Help! I’ve Forgotten How to Pack

I've forgotten how to pack!

Have you ever dreaded packing so much that you were actually physically unable to begin the process of packing?!

My friend, Erica, reached out to me a few weeks ago in a bit of a panic. She was needing to pack for her return to living overseas for the next year and felt like she had both forgotten how to pack and how to get started. Erica has a strong connection with her clothes and bases her ability to pack awesomely on how much she can cram into a suitcase.

Only this time she didn’t want to overpack and go way over the weight restrictions.

Where. to. start?

For a situation like this, I recommend the Whittle Down Method.

Instead of sitting on the bed, staring at a full closet, mentally trying to pick out bits and pieces for the suitcase — toss it all in a bag.

That’s right! Pull out anything and everything that you think you WANT to pack for a trip. Take it out of the closet, and out of your drawers, so you can have a better look at it.

This is the point where you may realize you have packed too much. Now, you begin to whittle down your packing list.

Whittling down the items in your luggage, I find, is much easier when done out of the overwhelming confines of a closet. Instead of looking at every top you own, you can now evaluate the 5 or 10 that you pulled out.

It’s not easy, but do know that I use this method to pack for just about every trip I take.

Choose the tops, the bottoms, the extra layers and so on that you value LEAST — either in terms of fashion or trip syle. Put those back in the closet and drawers. Keep going until you have your suitcase down to a reasonable level.

By the end of the process, you will both have a lighter bag AND be taking only the items that you value and love the most. No more carrying around extra weight.

Ultimately this means less wasted luggage space, and you know how we feel about that at Her Packing List!

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm producing episodes of The UnPacking List or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. VacayGirl says

    And always pack the outfits or the clothing that make you feel good about you. Even something you look hot in can still be uncomfy and make you feel out of place. So always remember to pack the good stuff that makes you feel great. Also, grab things that can go with something else. A pair of shoes that can go with 2 or more outfits instead of just one. Or a pair of jeans that can go with multiple tops (shirts are always easier to pack than pants.) Those few little tricks help me pack when I’m headed out on my travels. Good article!

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