My strategies for packing light

1 May 2017

I’m in the middle of a fun ten-day trip. It’s bookended by a professional conference at the beginning, a wedding at the end and five days in New York City in the middle. I flew to Pittsburgh, took a train to New York, and will drive from there to Central Pennsylvania (for the wedding) and back before flying home from New York to St. Louis.

That’s a lot of back and forth and I didn’t want to be weighed down by luggage, particularly in the train portion of the trip (you could not check bags on the train I was on).I wanted to pack everything into a carry-on sized suitcase.

Packing light can be a bit of challenge when you need to dress nicely for a decent chunk of the trip. I’m proud say I’ve done it without a whole lot of effort. These are my strategies:

  1. I planned everything I would wear each day. No extra just-in-case clothing.
  2. I decided to wear the same thing every day while I’m in New York (more on that below).
  3. I used packing cubes to pack more into the confines of the suitcase.
  4. I can do a load of laundry midway through the trip.

My friend, Dacy Gillespie of mindful closet shared with me that she’d taken a long weekend trip without taking a single change of clothes. I was really inspired by that—I love the idea of not having to think about what I will wear! So I selected a pair of leggings (actually, I packed two pairs: one shorter and one longer) and a lightweight tunic from Athleta as my NYC uniform. I have a poncho if it’s cold and a scarf if I want to snazz it up. I have booties if I want to dress it up and sneakers if I want to be completely comfy and dress it down. I also have flats.

I so enjoy not having to think about what I’m going to wear! It’s absolutely liberating. It’s helpful that I feel great in this outfit and that it’s really comfortable.

As for the dressier clothes, I have two choices of clothes to wear at the wedding, both of which I wore at the conference.

For me, it’s all about making the decisions while I’m packing, rather than while I’m dressing. I know that overpacking just leads to stress for me. I love being really mobile with my suitcase. And I love not having to think much about what I’m going to wear because the choices are limited. (This is one reason I like Project 333 so much.)

I wonder if I’ll ever use a large suitcase again!

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I love this! My husband and daughter and I always travel with one carry-on suitcase each. For a two-week trip or longer, we launder clothes halfway through. It’s great to travel light, and we never have to worry about lost luggage!

Sharon Lowenheim 05/15/2017 10:02 PM

Thanks, Sharon! I’m impressed that your whole family packs light. I’ll confess that I actually check my bag, even though it’s a carry-on size. I like bringing my purse and laptop on the plane.

Janine Adams 05/16/2017 06:12 AM

I do carry-on only these days no matter how long the trip – and I also carry on my laptop and purse thanks to this rolling suitcase with a zip off backpack. I put the laptop and my purse in the backpack when I board. Upon arrival, I remove my purse and zip the backpack back on the suitcase. This suitcase even has shoulder straps tucked into a compartment on the back so you can carry the entire thing if necessary. I’ve used this feature when it was hard to roll it such as up/down many flights of stairs or on cobblestone streets/walks.

Donna Smallin Kuper 05/27/2017 02:58 PM

Donna, that is genius! Thanks so much for sharing. I am going to give it serious consideration!!

Janine Adams 05/27/2017 03:45 PM

I just learnt that eBags is now shipping to Germany. I definetly have to get those. I am travelling a lot and I learnt that when I say goodbye to “just in case”, I am good with a carry on for most of my travels. But my problem is that my interior starts to get messy after a day. Underwear? Socks?.. well, they are in there..somewhere :)

Barbara 12/02/2017 10:50 AM

Barbara, the packing cubes should solve that problem for you! I put socks in one, undies in one and pajamas in another and it really helps. I also usually separate tops and bottoms.

Janine Adams 12/02/2017 10:53 AM

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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