There are a lot of reasons to keep packing as compact as possible. You can save money by not having to check a bag at the airport. If you're road tripping with friends, cargo space is always prime real estate that can go further with fewer pieces of luggage. You can leave room for souvenirs you may purchase while you're traveling. And your luggage will be lighter when you're hauling it around the airport, hotel, and city. The benefits to smart packing are endless. So here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Check the weather forecast. This is a no-brainer. There's no reason to pack a coat if the forecast is 70 degrees. You won't want to pack flip flops if the forecast is rain for the entire week. The forecast isn't always right, but it's probably more accurate than your best guess.
2. Use freebies. Find out if your hotel has amenities like a hairdryer or complimentary soap and shampoo. A simple phone call can save a lot of space.
3. Plan ahead. If you're like me, you'd rather go with the flow than decide your every move ahead of time. Vacation is more relaxing if I can keep my options open. But if you're limited on space, a little structure can help you avoid big headaches. An itinerary will help you know what kind of outfits you need to pack. At the bare minimum, decide what types of activities are on the table. Theaters and museums require much different wardrobes than hikes and amusement parks.
4. Do laundry. If your trip is extended, consider a hotel that has laundry facilities. You can save a lot of space by packing 4 days of clothes and washing them half way through an 8 day trip.
5. Pack travel sized items. There's no reason to bring a full sized shampoo if you're only traveling for 5 days. If your favorite products aren't sold in travel sizes, purchase inexpensive, reusable travel bottles. Besides, if you're flying, full sized liquids won't make it through security anyway. (Bonus tip: Don't forget to pack these items in a plastic bag to avoid unexpected messes on your favorite outfit.)
6. Bring flexible outfits. Pack something you can dress up for evening or dress down for daytime. Or pack a pair of pants that goes with 2 or more shirts.
7. Be realistic. You may have that book (or 2... or 5) that's been nagging you from the bookshelf for months. But unless you know for sure you're going to have a large amount of down time, chances are, you aren't going to read it on vacation.
8. Don't pack "just in case" items. This might be hard for a boy scout or serious planner. But the likelihood that you really need to prepare for every plausible situation is not high. Not only that, but most travel "emergencies" can be resolved with a simple purchase while you're on vacation. I guarantee that if you force yourself to leave something out, you won't even realize it once you're on vacation and having fun. Plus, some hotels can help with certain emergencies. A sewing kit is often a phone call away.
9. Share items with your travel buddies. Someone can pack a hair straightener while someone else can bring a phone charger. If you're similar sizes, you can even share clothing and shoes to have more varied outfits.
10. Give yourself time. Personally, I hate packing. I usually put it off until the last possible minute. This always creates room for error. You end up packing too much of the wrong thing and forget some very important things (i.e. a toothbrush or underwear). So start early and give yourself time to double check what you've packed.
Do you have any other techniques that you have used to avoid overpacking in the past? Share them in the comments section!