Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.

Saved! Access Favorites in your account profile. Removed from my favorites

7 Secrets To Never Overpacking Again

  1. Begin
    Packing_Opener
    Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    Anyone can throw a bunch of clothes into a bag and call it packing, but to be truly prepared for a trip — without hauling around every item in your closet — a more methodical approach is required. My 20-plus years on the road as a travel writer (and enthusiast) have helped me hone my technique.

    Whether you’re planning to play tourist or you're all business, what to pack comes down to a handful of questions you need to ask yourself before you snap that TSA-approved travel lock shut. Follow these tips for a more streamlined suitcase, weekender, or, for the true minimalist, backpack. Bon voyage.

    This month, we're asking you to toss out everything you thought you knew about spring cleaning and give every corner of your life a refresh. The inspiration for a happier, clutter-free you is right this way.


    Begin Slideshow
  2. Illustrated by Paolo Delucca.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    0 of 7
    }

    Whether it’s a layering piece for business, club-hopping, or outdoor pursuits, is it durable enough to multi-task? A silky cami can work beneath a sheer blouse or blazer, or even function as sleepwear; cotton tanks are ideal for more casual trips. If I’m headed somewhere seriously cold, I also bring a merino version like Woolies camis and racerbacks by Ibex, which are cute, comfy, stink-proof, quick-drying, indestructible, and equipped with built-in bras.

  3. Illustrated by Paolo Delucca.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    1 of 7
    }

    I'm a sucker for shoes, so this is always my biggest challenge. But I start by thinking about the climate and planned activities, and then I let the length of my trip and space constraints dictate what to pack. The right shoe can dress up any look, from super distressed jeans or cut-offs to urban exercise-wear.

    My go-to down-time shoe for major backpacking trips are inexpensive cloth Mary Janes from Urban Outfitters or whatever Chinatown I happen to be passing through. I can tuck them into my day pack if I need to transition from day to evening, and while they’re not ideal for all-day walking excursions, you can slip in a pair of arch supports or liners to amp up the support factor. Bonus: Ditch them at trip’s end, and make more room for souvenirs.

    Other reliable picks include lightweight street sneakers (like Keds), ballet flats, and flat-heeled booties. I’ve been known to go out dancing in my hiking boots on a tropical beach, but I don’t recommend it.

  4. Illustrated by Paolo Delucca.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    2 of 7
    }

    If you never wear a particular item when it's hanging in your closet, then what makes you think you would wear it on a trip? Part of my packing strategy — besides practicality — is to limit myself to items that I feel like myself in. Travel (especially when it’s of the long-term and/or backpacking variety) can take its toll on your psyche, no matter how much fun you’re having. If you don’t feel comfortable and confident, it can affect your whole mindset; you don't want to be bogged down by that while you're trying to experience a new place. The better you feel, the more powerful you are, even if you’re not dressed to the nines.

  5. Illustrated by Paolo Delucca.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    3 of 7
    }

    If you're going to, say, a destination wedding, you probably have a good idea of what activities you'll be doing and what garments they'll require. But even without a firm itinerary, think about travel logistics and what you enjoy doing, which is a good indicator of what you'll be inclined to do at your destination. Then, make sure the item in question can multitask. I’m a big fan of black T-shirts. I usually bring a tank, a “working” shirt, and a sexy, more fitted version. Substitute your item of choice, but remember that having a few dark, solid-colored pieces is always smart, as minor stains won't render them useless.

  6. Illustrated by Paolo Delucca.

    SHARE IT

    comments
    See All Slides
    4 of 7
    }

    Yes, it’s comforting to have a beloved pair of jeans or your favorite flannel on the road, but it's also a good idea to temper that impulse with how devastated you'll be if they don’t make it home. Any item that you couldn't stand to lose — whether it's a true investment piece or it's just loaded with sentimental value — might be safer at home. If you plan to check your luggage, the risk of loss (or theft) is inherently greater; if you're traveling with a carry-on and staying in five-star hotels in safe areas, you may not need to worry as much. Pack a couple of well-worn items, just make sure they’re not your besties.