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Your Travel Partner’s Packing Style Means More Than You Think

your travel partner's packing style

It doesn’t matter how small or smart you pack, if your travel partner hasn’t tamed their packing style, you will still feel the effects of poorly packed luggage.

At least that’s what one HPL reader discovered.

On a trip with her sister, she said there were countless times where the overpacked nature of the sister’s luggage got in the way, or held them back in some manner.

From the extra time it took to pack up the “amazing exploding super heavy rolly suitcase/backpack” each morning to the inability to get from point A to B without extra care, it no longer mattered that our reader had brought but a compact 30L backpack.

I thought this topic was really interesting so I wanted to share it with you all today, because it’s true. You can pack with all the best tips in the world, but if your travel partner has brought 2 giant suitcases, then you still might:

  • have to wait longer to get out of the hotel in the morning,
  • spend more money on taxis and transport when you would rather walk,
  • find alternate routes that involve elevators and escalators instead of stairs,
  • wait at baggage claims even when you already have all your luggage,
  • walk much, much slower.

And that kind of defeats the purpose.

Check With Your Travel Partner

Before heading off on your next adventure with your best friend, or sister, or mother or brother, it might be a good idea to learn more about their travel style (yes, including packing style)… because that can often dictate the amount of freedom (or lack thereof) you may have. Backpack or suitcase? Carry-on only or multiple bags?

Get On the Same Page

If you’re a light packer but are worried about a travel partner, there are a number of things you can do to help get them on the same page:

  • Introduce them to Her Packing List
  • Create your packing lists together, and then compare and explain the reasoning behind each item
  • Talk about the consequences of not packing in a similar fashion
  • Entice lighter packing with the excuse of shopping!
  • Share travel clothes and other items to minimize bulk
  • Do a packing trial run

It won’t be easy. But just like it’s important to get on the same page with your travel friends about how much, how fast, and where you want to travel, it’s just as important to talk about packing.

Think of it this way: Your luggage is an extra responsibility when you travel. It’s a weight that is wrapped around your ankle, slowing you down, both physically and mentally. Whether it’s you or your travel partner that’s wearing it, it will affect you both.

Unless you get on the same page.

Do you have a story similar to share? Have any tips for getting your travel partner on the same packing page?

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


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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.


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Travel Resources

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Reader Interactions


  1. v says

    Two more ideas:

    * Share the load. Especially if there’s a specific reason why the other person needs more luggage, dividing the total more evenly may speed the two of you up.

    * Share items. If there are things you both need, can they be shared between you instead of bringing two? Can you share clothes to have more wardrobe options?

    • Brooke says

      Great ideas! I’m not sure how I forgot to mention the share items one since we just had a post go up about that not too long ago- just added it in to the post! Thanks!

  2. Lady Light Travel says

    Preach it! I’ve had the same thing happen to me when others chose to bring huge suitcases. A least in my case it was a road trip, but my travel partner had to make multiple trips to load/unload luggage to the auto. It also takes up a lot of space in the hotel room. Things get lost because stuff is spread out all over the place.
    I think the only solution is to not help them and force them to deal with it on their own. They do notice that you are having a much easier time then they are. That’s the first step of “maybe I should try it”.
    Another strategy is to use the first stop to go through the partner’s suitcase and pack a carry on for them. Then check the big bag at the hotel or airport for the remainder of the trip.

  3. Andria says

    My partner isn’t super great when it comes to packing, but since he’s a guy, he’s certainly less high-maintenance than girlfriends. What DOES drive me batty is how bad he is at going through airport security. He doesn’t know the rules, always wears shoes that are hard to get off/on, frequently forgets to take off his belt, etc. Meanwhile, I can get ready to walk through the sensor in 1/8 of the time, and he always thinks I’ve abandoned him, even though I’m just getting out of the way!

  4. Jessica Lippe says

    It’s little details like this that make me think that solo travel must be way easier than traveling with someone else, although things like saving money and not being lonely are definitely perks of having a travel buddy. For now, I mostly travel solo, but of course I’m open to partner travel in the future.

    I guess having a similar (or better) travel style should be a quality of my future husband! Haha, that’s something to think about: How does travel prepare you for a future spouse?

  5. Tinka says

    Totally agree! Both have to be on the same page, otherwise it doesn’t work.
    Before our last round the world trip, I convinced my partner to travel light and with only a carry on. First he thought it’s an impossible idea since we travelled within all seasons (during his previous year long trips he never questioned the use of his beloved 80l backpack), it took a few months of preparation and shorter ‘trial packing’ vacation till he agreed. Now he’s totally convinced and he mentioned that some stuff in his carry on backpack (45l) was useless/too much and he will go with even less next time. Just after the trip we sold our 80l backpacks.

  6. Jessica says

    No advice here, but I did just live this experience. I traveled to Florida with my mom and we stayed in a tiny house. Everything I needed packed into a carry on suitcase, which stowed nicely under the stairs. My mom (bless her heart) packed two big bags and within an hour of arriving, her stuff was everywhere! I will definitely be taking my travel companion’s lifestyle and packing habits into consideration next time!!

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