I’m a big fan of mind mapping tools. Mind mapping is a way for relational thinkers such as myself, to build structure around an idea or ideas. A mind mapping tool, such as iThoughts HD, which I blogged about earlier this year is a great tool for creating a list of things to pack for a trip.
The first step when using a mind map to pack is to figure out how many bottoms (pairs of pants or skirts) you are taking, keeping in mind that you only need one “bottom” for every two or three days you will be traveling. Next figure out tops you will mix and match with the bottoms to create as many outfits as you need for each activity you will participate in while you are away. Finally, identify a pair of shoes for each of the outfits, keeping in mind you are not going to have room for ten pairs of shoes. On a recent twelve day trip, which I used the above mind map to pack for, I ended up packing four pairs of shoes and wearing one.
The right half of the above mind map details the various outfits that can be made with the five bottoms that I took, while the left half details the other items that were packed, such as pjs, underwear, exercise clothing, a rain jacket and the dress clothes required for business dinners.
For me, using a mind map and visualizing what I will have with me, results in me packing significantly less for trips. Using a mind map in conjunction with a travel grid, results in me engaging in significantly less “what if” type packing (where one makes sure they are prepared for most if not all eventualities) and therefore significantly lightens my travel load. In fact, I was able to pack comfortably for this mind map’s trip in one 21″ carry-on suitcase.
One other factor that results in my packing less is picking a color theme for a trip. For example, for some trips, I build my wardrobe around brown shoes and earthy colors, while for this trip, my primary colors were shades of purple, raspberry, black & white, which I paired with black and metallic shoes. Because I stuck with one basic color palette, I was able to wear the same accessories again and again with different outfits and because everything matched so well, I was able to create a significant number of outfits with not that many pieces of clothing.
I’d love to hear what techniques you use to pack light.