Do you pack this way?

I have to admit that I initially misread the title of this post as The Pathology of Packing. I read it that way several times, as though someone was performing a postmortem on my behavior and checking to see what I did wrong in my efforts.

Prince Akeem is a man who knew how to pack!


And I’m not so sure that the Psychology of Packing is actually all that different a view. I mean, we’re still talking about taking a look inside my brain to figure out how and why I packed what I did for a trip. Sometimes it is just being absentminded, like when I packed a pair of sneakers for a winter journey to snowy eastern Europe. Suffice it to say that I bought new shoes in Bratislava and tossed my sneakers away on that trip. Other times it is the joy of figuring out how to plan for a 20+ day trip covering multiple different professional and personal events in a single, small bag (yes, do laundry along the way, but is that enough to make it work?!?). Or the various trips I’ve taken with just my briefcase holding a spare outfit and the experiences I’ve had with immigration officers as a result.

I do agree that skipping wheels is the way to go whenever possible. Wheels are great if you only head from the airport to the hotel and back in a taxi or car service. But that’s really not my travel style at all.

For us, wheels represent tethered travel: the body is present, but the mind remains elsewhere.

I’m less convinced about leaving 10% of the bag empty to bring home souvenirs. I’m a bit more of a “one in, one out” policy type of guy these days. I do find that I’ll typically fill whatever bag size I choose from a trip, regardless of what I actually need. That’s usually a bit depressing when I walk out the door.

In the end my packing is often far more haphazard than it should be. A few shirts and a couple pairs of pants. Always a bathing suit. And hopefully things match well enough when I get to the next stop. If not, I can always trade something out for new duds while I’m there.

So, do you have a plan for packing? Better than mine??

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I have a excel spreadsheet that I maintain of things I need to pack for a trip. I haven’t had to edit it in years, and I don’t necessarily bring everything for each trip. But it means I don’t leave things behind that I know I’ll need. I also agree that I tend to fill the bag for a trip. So now I have a few options for bag size so I don’t go overboard.

  2. From one of the Travel Girls facebook page, I’ve learned that my travel wardrobe was WAY too big, way too many colors, way too many options…. now, for a week-long cruise, I take a wheeled carryon. 3 black bottoms, 4 patterned tops, scarves to accessorize, 1 pair of cute shoes, 1 pair of comfy walking shoes, rain jacket, undies and essentials. Boom. Done. Everything matches, interchanges, and is easy to dress with fewer choices knowing I feel good and look presentable. And I include a nylon duffle inside to haul off dirty clothes and leave room in the wheeled carryon for any delicate souveniers I might buy. Laundry can always be done. Less is better for me, personally.

  3. Similar to DebbieT but I usually decide on a neutral color scheme for pants and I bring 3 of them. Ex: decide on black and blue (or brown and khaki/olive) and bring 3 bottoms in those colors and tops that could match each. I also find that I pack a white top because it matches everything. And I only pack cute shoes if they are comfortable; I have improved my skill at shopping for both so that has become easier to achieve. In addition, I pack bubble wrap on occasion for souvenirs.

    One carry-on and one personal bag – period. The purse goes in the personal bag if the purse is not the personal bag.

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