I want to be honest with you today: My name is Laura, and I am an overpacker.
I never thought I would say those words in print. But there — I did it. It feels good.
Here’s the thing: I used to be a good packer. Back in my twenties, I had a tiny Samsonite wheelie that I never checked. I was one of those cocky travelers who wheeled her petite bag on the plane. No baggage carousel for me.
Then something happened: I went on a crazy trip on the Oregon Trail in June. And it snowed. In June! I’d brought cute warm-weather dresses and sandals. I felt like a member of the Donner party, hungry for cashmere. What kind of shopping do you find on the Oregon Trail? How about …
So I skipped the bonnets, layered on the sweats, and vowed never to be a packing loser again.
It started slowly: a couple of extra sweaters. A bathing suit, just in case I stumbled across a pool or a hot tub. An extra pair of sunglasses — who wants to replace lost sunglasses on the road? Extra flats, extra heels. Options! The next thing you knew, I was checking my bag. A big bag. A very big bag.
I still wince when I think back on a trip to India, with a porter in the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station in Mumbai carrying my big bag — on his head. Or the trip to Thailand, when my very big bag almost sunk a little dugout canoe leaving Ko Phi Phi. Or the safari in Kenya, when I was good and stuck to the max — 27 pounds. Only I didn’t leave room for purchases along the way.
I’m trying to get better. I got Tumi’s amazing Alpha2 carry-on a few months ago that keeps me somewhat honest (particularly important in the era of #CarryOnShame). Though I will admit, it has a zipper that allows the bag to expand. I try really hard not to cheat at the beginning of a trip.
Related: The Luggage Police are Watching
So I’ve got a new method: since hindsight is 20/20, I carefully police what I’ve brought — and what I actually used — on a trip. And then I try to replicate this on my next trip.
Take a look at this recent packing list for the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort Costa Rica:
This is what I actually wore at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort Costa Rica. (Photo: Laura Begley Bloom)
2 tanks (one white, one black)
1 pair white cropped J.Crew pants
1 white button-down Patagonia shirt with SPF-50 and wicking
1 pair gray Clothing Arts pants with wicking
2 bathing suit coverups that I bought in Cambodia
1 Calvin Klein bathing suit
1 Gap pajamas
1 pair Havaianas flip-flops
1 pair Merrell hybrid mary-jane sneakers
1 pair dress sandals
1 pair casual sandals
The rejects. (Photo: Laura Begley Bloom)
And here’s what I didn’t use:
1 lace Rebecca Taylor top
1 dressy kaftan top by Milly
1 pair white J.Crew shorts
1 black Michael Kors kaftan top
1 silk Joie top
1 brown Gap T-shirt
1 white Patagonia T-shirt
Not so bad. But clearly, there’s still work to be done. Some day, I’ll be that perfect packer again, with my one little streamlined bag — everything put to use, no options.
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