I always underestimate the packing process. For some reason, my mind convinces me it’s super easy and I can just throw an assortment of clothes and toiletries into my suitcase and I’ll be fine. And for some trips, that’s okay and it works well enough. But not when I’m going to London for a month.
This past week, my parents were out of town on a business trip, so I thought I’d use packing as a way to keep myself busy and entertained while they were gone. Monday night came and went, and I did nothing. Tuesday night, same story. Wednesday afternoon, I did laundry and finally unpacked my suitcase from VT, so that was a start.
Then Thursday, I looked at my calendar and saw that I was leaving in two days. So I guessed, at that point, I should get myself in gear and actually start packing rather than keep thinking, I should probably start packing tonight.
There’s a science to packing. After going back and forth between VT and Pennsylvania for three years, I’ve learned how to pack (somewhat) efficiently: fitting as much as I can into as few boxes and suitcases as possible. I’ve managed with two suitcases and no more than three boxes for the past few years, and my car still had some space to spare. I’d consider that a packing success, especially this last year coming back from my apartment.
(Well, I could leave some things at my apartment, like my bedding and towels and winter coat, so it’s not like I brought my entire life back with me. Although my parents might beg to differ on that one.)
|Packing champ status achieved? I think so.|
But air travel is a whole different ball game. Most, if not all airlines, have a 50-pound weight limit for checked bags. One pound over and boom, fee. Packing efficiently takes on a whole new meaning when extra money might be involved.
So I asked myself, how can I pack everything I’ll need for an entire month and still keep my suitcase under 50 pounds? At first, it seemed nearly impossible. I’d need jeans and shorts and shirts and maybe a dress and shoes and…
Well, by some miracle, I did it. I successfully fit about 10 shirts, 4 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of shorts, 2 sundresses, a skirt, a towel, underwear, running shoes, rain shoes and a small bag of toiletries in a medium-sized suitcase. And I can estimate it’s between 30-40 pounds, maximum.
My saving grace is that t-shirts are light and can be easily rolled into little cylinders for easier packing. Another saving grace is I don’t have to take fancy dress clothes of any sort. The “fanciest” items I’m taking are my two sundresses. Packing dress clothes always causes issues…you have to fold and pack them in a way that they won’t get wrinkled or bunched up, and that isn’t always avoidable.
Some people said they’ve made this trip surviving out of a carry-on-sized duffle. How? Share your secrets! I know you have to make choices and pack only what you need, but I could not imagine packing for a month in a carry-on. Props to those guys.
But really, even though I couldn’t reduce my stuff down to a carry-on, making a weight limit really makes you think about what you really need and have space for. Do I wish I could take my flat iron with me? Absolutely, because I know my hair will turn into a shoulder-length frizz fest in the London rain? Do I have room for it? No. Would I fry it with the sockets and adapters and such, anyway? Probably. That happened when my family went over a few years ago. Don’t want to RIP another flat iron.
So anyway, some last packing tips from me:
- Roll your shirts into little cylinders and stack them in the bottom of your suitcase. Much easier.
- Stuff socks into deeper shoes, like boots.
- Fold your jeans/longer pants in thirds, not in half and then half again. Makes them flatter and easier to squish.
- Squish everything as flat as possible.
- Pack your suitcase in “sections”: jeans/pants on one side, rolled shirts on another, towel(s) in another, etc. Keeps it all separate and organized.
- Keep a checklist of everything you need to pack and check it off when you know it’s in your suitcase!
And by some miracle, my suitcase is still under 50 pounds. We’ll see how that changes when it’s time to leave London in June!