You had every intention of packing well and light, and at some point in the process, you DID have a well-packed bag.
But then the voice set in.
“What if I spill red wine all over my one nice dress and I have nothing else to wear to the Russian ballet?”
Add another dress.
“What if the weather turns unseasonably cold and it snows when I have my walking tour?”
Boots, hat, gloves. Check.
“What if I find the perfect set of trees overlooking a beach that scream for a loungy day of reading?”
Sure, you have room for a hammock in your backpack.
We all want to be prepared, like a Girl Scout, for anything that might get thrown at us on the road, but that little “What-If” voice can do some serious damage to well-thought-out packing lists.
It’s actually one of the most common responses I get from people who struggle to pack light.
They simply can’t do it because they worry about not having everything they could ever need, for any situation, and just keep adding items at the last minute in a panic. This “inner worried mom voice,” as one of our readers has called it, tries to make sure life goes off without a hitch, and without skinned knees and bruised bums to boot.
This type of being-prepared-for-everything thinking is only beneficial up to a certain point, and after that, it’s like a bell curve with a very slippery slope.
So what’s my advice for those suffering from the “What-If” packing affliction? Read on, and calm that inner worried mother who is frantic at the possibility of you leaving home with wet hair.
1. Remind yourself that people live where you’re going.
Unless you’re traveling to the Arctic or the middle of the jungle, you’ll most likely be able to get what you’re missing, or something similar, on arrival.
2. Know that re-wearing an outfit is not the end of the world.
Granted you have clean undies of course! Just hand-wash as you go.
3. Look at plausibility before adding extra items to your luggage.
- How likely is it that the weather will drop to unseasonably cold temperatures in the middle of May at your destination? Do some research in advance.
- How often do you tend to drink red wine while on holiday? Are you really going to spill it all over you if you tend to favor gin and tonics instead?
- Is lounging with a book actually your preferred method of relaxation, or do you tend to forgo the book? Chances are if you’re not a reader in normal life, you might not be so much on holiday either.
4. Go back to the beginning.
Check blogs and websites, like Her Packing List, to reaffirm your previously decided packing list.
5. Point out contingency plans.
Smart packing is really knowing how to make the most of what you have. For example, if it does happen to get unseasonably cold on your trip, do you have a handful of layerable items that you can wear all at once to provide the proper warmth for a short time? Do you have a pashmina or scarf that can be wrapped around your head in place of a hat?
6. Ask yourself, “Will my trip be ruined if I don’t have this, that or this?”
And when you verify that is not the case, you can bypass the last-minute toss-ins and keep your luggage light light light!
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