The trick to ‘not’ overpacking

Recently, I read somewhere (where, I can’t remember) that the thing most people (I) do when they (I) start packing for a holiday is go into some sort of survival mode.

In case you haven’t worked it out yet, I am an over-packing repeat offender. So this is for me as much as it is for you.

Anyway, people forget they’re going away from home, and instead of embracing the freedom that comes with not having all your crap come along with you, they pack everything they think they could possibly need whilst they’re away. Wrong mindset.

So, here’s tip number one: the ‘what ifs’ don’t need to be packed – neither do the ‘maybe ifs’.

It pays to remember that you are supposed to be going away, so what’s the point of taking everything with you? Especially when you know (like me) that time after time you come home with a bag that has only had half its contents used.

So list the bare essentials. Socks, jocks, t-shirts, shirts, jeans/slacks, shorts, shoes, thongs, and so on. If you think you need two t-shirts, etc., assess whether or not you can get away with only one. Add your toiletries and your necessary devices, such as your phone and camera (assuming your phone camera is not so good). Take one book, one notebook and a pen. List done – give or take a few items.

Anything else you think you may need, but of which you are not quite sure, does not go into your bag. You can always buy or borrow stuff if the need arises. And you may surprise yourself at how inventive you can be when you’re not surrounded by life’s little luxuries.

Also, when making decisions on what to pack, ask yourself these questions for every item you place in your bag:

  1. How much do I need this?
  2. How much space will it occupy?
  3. How heavy is it?
  4. Can I replace it with one item that serves the purpose of two?
  5. Do I really need this?


Critiquing each item with these five queries will shave your bag weight by half – guaranteed.

Okay, so that’s the secret to packing lighter. Now, if we (I) can just put it into practice …

Related articles:
How not to pack for a cruise
How not to pack
How to pack a weekend bag

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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