Yes, I endorse overpacking and have embraced my own inner overpacker, but that doesn’t mean that overpacking should be a free-for-all.
Here are five rules I live by whenever I travel.
1. Pack only as much as you can carry–by yourself–comfortably.
Overpacking is one thing. Inflicting your affliction on someone else is quite another. So, rule #1 means that you can pack as much as you want, as long as you can carry it all everywhere you need to go by yourself. You should be able to get from your house, to the car/bus/train, to and around the airport, and on the plane without needing someone else to carry or lift anything for you.
2. If you plan to carry-on, follow the carry-on size limit rules.
Boarding airplanes is tough enough without the added frustration of someone trying to cram a bag in the overhead bin that will absolutely. never. ever. fit. Do yourself and your fellow passengers a favor and measure, measure, measure. Check the bag dimensions before you pack it (measure from floor to the tallest point of the bag, i.e. the top handle), and measure it after you pack it, particularly if you use any outside pockets or take advantage of the expandable zipper. And, keep in mind that the space under the seat in front of you varies wildly by plane, carrier configuration and by which seat you’re in, so err on the side of smaller for your personal item.
3. Make a detailed packing list.
Just because you’ve owned up to the inevitable overpacking that will commence doesn’t mean that you don’t need to make a list (you’ll just have a longer list). But don’t just list items willy-nilly. Start by writing down what you will be doing, in detail, each day and make a note of the type of attire you’ll need. For example:
Monday morning: Business meeting with executives (suit)
Monday afternoon: Free time (casual, good for walking around)
Monday evening: Broadway play with clients (dressy)
Proper planning and really thinking through what you will be doing will help to you be sure that you’re ready for every situation.
4. Pick a color scheme and stick to it.
Sure, this may sound like a tip for packing light, but hear me out. If you’re like me, the point of overpacking is to ensure that you’re ready for any situation and can chose your outfits based on what you feel like wearing on any particular day. By sticking to a basic color scheme, like all pieces that go with black, you can pack more without weighing yourself down with double the accessories (shoes, bags or jewelry).
5. Don’t be ashamed.
Traveling should be fun. So what if you’re not that uber stylish person frolicking through the airport with one tiny bag for a week-long trip? You’ll have everything YOU need for a great trip, and that is what’s important.