Best practice when it comes to packing - Pack Light! Obvious, right?
It's harder than it sounds. I drive much of the time, but I also use public transit. If you're driving your own vehicle you can stuff it with as much as you want. Just remember that you will accumulate stuff along the way and it is harder to stay organized if you pack too much.
It's a good idea to call your insurance agent and have addition coverage added to your policy. This is so the personal items in your car are covered due to theft or accident. Even if you get this added coverage, if you pack a lot, you'll be forced to leave most in your vehicle overnight and only certain items up to certain values may be covered.
If you're flying, or taking other forms of public transportation, take only what is truly necessary. A friend once asked me, "How much can you comfortably carry walking 10 city blocks?" That is what you should pack.
I pack only what I need first, if there is room I put in a little extra. 40lbs. is the max amount I usually tote. It sounds like a lot of weight to lug around, doesn't it? But, if properly arranged and spread out, it can feel like a lot less!
Even if my trip is a lengthy one, I will pack no more than my backpack (It's military, expands, and holds more than I need usually) and a long-strapped bag to wear across my chest. My "sling bags" are various sizes and which one(s) I take depend on factors such as where I am going and how long I will be gone. But, I am never without 3 or 4. They are versatile, hold a lot of stuff, and they go with almost any outfit or occasion. More importantly, the roll up tiny and this means I can bring a handful to choose from. Here's a few of my favorites:
Eco-Friendly Sling Bag
Eco-Friendly Sling Bag
Eco-Friendly Sling Bag
Pack of 3 Eco-Friendly Sling Bags - Comes with Free Bracelet
Often, my journeys last for months and I will inevitably wish I had that one thing I left behind I had considered taking. I always survive without that one thing in the end.
Additionally, I will pack a small handbag and make sure it fits in one of my other bags.
How My Packing Has Changed
When I first began to travel I definitely over-packed. I wanted to have a variety of shoes to choose from (walking shoes, sandals, dressier shoes, my hiking boots, and in colder weather I wanted my warm winter boots. etc.) Now, I pack essentials first and extra room left is often for shoes.
I also absolutely love sweatshirts and like a variety of these too. The more of these you pack the heavier your bags are and the less room you have for other items. Here is where the Rule of 2 first comes into play...I usually pack two and have purchased some thinner sweaters that leave more room in my bag and still give me outerwear choices.
Jeans too, oh I love my jeans; straight leg jeans, skinny jeans, dark and light jeans, black jeans and blue jeans, well-worn jeans and dressier jeans... I want them all with me all the time! Way too unrealistic. Again, my rule is two pair is automatic and if there is room I may pack a third if the material is thin.
I like hats and I have had to put the Rule of 2 in place for these as well. Dresses must be easily rolled and do not take too much room compared to other items as they are worn less often. Beauty products are a whole new discussion for a later date!
How To Live With Lighter Bags
Now, you might be wondering how you can possibly survive a three week, three month, or even longer journey with the Rule of 2 in place. It's a little difficult at first because you want that variety and your comfort clothes at hand. Trust me, it's gets easier with time.
Pack mix and match items. I have learned how to shop for tops that can be worn with jeans, shorts, or the one pair of black dress slacks I tote around. I can dress it up with a little jewelry and a nice sweater. Or, play it down with my favorite and well-worn zip-up hoodies and a pair of tennis sneakers.
I have some great tank dresses that roll up to take up hardly any space and they can be casual or dressy depending on how I accessorize everything from my hair to my footwear. I found a great sale at Khols last year and walked out with 3 dresses for $15 total. I can wear them to the beach or out to a club, or a nice dinner.
It's not about looking perfect for me. If you saw me traveling you would know this. I am about comfort first and foremost. But, we all want to look good too. It really doesn't take a huge variety to have great outfit choices. And, there is always washing clothes often to keep the variety of choices up. Laundry isn't always easy on the road - so here are some travel hacks that have kept my clothes fresh.
For instance, my Sperry white tennis sneakers can be worn to the country club or the local dive bar. There are perfectly acceptable and fit it anywhere. Would I love to have my black steel-toe boots to where sometimes? Yes. they are "cool" looking and comfortable. But, they stay in Boston or Vegas because I stay for months at a time in either place. For a three week trip where I am flying to Chicago - it's just not worth carrying the extra weight.
Personal vehicle and public transit are two very different beasts. The Rule of 2 makes life easier in either circumstance. I may miss a few items. But there is no need to drive around with everything I own. And, when I am using other modes of transit, in the end, I would always rather be comfortable carrying my own stuff around with little effort than have a different outfit to wear everyday!