How to pack for a week in a carry-on…

I love to travel, but I have to admit that I hate to pack.  Let me clarify.  I don’t hate trying to organize the items that I’m taking into my suitcase, that part is actually fun, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that I’m a professional organizer.  What I hate is trying to decide what to take and therefore I historically end up hauling around way too much on my vacations.

When presented with an opportunity recently to spend a week in Paris, I realized this would be the perfect opportunity to change my ways and downsize from my large blue suitcase to my smaller blue carry-on case.  My initial goal was to limit myself to five pairs of shoes (the last time I was oversees, I took eight pairs) and a reasonable amount of clothing, whatever that means.

In addition to setting these somewhat vague limits, I took the initiative to consult with a number of individuals, including three colleagues and my mom, on how they manage to travel light.  Those consultations really opened my eyes and I greatly appreciated the advice these individuals gave me.

What made the biggest difference for me though, was a shift in my perspective.  My travel perspective has always been to “plan for all eventualities”, which factors in thoughts, such as:

• maybe we will want to go out to a fancy dinner after sightseeing all day

• maybe I will wake up early and exercise in the morning

• maybe a cold / warm front will come through, or maybe it will rain a lot

In planning for all of these eventualities though, I was overwhelming myself and my suitcase.  The new travel perspective that I adopted and which served me very well was “ready enough for eventualities.”

Ready enough for eventualities resulted in me getting real with myself and concluding:

• we could still have plenty of wonderful French meals without getting dressed up

• I would not need to be exercising in the mornings because we would be doing a significant amount of walking

• dressing in layers and taking one rain jacket would allow us to stay warm enough and dry enough 95% of the time

This new perspective of “ready enough for eventualities” resulted in my husband and I each packing for a week in Paris in carry-on suitcases and still coming home with clean clothes.

Tomorrow – Tips for reducing how much you need to take and still be “ready enough for eventualities”.


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