When I first started travelling, I dreaded packing. Choosing what to bring along and what had to be left behind was stressful, and yet my bag was still always filled to burst. Carrying around a heavy pack is a nuisance and digging around in it for that one ticket you need is even worse. So, from a chronic overpacker who has (finally) learned her lessons the hard way, here are some tips to help you pack for your next trip.
Less is More
I'm sure you've heard this one before, but it's importance can't be overstated. Keeping your pack as light as possible will make your travels so much more enjoyable and carefree. You never need as many clothes or shoes as you think you will, so pack less. If worse comes to worse and you really end up needing another sweater or pair of pants, you can always buy one on the road.
And don't try to justify your overpacking by thinking you won't mind carrying the extra weight of those big jackets or rain shoes -- believe me, 10 minutes into your first walk from the train station to the hostel, you will be cursing yourself. You're a traveler now, it's okay to wear the same clothes for days in a row.
What to Leave Behind
I never pack shampoo or toothpaste or any other toiletries like that anymore. Unless you're going trekking into the wilderness or traveling to a remote area of a developing nation, you'll be able to find a store at your destination to stock up on these essentials. That way you don't have to worry about checking liquids onto a plane or taking up more room in your pack with oversized bottles.
Focus on the bare minimum that you will need on your travels and prioritize the items. Clothes and toiletries are really the only essentials. Packing for worse case scenario situations is smart if you're willing to carry the extra weight, but again, if it's something you probably won't need and you could just buy it at your destination, then just leave it at home.
What to Bring
I know it's tedious and you'd rather just throw some random tops and bottoms into your bag and be on your way, but it really does help to plan out some outfits. Just by laying your clothes out a bed, you can see when you're trying to take way too much along. Remember, you're going to meet new people and experience new things, your clothes really aren't that important.
If there are extra things you want to bring along, like laptops, tablets, cameras, or books, make sure you're being realistic about what you'll actually use. You are not going to read 3 books on your 3 month long trip. You don't need an ipad and a laptop. Be selective about extras you take along, because again, you're going to experience a new place, not new apps on your tablet or new TV episodes to stream.
In short, keep it simple, light, and stress free!
(Brought to you by Ally Thibault)