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  • Meagan Butler

De-High Maintenance a High Maintenance Traveler

Once upon a time, I was a high-maintenance traveler. Wait, I best re-phrase that, because those who know me are probably, as they are reading this,  snorting coffee through their noses. I am still a high-maintenance traveler, but I have learned to become a little less high maintenance the more I have traveled. It’s not always easy but anyone can de-clutter and become a less high-maintenance traveler if the rigmarole of travel packing becomes just too tedious and mentally stressful. Yep. Packing stresses me out.  

I’m the type of girl who plans for everything. I’m an obsessive list maker. I start making lists weeks ahead of my trips. I make the lists because inevitably there are things that I will need to purchase, and I make lists because packing is so painstaking laborious for me. Usually, I categorize my list by days I will be away from home, and I place a full outfit under each day I am traveling. I plan the underwear and bra, the top, the bottoms, the shoes, the belts, the jewelry and some sort of a reserve outfit in case I get tired of the one I have planned to wear. I then re-evaluate what outfits I have planned, and make changes based on the color shoes I am planning to pack. If it is winter, or I am traveling to a colder climate, boots will be a necessity. Boots are heavy, so I can’t bring as many shoes as I’d like, so I choose the cutest outfits and see which ones go more with black or brown, and then swap some more shirts out for colors that will coordinate with my boot choices. Once the outfits are planned, I start to look at the extra activities I will be doing while on vacation, and plan those outfits. Am I going to be at a pool? Yes? Then I need a suit and a cover-up, matching flip-flops, and a second suit and cover-up and flip flops. It might be sunny, so I’ll need a hat (or two). What happens if I want to workout while I travel? I need a workout outfit for each day complete with the sports bra, the headband, the shoes, and the special sunglasses if I am outside. Then comes the beauty products. These products themselves could take up a whole bag! Full-size hair volumizers, my favorite sunscreen, the bigger shampoos and toothpaste, different eyeshadows and liners for different days, a hairdryer, a round brush, a flat-iron, my teasing comb, and then all of the other lotions and creams I might need to apply in the case of dry skin and anti-aging necessities.   

AGH! Just reading this stresses me out even more!

So, here is the thing. I can’t pack like this all of the time. I can’t always bank on the fact that I can check a bag, and I can’t always be two pounds underweight because then I can’t buy one darn thing while I am at my destination. I not only annoying myself when packing, but I annoy those who have to travel with me and my and my big-ass suitcase and tedious beauty regimens.

So here are some ways I have cut back to become a less obnoxious packer:

  1. Pack in packing cubes. If it doesn’t fit, it’s not going. Everything should fit in a cube.  

  2. Choose shoes that will match almost everything. Travel in flip flops or running shoes.

  3. Layer the day of travel. The hoodie and hat are only annoying through TSA.

  4. Forget all of the excess jewelry.  

  5. Working out every day? Hardly. Pack one outfit and a change of shirt.

  6. Bring two back up shirts, not a backup shirt for every day.

  7. Wear the same pair of jeans two or three times. If they get yucky? Wash them.

  8. Get rid of the beauty products. Use the carry-on liquids rule, even when checking a bag.

  9. Minimalize the makeup. If I am going to the Caribbean I won’t be putting on makeup every day.

  10. Bring one device charger instead of three. Take turns charging things.

  11. Upload ebooks to my iPad on the Kindle app. This makes one less device to bring and one less charger to pack, and an iPad is lighter than 3 paperbound books.

  12. Do bring the things that make traveling more comfortable: eye mask, Benadryl for sleep, earbuds, Gummy bears, and a headlamp.

  13. If the zipper is too hard to close on the first day of travel, it will become harder each subsequent day. Get rid of a pair of pants or that extra work-out shirt.

  14. One pair of lightweight pajamas will suffice.

  15. Ask “WWKD?” In my case: what would Katie do? Think of a low-maintenance traveler friend you know. If they wouldn’t pack that ridiculousness then neither should I.

It is hard to become a less high-maintenance traveler. It really is. The more I travel the easier it becomes. What used to seem like life and death necessities in my travel bag really aren’t, and half of the time I don’t touch the things I packed anyway.  I treat packing like a game now. Instead of how much can I fit in my bag for 50 lbs, the new game is how much stuff can I leave at home and still be comfy on my trip?


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