I have yet to pack for my vacation as I write this. And since there will be no time for said packing when I get home (I have a very busy schedule of procrastinating planned, if you must know), and since airport traffic is a nightmare around holiday weekends, I already know I’m going to have to get up around 5 a.m. tomorrow to pack and stay on schedule.
I am a terrible packer. I have written about this before. Not only do I overpack, I panic-pack, which means that in the span of five minutes, my room goes from tidy sanctuary to whatever it would look like if you got me hopped up on Red Bull, handed me one of those sporting event T-shirt blasters and told me to make it rain.
Clothing confetti, everywhere.
In order to avoid this potential nightmare and, far worse, the thought of missing my flight because I couldn’t get my act together (how many summer sweaters do I pack?), I combed through some of Man Repeller’s best packing stories and made myself a series of reminders. Hopefully they help you too, and if they don’t, I guess remember that when in doubt, you can just wear your bathrobe around and call it day.
Reminder: When in doubt, ONE PAIR OF SHOES is probably all you need.
If Wanyi Jiang, Marie Claire’s Design Director, can wear the same pair of espadrilles for five days with five different outfits, then I think I can handle the same commitment for the very few requirements I have lined up that actually require shoes.
Repeat after me: Only pack the things you know and love and trust.
Per Leandra: “I am a fickle woman who wants to experience the entire range of human emotions, so it’s hard to say what I will want to wear in the future based on what I want to wear right now. Such a profound problem, right? Someone at Harvard should be working on this case study. But I digress — you have to be meticulous. [You have to] pack the right kinds of things and to know yourself well enough to know you’re a volatile battery who sometimes, even after spending a full night in the charger, wakes up at 30%. The easiest way to do this is to pull from the foolproof items in your wardrobe — the reliable silhouettes that make you feel great no matter when or why you wear them.”
K, so now is not the time to get weird and experimental with that one chiffon thing in my closet that I’ve never figured out before, is what you’re telling me…
Breathe: Just because some people are carry-on queens doesn’t mean you have to be.
Per master-packer Leandra, again: “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who pack and those who free-ball. That is, those who pack few to none of their belongings before setting sail. The irony of those who free-ball is that in spite of what seems like spontaneity — a sort of laissez-faire attitude that enables the free-baller to seamlessly transport himself from point A to point B — this traveler is meticulous. Calculated. Planned. I know this because I have taken to heart advice my dad once gave me — that stuff ruins trips — and turned it into a life goal I consistently try to re-achieve. No matter the destination, the time span for which I will be away and the enumerable and profound Instagram opportunities that might be presented, I take a carry-on.”
I probably won’t follow this rule but I really enjoyed clicking through this story’s slideshow for outfit ideas.
Simplify: Thinking in monochrome means a far more focused edit while packing.
Per Natasha Nyanin on her travel aesthetic during a work trip to Costa Rica. “I am living what I like to call my ‘Year of Yellow… I don’t have a huge wardrobe, in fact, most of it’s in storage as I make a transition from my life as a Centers for Disease Control Scientist in Atlanta to a What-Exactly-Am-I? in New York. So I re-wear my clothes with pride, and am not married to what an item is advertised to be.”
She’s an over-packer, like me, so her anecdotes were cathartic to read. But also, her daily style is far more glamorous than mine, so if she can pare it down with the help of a streamlined color palette, so can I.
Great packers borrow: I’m going to use this packing list, verbatim.
From a sarong to just one bathing suit — yes, you heard her, one, Juliana Salazar made like mom and wrote out an itemized item of everything you could possibly need.
Shoes — two whole pairs of them! — are on the list.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, self: I have SOME tricks up my sleeve.
When I get super worked up, I remind myself that somehow, miraculously, I have actually done this before and succeeded. I once even wrote a story about how to (I know you can see the title just there) double the outfits in your suitcase with accessories.
My favorite thing from this story was turning a sunhat into a bag. This vacation coming up feels like the perfect opportunity to do just that.
If the above isn’t working: Go rogue.
Look, if the above methodical and practical tips aren’t working, might as well go fully rogue: rather than pack the things I KNOW will work — my tried and trues — maybe the key is to pack the things I’ve never had the guts to wear before, because why not? That one time Leandra packed me for a weekend, I felt like a whole new woman.
“[I]sn’t the other point of vacation — beyond relaxation, and the main part of getting dressed — to have fun?”
If all else fails: I will accept myself as the over-packer that I am.
I’m going to be tired. Maybe I’m better off taking the path of least resistance.
Per me, one year ago: “You say over-packer; I call myself a responsible inclusionist. Overweight luggage penalty fees at airlines are baked into my travel budget. My carry-ons are so loaded up that to distribute the excess fat would require a mule. Yet I am never the one who doesn’t have a top that goes with her outfit. I’m never the one who’s cold on a beach vacation when the weather has turned. If one swimsuit’s wet and still drying, I’ve got four more. You forgot one? Here, I lied: I have five.”
Feature photo by Colby Blount.