Over-Packing… Smartly

I have forever been an over-packer.

I used to just bring whatever I wanted with no rhyme or reason, and very little planning ahead. I wouldn’t bring outfits, or I’d bring 1 pair of pants that matched only 1 shirt, instead of trying to match multiple things.  So I’d be stuck with a ton of stuff, but I’d spend the entire vacation complaining that I had absolutely nothing cute to wear.

I was also the type who’d bring something “just in case”. I’d be all, “hmm… I’m going to Florida, but I might need a sweater in case it’s cold… and I should bring a second one in case I spill something on the first one, and I should probably throw in a jean jacket, ’cause it will go with everything, and a nicer jacket in case we go somewhere nicer and I need a coat.” And don’t even get me started on how many pairs of shoes I’d pack!

I needed to change how I packed.

Not only did I need to rethink how I packed, but I also had to re-evaluate what I brought with me. With luggage weight restrictions, the fact that I often wore about 40% of what I packed, and the overwhelming need to maintain my sanity when packing and unpacking, it became imperative that I stopped bringing so much stuff. Especially unnecessary stuff.  So I set out, for this trip (my first flight in over a year), to pack different.

Enter the moodboard.

I decided it would be best to have an idea of what I wanted to bring before I started packing. In the past, I just stood in front of my closet and pulled stuff with no real rhyme or reason.  So I started off going through my Fashion Inspiration and Fashion Inspiration from Polyvore boards.  Then I looked at my Dup-A-Look board and my Dup-A-Look Challenge board, because even though I’m not planning to duplicate any looks on the trip, there’s some good stuff there too.

I pinned most of what inspired me to a private board. I made it a private board because I figured everyone who follows me on Pinterest didn’t need to see duplicates, because I repinned everything instead of moving each thing.  And really, it’s like a packing list… no one needs to see that, haha.  I did post a few pieces of what was inspiring me on my last Wordless Wednesday post though, but also, I printed it out so I could easily reference while I was getting my stuff together.

Florida Moodboard Printout

Now, as much as I wanted to go absolutely crazy with my moodboard, I kept it (mostly) realistic. I have a little over 30 pins on my board, which is far less than pretty much any of my other style related boards.  Some of the pins are complete outfits I’m inspired by, whereas others are general ideas, and still others are partial outfits or specific styling ideas (like a scarf hair wrap).  I kept my board smaller so that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself and then be stuck bringing way too much again.

I choo- choo- choose you.

After printing my moodboard, I laid it all out and then started pulling stuff from my closet. Some of the things I chose for my moodboard, I did with specific items of clothing in mind.  Those pieces, I pulled first and set aside.  Then I pulled items that worked to evoke the same kind of look or feeling as the things I pinned.  Once everything was separated from my actual closet, I started going through it and seeing what I really wanted to bring.

Some of it was easy to say no to. Other pieces I had to try on and see how they worked.  As I tried on outfits inspired by my moodboard, I made mental note of what worked, what didn’t, and what items I knew could remix. I neatly folded and set aside items I wanted to bring, and things I didn’t want I put on a hangar and hung back up tossed into a pile to be dealt with later.

A quick note on remixing.

Some bloggers can pack for a week in a carry on. I can’t.  Remixing is tricky for me. I mentioned before that I sweat a lot, and because of that, I usually can’t re-wear tops or dresses.  So that means that I really do have to bring at least one top per day, two or more if I’m doing anything that may require changing (like going from walking around the flea market in the afternoon to a nice dinner in the evening).  And without knowing the full vacation schedule, there was definitely some “just in case” stuff that I had to pack.

I basically brought 3 times as many tops as I “had” to, because I can’t re-wear tops. It’s a big of a pain, but something I’ve just kind of learned to deal with.  Plus, this way I’m also guaranteed to have something to sleep in–I almost always forget to pack PJs.

Back to packing.

Once I had a basic idea of what worked and what didn’t, I started weeding out what I didn’t need. I looked at things and pulled duplicates or similar items, and took second looks at what bottoms I brought and whether or not what I brought matched.  At this point, it became pretty clear that I would still be over-packing, but that I’d be doing it differently than how I had in the past.

My original plan had been to plan specific outfits, lay them out, take snaps with my phone, and write down each outfit’s makings. If I hadn’t been sick over the weekend, I probably would have done that.  I still plan on making a list partially because, as I sit and think about it, I can pull a couple things out and I forgot to pack PJ pants, so I need to tear apart my suitcase anyway, but also because I’d like to make sure I know exactly what I’m bringing in the event of a lost bag or TSA sniffing my undies searching my bag.  I also plan on bringing my printouts, because why not?

Am I over-packed?

Yes.  I know I am. But this time around, I at least know what I’m bringing, and did everything possible to make sure that what I bought worked together, would layer well, and would otherwise be wearable.  I didn’t just throw a whole bunch of stuff in a suitcase with no thought behind it other than “I like this, and this, and that, and this is my favorite” only to find none of it works together.  I also went through and made sure I wasn’t bringing all of the same thing.

So while I’m over-packed, everything I’m bringing, I’ll wear (or I’ll have just a few extras). I won’t be sitting in a pile of discarded clothes complaining that I don’t have anything to wear, and I certainly won’t be stuck buying new pieces while on vacation to suit whatever I’ll be doing.

How about you?

Are you an over-packer, or can you travel for a week with the clothes on your back? Let me know in the comments!

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2 comments for “Over-Packing… Smartly

  1. Diana Streng
    December 19, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    I used to be a uber-over packer! I also have to wear a fresh top each day. However, now I bring a small plastic bag of washing detergent with me. It’s easy enough to let a top soak in the sink and hang up, for wear in the following days. Most places/hotels you go now have an iron. Also, I requested some Ebags (small packing bags) on amazon, for Christmas. Reviews say they work well to conserve space in luggage; I hope so!

    (http://www.amazon.com/eBags-Small-Packing-Cubes-Eggplant/dp/B005V0WAEI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355930605&sr=8-2&keywords=eBags+small+packing+cubes)

    • December 21, 2012 at 1:44 AM

      Ooh those ebags are neat! I’ve seen rollable space bags too but didn’t have time to get any for this trip.

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