As an Army brat, my family moved over continents and across big oceans every 20 minutes or so. Aside from developing OCD tendencies, packing effectively and efficiently has become second nature.
I recently took a short jaunt to visit my sister in Phoenix. Staying three days in mixed climes between Prescott and Sedona, I packed a small backpack with just enough to cover a few hikes, a fun night out, and standard fare for hanging out and walking around town. I threw in toiletries, an iPad, an extra jacket and a few presents for the holidays.
A short visit with a small bag. Not a lot of stuff. I'm not Diana Ross.
Unless you have been riding Amtrak to the Caribbean for the last decade, you know airport travel isn't what it used to be. Whenever I fly, the incentive to pack light increases by a factor of 10.
It's not often that I travel solo. Throw in my 2-year-old and my wife's stuff and "less is more" becomes a family mantra.
Ask any travel savvy connoisseur, and they will tell you packing is a Ninja's art. Getting it right reveals just how little we need to be comfortably prepared. Getting it wrong forces us into long lines at customs, wrestling our stuff, desperately searching for wheeled luggage carts, and waiting for hours (or days) in the lost luggage department - the dreaded DMV of international airports.
Let's examine my key considerations when packing for any excursion. I recommend the Intentional Solutions three-step method: (1) Simplify, (2) Clarify and (3) Inspire.
1. Simplify. Purge out whatever is not absolutely required. Only pack items that can serve double or triple duty. Unless you actually are Diana Ross, stick to clothes that will wrinkle-out with a light spritz from a spray bottle the night before.
I stay with roughly the same color scheme so I can mix and match any number of items for weather-appropriate layering as conditions change. Adjust your configuration enough times, and nobody will notice you already wore something once two days ago under something else.
The goal here is to bring the absolute fewest number of items essential to your trip.
2. Clarify. Here we go. Arrange all that has been determined to be essential, using Intentional Solutions' four points of organization.
Sort items so they are (1) like things together, (2) easy to find, (3) easy to reach, but (4) out of the way.
Small stuff-sacks or Ziplock storage bags are great for keeping like things together, also making them easy to find and easy to pull out of our bag. Keeping items we'll need quickly or frequently (boarding passes, cell phone, snacks) on top will save time and hassle when the need arises.
Intentional packing is the most effective when it is not necessary to completely unpack when asked for ID. (To that lady in front of me at the airport, duh!)
3. Stay inspired. People, love your luggage. Find a bag that inspires you to travel more frequently and more efficiently.
I have always found my favorite travel luggage second-hand in local consignment stores. No need to buy new. Quality products last forever when taken care of.
Get your systems dialed down just the way you like them, and you will discover that schlepping your stuff doesn't have to be a pain.
Travel is about simplifying life, removing mundane distractions and creating some room to savor profound experiences on the road. Bringing along the bare essentials liberates us to enjoy our adventures as hassle-free and hands-free as possible. You may be surprised how much more you get out of traveling with less in your bag.
- "Life. Simplified." appears on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on organizational solutions for households, businesses, nonprofits, students, and life transitions. To suggest column topics, visit the Facebook page "Intentional Solutions." For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 366.2532 or email evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.