The Trip That Changed the Way I Pack

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There comes a very important moment in every traveler’s life where they realize that they packed WAY TOO MUCH STUFF. This is an important moment because one can either learn from it, or forget the lesson and be inconvenienced again later. I had such a moment while backpacking (the camping kind) and traveling in Norway.

For starters, it was a hard trip to pack for. Not only was I traveling, I was also backpacking, I had brought my dog along, AND I was planning to move across the country (read: fly to a new place) when I got home. However, I still tried to pack for every inevitability. This resulted in an 85 liter backpack which probably weighed something like 70 lbs. Do NOT do this. I could barely lift it on to my back.

Well, I got to Norway and immediately wanted nothing more than to throw all my worldly possesions into the nearest river. I spent some time near a river and thought about it. Later that day, I ended up throwing away several of the things I brought along, merely to save weight. Yes, that’s how desperate I was – I literally threw items I spent money on into the trash, just to get rid of them!

I resolved to never ever do this again. I didn’t care if I was camping while traveling or what – I would never bring anything larger than a 45 liter pack (the max size you can travel carry on with anyway) with me. And guess what – on my last trip I managed to only bring 1 28 liter bag AND camp.

And you can too!

At least my dog didn’t overpack

 

There are three major things that will lead to overpacking:

1) Not really knowing what you’re getting into. Do your research on your destination’s climate and weather. Also think about what kind of activities you might end up doing: are you planning to mostly stroll around and hike, with the occasional fancy dinner thrown in? Then you probably don’t need multiple dinner outfits – you can reuse just one!

2) Packing one thing for each activity. For example, let’s say you have multiple fancy dinners to attend on your trip, plus outfits for general day use. Assuming you aren’t attending them all with the same people, you can pssssst – reuse outfits. You can even spice up every day outfits to be nice enough for dinner with a few well-chosen accessories like earrings and scarves. That way you get two outfits to wear on more than two occasions. Packing genius! And you can definitely reuse outfits – just hand wash in between.

3) The what-ifs. We all have them. What if….the apocalypse happens?! What if I somehow spill wine on everything? What if I get this super specific and rare disease?! Etc., etc. First of all, most of these will never happen, so don’t bring things for every possible situation. However, what will likely happen are things you didn’t plan for. That’s the beauty of travel! And the best part is that you are smart and will be fine with what you do bring. If not, stores exist in other countries too. 😉

 

The absolute best thing you can pack that takes up no space is your wits.

 

Don’t prepare with things – prepare with wits. Think about what things can be used in multiple situations. Take a first aid class. Go camping or backpacking – it will teach you invaluable skills on how to solve problems with limited resources. And most of all, if you are asking, should I bring this? The answer, 99% of the time, is that you don’t need it. Try packing less and seeing what happens – set yourself a limit on pack space – choose a 30 liter bag and only bring what fits. You’ll figure it out!

 

Do you have any overpacking stories?

There comes a crossroads in every traveler's life where they realize that they overpacked. Here's the story of mine and what I learned from it.

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