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The Reasons You’re NOT Packing Light

All the reasons you're not packing light - and info to help fix them!

Packing light is a relative concept.

We all have our own definitions for what packing light actually equates to in both size and weight. For me, it’s traveling in a handbag. For you, it might be not having to check a bag. For others, it might be a maximum of 10 pounds.

While our definitions can vary, the reasons that we can’t actually achieve those goals (at least easily) tend to float around – for the majority – a few basic concepts.

Here are the common reasons we can’t pack light – and some info that can help you solve those problems!

My 8L Pacsafe bag that packs enough for a week-long trip!
I can pack or a week in this 8L bag! You can learn how in Handbag Packing Masterclass.

1 – Can’t give up stuff

Yes, I know it’s hard to leave behind those extra things that *could be* fun and perfect in the right situations. We love our things – that’s why we have them.

I’m not here to tell you to get rid of your stuff; I’m here to remind you that it’s OK to leave things at home when you travel. Bring the right things – and the right amounts – on your trips.

Here are some common reasons that go into this category:

➡️ I love shoes! I can’t travel with just 2 pairs!

Shoes are hard. I find that it may take a bit of compromise to have the perfect mix of shoes in a small number. I suggest having a read of this post for ideas: How to Choose Your Travel Shoes

➡️ I like to have options!

Putting together super versatile capsule wardrobes and investing in versatile pieces will give you more options with fewer items.


2 – Insecurities

It can be a harsh reality, but sometimes our insecurities affect the way we pack our bags. Some common reasons that go into this category:

➡️ I don’t want to look the same in every travel photo!

This is such a common reason, but I have to ask… If you’re having an amazing time on your trip, then why are your clothes such a huge focal point?

This article might help: The Question That Can Change Your Packing Style

➡️ I don’t like my body and pack more to compensate.

If we’re not happy with the way we look and feel, it can be hard to be confident in our packing choices. Many women will overpack (clothes, makeup, etc.) to compensate. If you do like to have more, I recommend thinking creatively for ways to downsize in the process.

Try our Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit course! (Tip: You can get this for FREE when you join our next Handbag Packing Masterclass!)


3 – Certain circumstances

They may be out of our control. However, there’s always a way to downsize for these situations so you can still pack lighter than you do today.

➡️ I have a medical reason that adds a lot to my packing.

It could be a CPAP machine or traveling with diabetes that makes packing light hard. My advice is to do the best with what you can control so that you have the best possible experience for your specific needs.

➡️ I’m plus-sized, and my clothes are bigger.

While plus-sized clothing may take up more space in your luggage, there are many ways you can take control of your packing and pack light.

First off, think critically and creatively about ways to minimize other parts of your packing list (like your toiletry and beauty kit!).

Secondly, by investing in the right clothing pieces, you can have a travel wardrobe with more utility and less bulk than the one you are currently packing. I recommend some merino wool and quick-dry clothing items, as well as the added convertible/multi-way piece or two.

Oh, and leggings! Here are some plus-size travel leggings options.

➡️ It’s a long trip or a trip with variable weather.

It definitely adds some extra packing considerations when going away under these circumstances. Here are the posts that can help:


4 – Inexperience

➡️ I don’t know how to pack light!

Lack of knowledge can be a huge reason for not packing light! Luckily, Her Packing List is full of information to help guide you. Our community is also very helpful for addressing common issues and concerns. I highly suggest joining us there.

➡️ I don’t have the confidence for packing light!

If you worry and constantly ask yourself, “What if?…”, then these resources can help:

  • Overcoming Fear, Worry, & What-If When Packing – Fear, worry, and what-if are the biggest reasons we tend to overpack our luggage for a trip. This 23-minute presentation will help you overcome these issues so you can finally pack light and be less anxious in the process.
  • Handbag Packing Masterclass – Our next class starts in September and will guide you through the process I use to pack ultralight. Gain the confidence it takes to pack in a personal item for a one-week trip.

Of course, these are just some of the reasons you might be struggling with packing light. I’d love to invite you into our travel community, HPLWorld, so we can help you overcome these issues and achieve your packing light goals.

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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 planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)


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