Unless you live in a very small house or have some very large luggage, chances are your closet is bigger than your suitcase. That can make packing a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to bring as much with you as you can.
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Whether you’re embarking on a cross-country tour of Europe and need to pack light or you just bought some real estate in Toronto and want to make the move as simple as possible, here are some helpful tips for cramming a whole lot of living into not a lot of luggage.
Put your left brain in control
They say the right side of your brain is the half where emotion lives while the left side is the domain of cold rationality. That’s not true, but it sure is a handy analogy. When it comes to packing, let your left brain take over. Sentimentality is often the enemy of practically. The first and most important things you should pack are the things you’re really going to need (such as travel documents, medicine, and phone chargers), not just the things you want.
Light clothes are the right clothes
Obviously, this depends on where you’re going and what kind of weather you expect to encounter. But as much as possible, forgo bulky clothing in favor of thinner, lighter items. Go with soft, easily foldable fabrics like cotton over more rigid ones like denim or corduroy. Try to pick multifunctional garments that are appropriate in multiple settings. If you need to bring some heavier outfits, see if you can wear them while traveling. It’s better to reserve that suitcase space for multiple smaller items than just one or two big ones.
If you can buy it, why bring it?
Packing toiletries is always a pain. There’s so many of them and they’re so small, making it easy to lose track of everything. There’s also the concern of canisters breaking and spilling shampoo or toothpaste all over your wardrobe. All that hassle, and for what? Most toiletries are inexpensive and easily replaceable. So go ahead. When you get where you’re going, replace them. Similarly, if you have the option to wash your clothes at your destination, use that as a way of cutting down on the number of outfits you have to bring.
Always keep your valuables close
The one downside of squeezing your entire life into one convenient package is that it makes your entire life all the easier to lose. Or steal. For that reason, avoid storing your most valuable possessions (identification, medicines, smartphone, wallet, jewelry, etc.) in your suitcase and keep them on your person instead, either in a pocket or small waist pouch. Better safe than sorry.
Pretend you’re playing Tetris
There’s room enough for everything (well, almost) as long as you know how to maximize your space. Look at the contents of your luggage not as an obstacle, but as a puzzle. You should be using every available bit of room. If you finish packing and find there’s a few empty gaps too small to put anything in, empty your bag and rearrange things until it’s jigsaw-tight. Slip socks, underwear, and accessories into pants pockets. Roll your clothes into tight bundles instead of folding them. A little organization and ingenuity can make a world of difference.