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 we like to call 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.
Of course no one wants to have to purchase things they could have packed while on vacation. It’s good to know, however, that it’s possible. There are stores and pharmacies all across the globe. People sell and wear clothing, and they use things like soap and toothpaste.
I don’t know about you, but less worry makes the whole packing and travel experience better!
2. Know that re-wearing an outfit is not the end of the world.
Our rule of thumb is to pack for no more than a week’s worth of clothes and plan to wash, then re-wear. If you happen to wear the same top multiple times in the process – no dramas!
3. Look at plausibility before adding extra items to your luggage.
In regards to the comments our inner worried mom voice was making in the intro of this post, think about the actual likelihood of those events happening:
- 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. Don’t let yourself get tempted to pack extras at the last minute. Stay strong! You got this.
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?
- If you do decide to go to a fancy restaurant, do you have something (like a simple maxi dress) that you can dress up with accessories and lipstick?
Most of the time, we can get by with what we have packed. It might not be the perfect thing you wanted, but at the end of the day, your experience probably won’t be affected much, if at all.
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!
Yes, it’s probably easier said than done. Stay strong and don’t let the inner worried mom voice get the best of your packing.