Picture this, it’s very early morning and you need to get from your Soho Airbnb to the Leicester Square tube station to catch a train. This means dragging your suitcase down two flights worth of steep and narrow stairs, across cobblestone streets, up and down more stairs in the tube station. Hurry up you might miss your train! By the time you collapse, panting, on the train with your 60 lb suitcase bulging with more pairs of shoes than you really need you might be rethinking your life choices.

You might even have put the relationships with your travel companions in jeopardy, because not only is it early and everyone is annoyed with the situation, you are also not physically capable (despite your best effort) of carrying that suitcase up and down stairs. Instead, your partner has to carry his suitcase in one hand and your heavier one in the other.

He is not happy with this arrangement.

Burton Wheelie Double Deck, suitcase
Pro tip: Pack the smallest suitcase you can.

So let’s figure out how to avoid this!

Seriously. You don’t need to pack everything you own. Leave some at home.

  • Bag size. Limiting your bag size will force you to edit down your packing to the most important items. Need a smaller bag?
  • Transportation. How are you getting around? Tube, train, plane, boat, steps, smaller Euro cars, Uber? Are there cobblestones? Do you really want to drag a 60 lb bag up a hill in the rain? No. You do not.
  • Laundry.  It does exist in other countries. Many hotels have laundry services and every Airbnb we have stayed in had at least a washer.
    Note: don’t rely on dryers. You’ll probably be doing a lot of air drying. If you’re traveling during the winter or in a cold region you might want to wash just your faster drying layers like tee shirts. I made the mistake of washing a heavy sweater and the thing would never dry.
  • Shoes. They take up a lot of space and you really don’t need more than two pair. One needs to be extra comfortable for walking. The other should be something that works for a dressier occasion like a wedding, business meeting/conference, or a highly anticipated dinner reservation.

Jessica’s Three Rules for Packing

Packing Rule 1: Pack for half of the days you’ll be gone. For our next trip we’ll be traveling for a little over three weeks, which means 1.5 week’s worth of clothing is going into my suitcase.

Packing Rule 2: Check the weather. This feels very obvious, but there’s nothing worse than packing a bulky item like a coat when you don’t need it. I like to add the places I’ll be traveling to in my weather app about a week before the trip. With a quick swipe I can compare the current weather to what I’ve been experiencing at home and get an idea of what I might need to be prepared for the upcoming weather.

Packing Rule 3: Create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. This will build in the ability to mix and match items for different outfits. There is an endless supply of articles out there on how to put together this kind of clothing system, but it really comes down to two things:

  1. Pick a color palette for your trip. My closet has a lot of black, white, and grey. This plus dark wash jeans makes a good starting place.
  2. Don’t pack an outfit that requires unique accessories (like shoes) that you wouldn’t wear with anything else in your bag. On my last trip I had a pair of heels that took up a lot of space in my suitcase. They hurt my feet and I wore them exactly two times.

When packing limit your bag size. Keep in mind how you’ll be traveling and where your bags will need to fit. Don’t forget you can re-wash garments during your travels. If you find you really should have packed a few more articles of clothing, go shopping! Some of my favorite souvenirs are clothes.

Following these rules can help save yourself a lot of headaches when you make it to your destination. How do you make the most of your packing?