Why do we overpack?

6 August 2015

Why do we overpack?

I just returned from an eight-day trip to visit family in Walla Walla, Washington and attend my high school reunion. I had a great time, but I’m glad to be home.

As usual, I packed too many clothes. (That’s a photo of my suitcase on this trip as I was facing down repacking it.) I was getting frustrated, so I started to ponder why I (and I assume others) do this. It’s an irritating practice because it actually makes life on the road harder. As I’ve written about it before, there are benefits to packing light:

  • It makes it easier to choose what to wear when I’m on the road, particularly if I plan my outfits by ahead of time.
  • It makes it easier to find things in my suitcase, if I’m not able to unpack at my destination.
  • It makes it easier to repack to return home if I have unpacked.
  • It saves me room to bring home gifts (or, in the case of trips to Walla Walla, wine).
  • It makes my suitcase lighter and therefore easier to manage during travel.
  • It makes it easy to carry on bags, rather than checking them.
  • It makes unpacking easier.

So why don’t I pack less? I think it’s because I’m afraid I won’t have the clothes I want when I’m getting dressed at my destination, so I pack extra. And it’s easier to delay decisions about what to wear (does that sound familiar?). So packing gets easier but living on the trip gets harder.

I travel again in a few weeks and I vow here and now to pack as light as possible. I know it will make my life easier and that’s the name of the game for me.

How about you? Do you consider yourself an overpacker? And, if so, why do you do it?

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I started using the Stylebook App to plan outfits and then put them on specific days of the week and there is also a packing portion-it helped me pack a carry-on suitcase for a 10 day trip to Paris and Barcelona and has worked well for my trips since then!

Sarah Ressler 08/06/2015 07:58 PM

Some interesting ideas here. I definitely over pack for a lot of trips – and if I overthink about one particular part of packing, I tend to forget something else important about the trip! Thanks for these tips on getting out of this habit.

Jordan 08/10/2015 10:05 AM

Ooh, Sarah, I’ll check out the Stylebook app. Thank you!!

Janine Adams 08/12/2015 09:30 AM

My husband and I always bring one carry-on each, no matter how long the trip and how far away we are going. It requires advanced planning, and if the trip is long enough we have to send out laundry after a week. But we never have to check our luggage and we always wear everything we brought.

Sharon Lowenheim 08/29/2015 09:52 PM

Good for you, Sharon! I think that’s the ideal. I’m impressed.

Janine Adams 08/30/2015 08:01 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.

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