Hi Frugalistas! Everyone I know wants to pack less and pack better for their next trip – but so many people think a small, carry on bag as your only luggage is an impossible ask. Here are 5 of the most common packing mistakes I see in other people’s bags, and how I avoid them:
1. Too Many Pairs of Shoes
I recently read a post by a young woman, very proud that she’d managed to “only” take six pairs of shoes on an overseas trip. In her post she listed the shoes she’d packed into a combination of her suitcase and her carry on luggage: running shoes, converse sneakers, stilettos, flipflops, ballet flats, and sandals. Her trip was not an around the world, do it all extravaganza – it was a simple trip to another continent on a guided tour. Where was she going to put her souvenirs, and how was she going to manage her luggage on her own?
Shoes are the single most space consuming item in your luggage. It therefore makes sense to try and limit the space they take up in your bag, no? I lerve my shoes, and own many, many pairs, but when I travel, I restrict myself to 2 pairs – one pair on and one in the bag. If you make the right choices, it is possible to manage with just 2 pairs. (If you are staying in accommodation with shared bathrooms, a pair of flipflops is definitely OK though).
2. Packing half the bathroom
Hairdryers, curling tongs, hair straighteners, and that’s before you even start on your toiletries! Sound like you? Forget about it. Even cheap hotels have hair dryers these days, and do you really need the straighten and/or curl your hair every day while you are away? Your hair is going to look different regardless – different water, different humidity, and different climate – so why not embrace that and do your hair differently?
With the current restrictions on the packing of liquids it is really easy now to pack light with your toiletries. It is easy to buy small bottles etc to decant your goodies into, and also easy to buy many popular brands in traveling sizes. Even if you are planning on checking in your luggage, stick to the international carry on 100ml limits, and see just how much extra room you can give yourself (also how you can limit the damage, if you get a leak or breakage!)
3. “Just in Case” Items
Unless it is just in case you get sick/get into danger/meet someone you want to get closer to (ie completely necessary in case of emergency), you do not need to pack things just in case….just don’t do it. You can read more about avoiding “just in case” in this post.
4. Separate outfits that can only be worn in very limited circumstances
Unless you are going on a cruise where you are expected to dress for dinner every night, or going on a 3 Michelin star eating tour of Europe where you will need to dress, leave the fancy clothes behind, and stick to sensible separates in plain colours and fabrics that can be dressed up or down with accessories and jewellery. Think Little Black Dress and you can’t go wrong……
5. Only taking skimpy gear to warmer climates
Unless you are planning on just lying on the beach, and never want to go into a temple, church or want to visit someone’s home you do need something that will cover your shoulders and knees. I would hate to travel to the other side of the world and not be allowed to visit what I had come to see just because I didn’t have suitable clothing……..Similarly, just because you don’t get sunburn at home, don’t assume that you will be lucky in the tropics. Regardless of where you are going, make sure you can make at least one outfit where your knees and shoulders will be covered (this applies equally to men).
So, pack light, pack right and have a great trip!