Why Do We Have Too Much Stuff In Our Travel Bags And How To Deal With It.
The quandary of prioritising what to pack is as old as the art of travelling itself. Whether you are a “once in a blue moon” or frequent traveller, we are all susceptible to packing too much. LeanPac® as an organisation have mulled over the root cause to over-packing for a while. The lean team can claim almost a century of combined travelling experience and still profess to occasions of over-packing. Our research, investigation and discourse indicate that the reasons for over-packing may not be as simple as not being ace at packing. It is all in the mind, we say. Here is our take on the 3 psychological root causes
1) “Just In Case” Packing
A travelsupermarket.com research confirms that women over-pack more often than men. They also pack a week in advance as oppose to men, who tend to leave it until the last minute (which in itself can cause over packing), but still end up buying necessities on arrival.
The lean team have concluded that this particular root cause for over packing may be similar to women’s handbag theory. Women use bags and men mostly use pockets. This day-to-day use of bags may have helped women honed in their packing skills making them arguably more advanced packers.
Just in case packing means we have everything required for all eventualities and a testament to women’s ability to plan and risk assess. But in the case of travel packing, bringing wet weather gear and sweaters even when going on a sunny break… just in case.
So, how do we deal with worst-case scenario packers? The purpose and activities of the trip dictates packing choices. The less we know about the destination and what it has to offer, the more “spur of the moment” mode we put ourselves in, the more we will tend to over-pack. Hence, the best prevention and management action to overcome this root cause is research, planning and decision-making.
We tend to have mental packing shelves categorised into 1) must have 2) good-to-have 3) luxuries 4) can buy there and 5) just in case. The less that is known about the destination, the more we put into the just in case shelf.
2) Wheeled Bags Gives A False Sense of Weightlessness
The disconnection between the moment of packing and the reality in motion regarding actual travelling from one point to another is another root cause for over-packing. The false sense of weightlessness wheels offer causes you to lightly disregard weight of items as you fill your bags to capacity. The bigger the bag the more you fill as weight has no bearing at that moment.
This is not a problem, while packing in our cosy homes, when in our minds, travelling is mostly when we are at modern airports and stations where surfaces are smooth and all escalators are working. But in reality, more often than we care to remember, we are navigating outside ideal travel situation where there are plenty of stairs to traverse, sandy terrains, cobble stones, high curbs and bad tarmac or wet pavements to negotiate.
The impacts of our choices only become apparent when the wheels don’t live up to the weightlessness it promises.
Being able and prepared to carry the weight of your packing throughout your journey “rain or shine” will induce more contemplated packing. It will help you be decisive on which of the 5 mental shelves (see first root cause) your items belong in. It will help you say no, when you come across an item that you “just feel better to know it’s there”.
Enjoy every kilo/pounds of weight you cleverly decide to carry with you. Say no to wheels, if you are able bodied, as the little up-front joy may not be worth paying back for, for the rest of your journey or for making bad packing decisions.
3) Packing Smart Takes Time & Effort Upfront
Unlike most experienced travellers who advocate packing light for the sake of it, the LeanPac®philosophy says pack smart to make space for everything you need without compromising on your quality of travels or “luxuries”, as long as all that is packed is needed and used.
As explored in the previous point, in the comfort of your home prior to the journey, the time and effort of planning what goes inside a bag is greater than simply throwing in whatever you feel is necessary, plus some just in case items.
It is only when you are into the trip that the impacts of that convenience become apparent. Because planning is exactly what it says on the tin “investing time and effort upfront to reduce unnecessary time and effort down the line”.
In order to pack smart, you will need to plan i.e. make a schedule and a list. Procrastinators and “off the cuff” people will all be breaking into a rash and throwing their arms up in protest right now. But stay with it, because it works.
Create a visual daily schedule in the form of a matrix. Check the weather, and note all places and activities. Purge all info and pencil them into your daily schedule. The more detailed and informed the better (see point 1), but a start is a start. Note the pencil as it means allowing flexibility in the programme.
Things that are important at home are deprioritised once you land in St Tropez, San Francisco or Saigon. Much of that we pack for the just in cases are often unused.
Should you be packing the yoga mats or gym clothes? Check your plan & programme; will you realistically have the time? A yes answer will facilitate you to bring items that you will use while a no will aid in calculated decisions to minimise your “just in case” pile.
LeanPac® promotes modular packing through a range of unisex travelling bags. The suite consist of JamPac®,a no-wheels hybrid backpack holdall, HangPac, a very large hybrid toiletry overnight bag, OrgPac, large packing cubes in the sizes of medium (MOrg) & slim (SOrg), and the VacPac, a wet/dry bag vacuum bag. This family of bags have been specifically designed to help make lean and efficient travellers allowing them to pack smart and get to what they need when they need it.