Overpacking – and how to get it under control.

In Travel Guides
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I am the absolute Queen of overpacking, whether it’s an overnight stay at a friends, a week long holiday with the girls, or moving to the other side of the world with my boyfriend, you can absolutely guarantee that I will have half my life with me and a million things, ‘just in case’. This unfortunately, is the life of someone who works in planning and organisation and is used to being prepared for every possible scenario, resulting in my backpack or suitcase weighing as much as a baby elephant!

When I went backpacking through Europe my backpack was around 20kg and 3ft tall, I’m only 5ft, oh and I was only away for 4 weeks… I have a serious packing problem. This time around when we moved to Australia I promised myself never again will I pack too much and regret it. 30kg of checked baggage and 10kg of hand luggage later, plus living in Melbourne for four months surrounded by amazing shops and a giant H&M and you guessed it, I had WAY too much stuff, again! But now I’m getting this terrible habit under control and here’s how you can too…

Clothing

First you need to think carefully about where you’re travelling too, what’s the average weather for the time you’ll be there, what kind of trip it is; are you going to be exploring cities all day, adventuring through the jungle or relaxing on the beach? Next gather eeeeeverything you’re considering taking with you in a big pile, if you’re feeling super organised maybe put things together in outfits or shorts, t shirts, vests etc. Alright, now you’ve got half your wardrobe with you, half it, then half it again and that’s what you should be taking with you! That t-shirt that you’ve never worn but looks awesome, leave it, better still, donate it to the charity pile so there’s less clutter when you come home. Those shorts you haven’t worn since 2010, yes they’re comfy, yes they remind you of good times, but if you haven’t worn them in the last year, chances are you won’t this year either, leave them! Finally, all the things ‘just in case’, just don’t do it. If there is a real just in case moment you’ll more than likely be able to buy the necessary items whilst you’re away, it’s better to spend money doing this than on baggage fees for flights just to find you never needed half that stuff anyway, trust me.

Toiletries 

Girls in particular I am looking at you, we are terrible at packing the bare essentials when it comes to beauty routines. Now I’m not saying all these things should go out the window just because you’re travelling, but maybe it’s not all as necessary as you might think. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant are all fairly obviously going to be used daily, so definitely pack those. But your flavoured mouthwash, styling moose, different sized combs, monthly hair mask and body scrub are probably small luxuries you can go without. I packed all kinds of toiletries that I’d never used back home but was just holding onto for some unknown reason and would you believe it, I still haven’t used them in Australia and I’ve been here nearly 11 months! Toiletries are probably the simplest thing to stock up on should you decide you’re missing something important, so don’t sweat it too much. Why not try ditching everything but the hygiene basics for the first few days of your travels and see if it turns out you can actually live without a lot of the stuff you normally use, you might be surprised.

Make-Up

This one’s mainly for the girls… A small and simple make up routine can be so empowering, especially if it saves you valuable room in your backpack in the process. If you’re from a cold climate like myself then often the sun of the places you visit can do wonders for your skin. I often suffer from a few spots on my face but since spending my time in the Australian sunshine my skin has cleared up, and blemishes left behind are fading. I’ve never minded too much about what people thought of me but I’d feel a lot more confident leaving the house with a bit of makeup on, now though I rarely wear any and can’t remember the last time I did. So why not try the barefaced look and see if it works wonders for your skin? You may find yourself not bothering in the first place after you spend the first few days sweating it all off anyway, plus there are more exciting things to be out doing than sitting in the mirror putting your face on, so maybe don’t pack every shade of lipstick and eyeshadow you own just yet!

Jewellery

Wearing tons of jewellery in the heat is not comfortable, you end up with green marks on your fingers from where cheap silver meets warm hands and a whole lot of extra weight in your luggage. You don’t need jewellery to match every outfit so maybe just take a couple of pieces you can put with anything just so you can feel a bit dressed up now and then. Wearing a lot of jewellery can also, unfortunately attract unwanted attention in the form of sticky fingers. I’ve seen it happen to so many people, large shared dorm rooms, plus your beautiful pandora bracelet, plus one dishonest person and you end up heartbroken and at the police station in the hope that somehow this person will be caught. You may also be incredibly stupid and check out of a hotel, leaving all your most precious jewellery behind and by the time you realise, the housekeeping team may already have made off with it…yes it’s happened to me and it was absolutely heart breaking, do not end up in the same position! Leave your valuables at home, you can get beautiful hand made jewellery overseas especially at local markets, so why not start a new collection instead of risking your favourite pair of earrings or that bracelet your grandma got you.

Stuff

Pictures of you and all your besties on various nights out, three different kinds of bag, three pairs of trainers for this and a pair of shoes for that, your laptop and iphone and ipad and camera, souvenir keyrings… whilst having all these things at your fingertips at home might seem the norm, ditching all the excess for your trip can feel pretty good. Just take a pair of shoes for walking and a pair for dressing up a bit, take just your iphone which does everything that your laptop, ipad and camera do, only it weighs about 1 kilo and it super compact, rather than every device you own. Take one multipurpose bag to suit your every need and a small purse for if you plan on going out, rather than having a bag for every outfit. And as for memories of home, the internet is an incredible thing filled with hundred of pictures of you and your friends, skype so that you can talk to your family and whatsapp so you can receive pictures of your dog/cat/hamster every day. I know from experience that all this stuff we are used to having with us all the time is often not necessary, it can be so liberating to just have the essentials with you, it’s also incredibly good for your back to not carry around your entire life around on it for your whole trip!

Plus, the less stuff you go away with, the more room you have to bring back awesome local crafts, clothing, jewellery and gifts, and there’s no better reason than that!

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