5 Packing Tips for the Over-Packer

My first trip of the year is coming up in exactly one week so you can bet I’ve been itching to pack for the last month! Unfortunately, I think there is such a thing as packing too early and have had to practice restraint. I made it until this past Thursday and couldn’t take it anymore – in a heart-racing frenzy I pulled out my summer clothes and the packing began!

If you’ve ever gone on a long trip or even a one week holiday, you’ll understand me when I say that packing is a skill that is best when practiced to perfection. While there is a huge difference in packing for a vacation and a six month backpacking trip through various climates, the following packing tips I’m about to share with you will be beneficial for either one:

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1. It all starts with LUGGAGE. You can’t begin to pack until you’ve decided on your luggage of choice. Backpack or suitcase? Hard case or soft? Wheels or no wheels? Dark, neutral colors are popular as they hide wear and tear and your case looking dirty – but have you ever been standing at the carousel watching dozens of the same black suitcase go ’round and ’round? It’s not fun. One trick from the trade is to purchase a unique color or pattern – especially if you’re going with a suitcase. If you just can’t let go of that black beauty you love, attach something bright to help you identify it when you need to.

2. COORDINATE your clothing. I can’t stress this enough! I never used to think up outfits prior to leaving and would just throw in random tops and bottoms. Sure, it’s faster, but more often than not you will end up with a bunch of clothes that never leave your suitcase. You end up wasting space and being upset that you can’t wear your favorite top because you haven’t any bottoms to match. Before tossing clothes in your luggage, create your outfits for your trip. Try them on and try to pick basics that can be worn with more than one item.

3. Roll, Baby, Roll. Rolling your clothes is the best way to create more space and helps reduce wrinkles. Lay your pieces flat and then roll ’em up nice and tight before placing them in your bag.

4. Bring the Basics. When it comes to toiletries, bring the basics. Solid shampoos and conditioners save a ton of space and weight in your bag, coconut oil can be multi-purpose lotion, makeup remover, cooking oil, etc., and you really don’t need your entire eye shadow collection. Embrace the minimalist look and stick to the necessities.

5. Like with Like. This can go two ways: you can either keep each type of clothing together (bottoms with bottoms, tops with tops, dresses with dresses, you get the idea) or you can pack according to outfit, keeping each outfit packed together. You can do this by laying out all the pants in one part of your bag, tops in another, or just by laying out each piece of an outfit together, then another, etc. OR you can opt for clothing organizers that will keep your things separated and allow you to grab what you need without your entire bag exploding in a heap of clothes.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Traveling Alone.

I recently wrote a post about having the courage to acknowledge and pursue a desire for an “unconventional” life, such as one of travel. That got me thinking about one of the biggest reasons people have that stop them from their travel journey:

“I don’t want to go alone.”

I can’t count the number of times someone has told me how much they would love to go somewhere, if only they had someone to go with. For so many reasons on why people believe they shouldn’t travel solo, I am here to tell you why you should.

To travel solo is to let go of everything that you have been certain about for all your life. It is the exhilaration that comes with uncharted territory, language barriers, plans that only last a day and just a backpack of belongings.

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To realize, particularly at a young age, everything that you are capable of doing entirely on your own is one of the best feelings of empowerment and liberation. With no friends to persuade you and no family to guide you, the only person you can count on is yourself. Across the world in an unfamiliar city, this can be slightly terrifying, but it’s the best kind of fear you can allow yourself.

This type of travel offers the freedom to do anything a traveler desires at any point during their trip and at the speed they are comfortable with. Decide halfway through the day that it’s time to move on to the next city? You can do that. Tired of constant travel and want to “settle” in one place for a few weeks? You can do that too. When traveling with a companion there is always a compromise that has to be made whether it be regarding what restaurant to eat at or what attraction to see. When you are solo you have the freedom to be spontaneous in any and all decisions.

This spontaneity is often the key exhilaration factor when traveling alone, as it often leads you to having amazing experiences that you never would have imagined being involved in.

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Loneliness is often people’s biggest misconception about traveling without friends. Sure, there are days that you might spend exploring new places alone. You may even come to prefer eating lunch in a restaurant on your own with a book or a journal to jot down the great things happening to you on your adventure. You may begin to appreciate the true beauty in the art of a museum when  you have the silence to contemplate on your own.

One thing that I’ve found on my own solo travels is that I am much more likely to push myself out of my comfort zone when I don’t have a friend traveling with me. If you’re worried about being constantly alone and bored of your own company, stay in a hostel. It is impossible not to make friends to spend your time with. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to be heading the same way and decide to travel together for a little while. It is these passing strangers that you will share some of the best moments of your life with and remember whenever you tell a travel story.

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Through the moments of doubt, determination, and ambition that often accompanies solo travelers, a person you may not know even existed can emerge.

A trip like this can not only give you incredible memories and allow for unbelievable opportunities, but it can seriously boost a persons self-esteem and identity. I hope each and every person can find the strength to take a breath, say farewell, and board a plane to the destination of their wildest dreams. My only warning to embarking on a solo journey is the risk of falling so in love with embracing new cultures, people, and experiences, that you will be renewed with a new sense of passion and have to take many more adventures.