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In my quest for efficiency I need to learn how to pack light.  For as long as I have been traveling (since the summer going into 8th grade, I was either 12 or 13 years old), I have been trying to jam things in my suitcase that I will never need on said trip.  Just recently, going down to Patrick’s parent’s house for a weekend trip, I packed like 4 pairs of shoes, a couple pairs of jeans (it was south Florida we were heading too…probably wasn’t going to wear jeans), several shirts of varying styles (long sleeve, t-shirt, tank top, undershirt, sweater, etc), a few bras, and more underwear than there were days we were staying.  This was all in addition to my ginormous makeup bag as well.

What the hell.  Something is wrong with me.

With the few trips that are planned in the coming months, I am on a mission to learn how to pack more efficiently.  By this I don’t mean how can I fold my mound of clothes smaller or use vacuum sealed bags to fit MORE junk in my bag…NO.  I am trying to pack LESS stuff all together.  Upcoming trips include a long weekend on the Cape next weekend, weekend trip to South Florida for my bachelorette party in June, and a 2 week long trip divided between Cape Cod and Las Vegas (wedding and honeymoon).  Lucky for me, all flying trips were booked on Southwest.  They have 2 free checked bags and 2 free carry-on bags.  I have always abused this privilege and have jammed as much stuff into two large wheeler bags, weighing barely just under the 50lb limit.  Toting around over 100lbs of stuff for a week long trip to Cape Cod or ANYWHERE for that matter is just INSANE!  What the hell did I absolutely need that much that I required 100lbs of my personal belongings!?

You know, I really thought that having my family photo album on my cruise was such a good idea…said no one. EVER.

I think I’ll pack these hand weights because I have a really good feeling about working out on this vacation…said no one. EVER.

You get my point.  I’ve made so poor choices about packing before.  You will be happy to know that I have never packed a family photo album.  I don’t really want to comment about the workout equipment.  I did not workout, but I felt better knowing that I could have!  I regret nothing.

This brings me to the point of this post.  I will attempt to outline the steps I will be taking to pack lighter, and with some common sense, for my upcoming trips.

1. Don’t pack liquid toiletries if your destination has a nearby store or quick-mart (or a family member’s bathroom).  Almost 99% of the time you can hit up a Target or Walgreens for travel sized shampoo and toothpaste.  Heck, even your hotel will have that stuff (granted it’s not the same brand you use but at least your bags are lighter).

I would like to only bring a carry-on during my trip to Cape Cod next weekend and I can’t have more than 3oz of liquid so TIP 1 is an important one.

2. Check the weather forecast for your destination beforehand.  Yes, these things change, but if you are visiting a location that doesn’t have frivolous and fickle weather patterns – see San Francisco) then you may be able to gauge your attire more appropriately.  For example, pack 1 pair of pants and 1 sweater or sweatshirt that you can use multiple times if the weather seems to be unseasonably cool.  If you have bulkier clothing items that can’t be left behind (a winter parka for visiting the Cape in the dead of winter), then wear it or sling it over your arm.  Don’t pack it.  It will take up too much space in your luggage.  I have never had trouble going through security when one of my items was an external piece of clothing…they don’t count that toward your carry-on limit.

3. Down-size your technology.  If you usually bring a laptop but have a tablet now, bring the tablet.  If you absolutely can’t get any work done without a tactile keyboard, then consider a bluetooth roll-up keyboard that can sync with the tablet (or a case with attached keyboard).  Before the I got my iPad, I would bring my smartphone, my laptop, and my Kindle.  That’s A LOT!  Now, I just bring my iPad and my phone.  I will be adding my DSLR camera to the mix but hey, whatever.

4. Check the amenities your hotel offers because sometimes they have laundry rooms on certain floors.  So, instead of packing a separate outfit for each day your away, you can do laundry for only a few bucks.  If you are visiting family…then commandeering the laundry room is already a given.

5. Notice your routine when you are at home.  Maybe the week leading up to your trip, take notice of the makeup you most often use, the lotion you can’t live without, the go-to shoe that you wear everyday.  Chances are, when you go on vacation, you won’t stray too far from what you do everyday.  Only take those things.  Now is not the time to pack those eyelash extensions because you know that one night you’ll be hitting the downtown hotspots…no.  Just stick to the usual stuff you always use.  If you need a variety of footwear (i.e. sandals, sneakers, dress-up shoes), pack one of each or get footwear that can do double duty.  Flats can be comfortable enough to walk around in during the day but paired with nice slacks or a cute skirt, they will double as your dressier footwear as well.

6. Don’t over think things.  There is no way you can possibly pack for every “what if” situation.  If something goes awry and you find yourself in dire straits, you can always purchase those need-to-have-stuffs wherever you are.

7. Make an itinerary or plan of the things you want to do while you are traveling.  If you are going on vacation, chances are you will want to partake in the touristy things or go on an excursion.  If you know that you want to hike the grand canyon while on your honeymoon in Las Vegas, then you know to pack some sneakers and other appropriate clothing.

Since I can’t think of any other tips that might help packing lighter, a) because I myself DON’T PACK LIGHT, and b) don’t travel nearly as often as others and don’t have travel woe and/or mishap experience, I will end my list on number seven.  Magic number seven.

I hope this can be of help to you and I most certainly hope it helps drive the point home with ME.  I will be trying very hard to take my own self-advice when it comes to my upcoming trips.