We breezed off the plane and I turned on my turbo-walking mode. The one that leaves small children in the dust and embarrasses the heck out of my laid-back husband. Time was sort of, maybe of, the essence. There was one last flight toward home that night and my firefighter guy had to work at 7am the next day.
As we breezed by literally hundreds of people standing around a baggage carousel that had not even begun to circle, even that sweet and chill husband of mine had to smile. Not a single other person was moving away from the baggage area. Turbo-walking me felt a silent victory cheer rise up in my chest. (Over what, I’m not sure. Sometimes my competitive side just jumps out.)
Regardless, we were the first to march up to customs. With carry-ons slung over our shoulders, we were feeling pretty good about the time we had to spare before our connection.
“No checked luggage, huh? That was smart. How’d you get her to do that?”
Insert side-eye. And raised eyebrows. Directed at my husband. From me.
For the past fourteen years, I’ve been slowly converting my man from an extreme over-packer to a streamlined packing machine. Or something like that. I mean, this is the man who went to church camp for a week and literally took a trunk of clothes – which included about three outfits per day. Considering his groomsmen had to tell him not to wear a brown belt with black shoes and half of his current wardrobe is fire department t-shirts, this is sort of mind-boggling to me.
But here is where I will lose some of you. If you’re really into having lots of shoe options or if you don’t feel all that flexible about your vacation wardrobe, you might want to stop reading. I still love you, but my packing tips may make you run for the hills. So, click away to some BuzzFeed lists or cat videos or something that doesn’t make you want to scream at me.
We’re headed to visit Grandma and Grandpa Florida for a few days over spring break. Which means we are flying. Which means a budget (read: cheap but charges for every single “extra”) airline. Which means we each have a backpack in which to pack.
Secretly, the competitive side of me is rising up and seeing it as a challenge for how much extra space I have or how much I can pack.
Here is how it’s going so far…
1) Wear the biggest stuff you plan to take.
There is NO way I’d give precious space for my tennis shoes (or boots – I ALWAYS wear them on travel days if we are headed someplace colder). Same goes for the jeans. They take up way too much space. So, if they make the cut, I’ll be wearing them. That said, chances are the tennis shoes will get traded out for something I can slip on and off at airport security. But, if I go with two pairs of shoes, I promise the bulkier one will be on my feet.
2) Pick one pair of shoes to pack.
If you’re going with two pairs, plan your outfits around the pair you wear and the pair you pack. I know that this means you may have to make some sacrifices, but it will save SO much space. Once I picked some sandals for this Florida trip, I had to eliminate a couple of shirt options. But, for me, it’s worth it.
3) Go with clothes that aren’t going to be a wrinkled mess.
We will be going to church while we’re in Florida, so I needed something dressy. Not only am I going with just a carry-on, but I am also NOT getting up early to iron on day one of our mini-vacay. The pink skirt (LulaRoe, if you’re wondering) is stretchy and textured and perfect for a dressy option that has to travel in a backpack. The blue shirt (as you can see) can’t hold up to being folded after laundry day. So, it is going to look even worse if I try to take it on this trip. It goes back to the ironing pile and far, far from my packing.
4) Pick clothes that give you lots of options.
I wear scoop neck or v-neck shirts a lot. Stop judging me. But, honestly, they’re great for a trip. This time, I’m taking a pair of denim shorts and gray capri pants along with four plain scoop neck or v-neck shirts (including the one I’m wearing with the pink skirt!). I grab these babies at Old Navy or even Walmart because they are cheap, come in a color to match anything and work great as a layer throughout the year. And they cost $5 or less most of the time. (If you’re more into clothes than I am – which is probably most people – and you didn’t click away already, I’m really sorry for offending your fashion sensibilities. This is probably painful for you to read.)
Also, I don’t let myself play the “What if we go here and I wish I had ______?” or “Maybe I’ll change my mind, so I’ll take a few more choices.” Seriously. Just don’t. Throw in some extra underwear and an extra shirt. It will be okay!
5) Think thin.
If you need a warmer layer, go as thin as you can. I love my navy fire department hoodie, but that thing would fill half of my backpack! The reddish one is super-thin, yet keeps my arms covered (read: warmer). It honestly takes up about a fourth of the space of the navy hoodie.
6) Roll, baby, roll.
If you’ve picked thin, lightweight materials, this is going to be easy. Fold them into a rectangle and roll them. They end up being so tiny! That’s my backpack with all of my clothes for a 5-day (including travel) trip. If I ditched the capris for leggings, it would shrink even more. But, I would then have to rethink my stance on the outfits in which leggings can serve as pants debate and I just don’t want to do that tonight!
For some trips, I go lighter. For example, when I can get away with only sandals, I skip socks (and I’m not a huge fan of socks anyway – win, win!). Or, if we’re staying for a longer time with a family member, I’ll just plan to do laundry mid-trip. There are times you just have to pack more just because of what you’ll need, such as winter-weather clothes (no matter the material, those are always going to be thicker!) or certain business attire. But all of the tips above I use nearly every time we travel.
The result? No checked bag fees. Less luggage to haul around when you’re driving and no worrying about your bag getting lost when you’re flying. Plus a better chance to make your connecting flight even when you schedule it really close and have to go through customs in between. Not that the last one has even happened to me…