“This is fine”, I attempted to convince myself as I wheeled my two suitcases and one carry-on bag to the top of the stairs. I had only gotten my bags out of the Parisian studio and was already breathing harder than someone who just ran a mile. Now I just had to get them down the flight of stairs, which would bring me to the fifth floor where I would then have to fit my bags and myself into an elevator, a fourth of the size of those back home, and wheel them through the courtyard.
I had anticipated taking the RER to Charles de Gaulle, where I would catch a flight to Dublin. I did not end up taking the RER.
Big props for reasonably priced cabs in Paris.
I don’t know what was worse, the “Oh, those are ALL yours?” I got from two experienced travelers the day I landed at Charles de Gaulle from New York, both of whom were able to fit five weeks of necessities into one bag; or the hassle I would soon experience trekking my bags around Ireland.
I know I’m not the first to overpack on an abroad trip and I’m sure I won’t be the last. But if I could go back in time, I would have definitely given myself a much needed kick in the shin and some helpful advice.
- Remember that girl on Instagram who seems done-up in the cutest outfits every single day of her trip? Yeah, that won’t be you. Leave the over-the-top outfits at home, and pack one simple, slightly-more-formal dress for when you really need it.
- You will not wear all of that. I definitely over thought how much clothing I would need for a three week trip. I packed approximately 3/4’s of my closet and wore maybe a third of that. This shouldn’t have surprised me, considering I only actually wear about a third of the clothing I own. There is a tip I’ve gotten from some experienced traveler friends which says to lay out everything you want to bring.. and then bring half of it. This is easily up there in the best advice I have ever received on any topic. And remember, you can re-wear things.
- Refer back to number one. You will not be the girl on Instagram who looked as if she popped into the salon every morning of her trip. When it comes to hair tools, I’m the absolute worst, and have had to adjust to leaving my loyal straightening iron at home. Of my entire trip, I believe I actually did my hair once. My main focus each morning ended up wanting to get up and out as early as possible to see as much as I could. Embrace you natural hair, even if you have a lion’s mane like myself.
- If you have to sit on your bag to close it, you probably packed too much. While I’m not a huge souvenier buyer, I should have assumed I’d be bringing some things home with me. The two hours it took to empty out and then reorganize everything to fit in already stuffed bags before my flight home was not worth the hassle and time wasted.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to pack. I am guilty of this almost every time I travel, and it is definitely a huge factor in my overpacking. Packing + Stress = More stress cause you friggen’ overpacked.
- Remember that layers are a thing. When I was researching the weather for my trip, I was seeing 90 degree weather in some locations, then 50 degree weather in others. I chose to “solve” this problem by packing multiple long sleeve shirts, and multiple short sleeve shirts, AND multiple thick long sleeve shirts and pretty much multiple everything. In reality, I could’ve packed a few select shirts, and then a sweater or two. It would have saved me a load of space.
- You don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe for your trip. This is something I try to drill in the heads of some of my friends when they’re preparing for their next getaway. Windbreakers, hiking boots..if you legitimately need something new for your excursions, buy it. I get that some things are essential. But I guarantee you that your year old jeans are probably just as awesome as a brand new pair, and are probably way more comfortable anyway.
The moral of these slightly repetitive pieces of advice are:
Nobody cares what you’re wearing. You are there for experiences, not too look cute in an Instagram photo. As long as you’re weather appropriate and culturally appropriate depending on where you’re going, you will look great as long as you’re having the time of your life.
When it comes to what you eliminate from your suitcase during your next trip, just ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need it?
- Is it appropriate for the location I am traveling? (weather-wise, culturally, necessary for my excursions?)
- Did I already pack something similar to this?
- Have I worn it at home within the last two months?
- Does it pack easy? Certain materials come out of a bag looking wrinkled and awful. And since a portable steamer is most likely not on your “I need it” list, you should probably leave it.
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