app for your iPad or tablet and download the books onto there. Why carry 47 lbs. of paper-and-binding when you can carry just 10.5 ounces?

We would recommend the same for those who feel they must stay connected to the world they are supposedly leaving behind. Why carry a bulky laptop around when they can downsize and just carry a tablet? On top of that, consider sharing the tablet (as in you and your spouse must share the screen) instead of bringing two. This way you won’t be tempted to waste your vacation by being alone and staring at a blue glow the entire time.

How to Pack for a Cruise When Flying

(This article was recently posted in Travel Plus)

Packing for a cruise is not as easy as it once was. Mostly because of airline restrictions on bags, gone are the days of bringing multiple suitcases coming or going weighing more than 50 pounds, unless of course, you are traveling from a homeport without the need to fly to embark the ship. So, for now, let’s look at packing tips requiring airfare before and after a sailing.


Before considering anything else, it’s most crucial to check with your airline to see what limits apply to you in regards to how many suitcases you can take, at least for free if at all, and what weight restrictions are in place for each. Some airlines are more lenient on first bag fees than others, and loyalty levels will get you the furthest with extra free luggage and even weight limits closer to 75 pounds.

Also, consider buying a small looping bag scale to ensure you’re always within the numbers. There’s nothing worse than discovering you’re over at the airport. If you do happen to have the chance to bring more than one bag, consider packing an empty duffel for any non-fragile souvenirs to bring with you on your return too.


As far as outfits are concerned, you’ll want to consider the dress codes of your specific cruise line next. Fewer expect formal wear than in the past, but some still expect it. If you’d rather not bring suits and cocktail dresses, most brands offer casual dining options on the very few evenings when formal is the designation.


If you are keen to bring the greatest variety of outfits as possible to be well prepared for any event, you can wear the same base formal clothing, for instance, while changing up the accessories such as ties, scarves and jewelry the next time.

For daily casual options, my wife recommends a mix-and-match wardrobe in which all tops work with all bottoms. As far as weight distribution is concerned, also be mindful of packing heavier items such as shoes in a carry-on versus a checked bag.


It’s fairly easy to pack enough clothes for a weeklong cruise in a single suitcase. Once voyages get longer, however, laundry starts to become necessary. When cruises exceed seven days, consider still packing only a week’s worth of clothes and then plan to either self-launder or pay for full-service cleaning. Some cruise lines occasionally offer a special flat rate for stuffing a single laundry bag with clothes, which is a much better value than a la carte pricing.


A helpful thing to bring that does not take up any more room or weight are plastic bags — trash or resealable ones.

For any laundry that is left upon your return home, trash bags are ideal to keep them separate from any remaining clean clothes. Also, resealable bags are great to take anything that might leak such as sunscreen as well as for to bring home any wet items such as swimwear that did not have a chance to dry before flying again.

Additionally, they can be a great way to protect delicate electronics from moisture on shoreside beach outings or in inclement weather.


If ever you have any fragile items, it’s always best to pack them in a carry-on, but if you have something such as a bottle of wine, liquid restrictions require that they are checked. The best-case scenario would be to ship such items home, but if you must have them with you, keep them as far away from the edges and sides of the suitcase as possible and pad them to the center with plenty of shock-absorbing clothes. Just be sure to also put them first in a sealable plastic bag to avoid unintended merlot colored T-shirts upon arrival.