Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a first-timer, a procrasti-packer or a no-nonsense nomad, we all have things we could improve on when it comes to travel prep. Maybe you lay out all your outfits ahead of time, but only end up wearing the same three on rotation. Maybe you always forget an essential. Or maybe you always get slammed with an overweight baggage fee, no matter how well you thought you packed.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to travel more (and whose wasn’t?), here are eight packing resolutions to make along the way. As for keeping them? Well, it’s a traveler’s prerogative to change their mind.
Resolution #1: I will not bring my entire makeup collection
“But what if we get invited to an impromptu glitter-themed soiree? Or a full moon party that necessitates a palette of neon face paint?” Cut to three pounds of cosmetic carnage spilling onto your clothes.”What ifs” are an over-packer’s MO, so limit yourself to a reasonably sized toiletry bag—and don’t let yourself fall into the trap of adding a Ziploc of unnecessary palettes for good measure.
Resolution #2: I will only pack two pairs of shoes this time
Hands up if you’ve found yourself wearing a not-so-conducive-to-airport-sprinting pair of shoes on a plane because you couldn’t fit them into a bag, only to leave them unworn in your hotel room for the duration of the trip. You’re not alone—74 percent of Americans pack two to three pairs of shoes for a vacation, and that often means your workout shoes or going-out heels are left untouched in favor of more universal soles.
Resolution #3: I will not procrasti-pack
Or, “I will not save everything until the night before when I have a 6 a.m. flight and am also notorious for packing a bag of Ferrero Rochers, three hats and a mini skateboard, but no toothbrush.”
Resolution #4: I will know exactly where my passport/tickets are at all times
They always seem to be right in front of you in the check-in line — those travelers who just seem to have it all figured out. Their essential documents are neatly filed in the order they need them, and their passport is basically an extension of their arm. You? Well, let’s just say you’ve done your fair share of panicked digging to find a hotel address in the depths of your backpack, or dumped out the contents of your carry-on in front of a service agent, wailing “I know it’s in here somewhere!” If it’s a resolution of yours to never get that sinking where’s-my-passport feeling again, we’re with you.
Resolution #5: I will make sure my luggage is under the weight limit (and save a little extra room for souvenirs)
If you’re having a deja-vu of heaving a giant suitcase onto a luggage scale and watching the screen dance between points of a pound, you’re not alone—58 percent of Americans say they never weigh their luggage before heading to the airport. If you are prone to overweight fees, try opting for a carry-on with wheels and loading it up with the heavier stuff, like electronics, shoes and books.
Resolution #6: I will dare to go checked bag free
Bloggers make it look so easy, don’t they? International getaways with no more than a monogrammed duffel in tow, meaning no hoisting suitcases the size of a photocopier into the back of a cab (and no precious travel time wasted loitering in baggage claim). But your less-is-more resolution isn’t as hassle-free as it looks. Packing expert or not, squeezing your vacation’s clothing quota into a carry-on is no small feat, no matter how long the trip. And who hasn’t spent half an hour trying to close a zipper before a flight home, wondering how on earth we managed to cram this much stuff in to begin with? If you can pull this one off in 2016, hats (worn onto the plane, of course) off to you.
Resolution #7: I will actually wear everything I pack
Fifty-five percent of Americans surveyed said they didn’t wear everything they packed (guilty), and for chronic over-packers, that means hauling around unnecessary weight for no sartorial payoff. Sure, we like to have options while traveling, but laying out outfits beforehand to make sure there aren’t any pieces that don’t go with anything can help weed out those straggler pieces that take up a lot of room, but don’t end up worn (hello, fur vest!). And remember, if you don’t wear it at home, you probably won’t wear it on vacation.
Resolution #8: I will roll instead of fold.
It starts off easy—neat little t-shirt tubes lined up in the bottom of your suitcase. But then come the pants. And the sweaters. And how on earth does one roll a Macbook?! While it seems like everyone and their mother (especially their mother) swears by the rolling method, only 30 percent of Americans actually roll their clothes. If you know your rolling resolution won’t last, try compartmentalizing instead—use packing cubes to stay organized and save space. Or you could try the bundling method.
Main image: istock.com/LaraBelova