packing, simplify, travel

On Not Over-Packing

. . . because that’s what I’m doing today. : )

On Wednesday, my husband and I are leaving for a few days in Hong Kong followed by two weeks in Japan, where we’ll visit Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. I’ve never been to Asia before, so I’m pretty excited.

I have a love / hate relationship with packing. I love the idea of having just what I need; I hate the stress of not over– or under–packing and the possibility of forgetting something important. But I’m happy to say that I’m getting over the stressful end of it, mainly by realizing that I’m not taking any medications on which my life depends, thankfully, so there really isn’t anything I can forget that is all that important.

Except my passport, but my husband packs those and checks for them approximately 462 times before we even get on the plane. And we pack several copies of them just in case. It’s good to marry someone whose OCD is comparative to one’s own, n’ect–ce pas?

On to packing!

I’ll post more about the actual stuff I’m packing—clothing and such—tomorrow, but here are my favorite bags / organizers / packing vessels.

Packing vessels? What does that even mean? Gentle reader, why do you continue to encourage this mindless drivel?

pack all

My Carry–On

pack bag

If you’re looking for a picture of my checked baggage, you won’t find one because guess what? No checked baggage!

Yep, that’s right. I pack a carry–on, my husband packs a carry–on, and that’s all we take with us. Even when we went to France and I worried about not being fashionable enough to be allowed in its borders. Even when we went to England for an entire month and had to be prepared for the 12 different kinds of weather you can have in the course of one day in that lovely land. Even when we’re going to Asia and we keep reading things that say, “Pack everything because you won’t be able to read the labels on anything at all ever.” Even when I’m writing in nothing but fragments.

I used to read a lot of blog posts about packing only a carry–on, and I was fascinated by the wise, minimalistic, worldly advice from these deep, spiritual people who had it all figured out and hopped on a plane / ship / rickshaw to anywhere with merely a toothbrush and a healthy dose of wanderlust.

Want the shallower, more vapid version? You came to the right place. Pack less stuff! You’ll survive!

Seriously, though. You can rewear clothing and wash unmentionables in the bathroom sink.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll go into greater detail about how much I pack—you can always count on more detail from Tolstoy’s own daughter over here—but a good general rule is to count the number of days you’ll be there, divide the number by three, then pack that many outfits. That would be “one third” for you calculus majors out there.

I have this travel bag from Cath Kidston. It fits international carry–on regulations, and the size and shape of it allow for my packing sleeves (keep reading).

I know there’s a whole debate out there about rolling suitcase vs. backpack vs. duffle vs. whatever, but my only contribution to that is that I hate rolling suitcases on public transportation (too cumbersome), I’ve never found a backpack that wasn’t completely uncomfortable (thank you, scoliosis), and this duffle bag has polka dots.

Polka dots. Always a good way to win a debate.

Packing Sleeves

pack sleeves

I love packing sleeves from Eagle Creek. They make it easy to fold your clothing neatly, squish it into a small space without adding too many wrinkles, and keep it organized as you go from destination to destination.

I don’t always pack both of them, but I choose which one(s) I’ll need based on what I’m packing.

These are absolutely my favorite packing items of all. I would save them in a fire (right after I saved my dog and my Norton Shakespeare, obviously).

Packing Cubes

pack cubes

Sending you over to Eagle Creek again to see these. I use these for bulkier items such as swimsuits, pajamas, and unmentionables (<– why are they called that if I just mentioned them?).

These are also great for organization. We usually go to several locations in the same trip, so I don’t have the luxury of unpacking and putting everything in its place in the hotel room. I like being able to find everything and not worry that I’m going to look like that forlorn, wrinkly traveler the whole time.

Foldaway bag

pack foldaway

Another great reason not to pack much is to leave room for what you want to bring back. We aren’t big souvenir–buyers by any means, but I like bringing home a memento or two, and I always get something for my nieces and nephew (souvenirs from Tokyo Disneyland, anyone?).

I have a small foldaway shopper from Cath Kidston. Here’s a link to all of her current foldaways (it looks like there are only large ones in stock at the moment). Mine folds up like this:

pack folded
(about 6 inches by 12 inches, or roughly 1 iPhone by 2 iPhones if you use my standard system of measurement)

I pack it in my carry–on, then I use it as my personal item on the way home. It fits quite a bit of stuff in it, and the flat case snaps to the inside of the bag as an inner pocket.

Shoulder bag

pack baggalini

I have a Baggalini crossover bag (similar) that we take on day trips. I like the shape of this one because it’s easy to slip in and out of my carry–on during the voyage to wherever we’re going. I’ll leave it in my bag to go through airport security, then take it out before we get on the plane. That’s where I pack what I’ll need on the flight so I can stow it under the seat in front of me and not have to be that obnoxious person accessing the overhead bin every 45 minutes.

When we arrive, I put it back in my carry–on so that I can get through customs / cab ride / subway / whatever without as many pieces to monitor.

NB: I got my Baggalini crossover at TJ Maxx for about $20, and a friend of mine found Eagle Creek packing sleeves at Nordstrom Rack for a steal.

Any packing secrets? You know I turn to the internet for all major life advice.

PS: Not a sponsored post—I just love Eagle Creek and Cath Kidston (but if Cath wants to come wallpaper my entire home in her awesomeness, I’m happy to oblige).

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