When Less is More…a Woman’s Guide to Packing Light

Hi, this is Mona! Typically, my role is to help Marvin pick out pictures for the blog and to serve as the final editor.  However, I’ve got a few tips that I’d like to share from the woman’s point of view. I’m going to start my sharing with a post about packing light. I hope you enjoy it.

Since approximately 2008, I don’t recall packing for a trip when Marvin didn’t say to me “I’m amazed at how you pack”. Interpret that however you’d like but in all honesty he can’t get over how much I’ve reduced the amount of clothes that I now pack. Good, right?

My packed suitcase.  It's a 21" roll on.

My packed suitcase. It’s a 21″ roll on.

In all fairness I used to need two suitcases, a carry-on bag and part of Marvin’s bag to feel like I had enough clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc. for just me. I’m not positive of the exact year when that all changed but I do believe it was a trip to Europe where we flew and then traveled by train to four different countries. For that trip we each took ONE SMALL suitcase
(21 inch) and one backpack apiece. Since we had to manage our own luggage on and off the trains, etc. we needed to ensure we traveled light.

So how did I get to this crazy reduction in packing you ask. Well, it was not without a lot of planning…and frankly, trust. Trust that I could get by without every single thing in my closet!

The biggest change I had to make was to stop packing for “just in case”. I remember thinking what if I need this or what if I might need that. Now, I just pack the basics; only what I will need not what I might need. The only exception to this is OTC medication especially when traveling abroad.

I think my biggest accomplishment for how I pack now has to do with a “mix & match” philosophy. I pack clothes in 3 basic colors, generally black, white and tan. And i generally throw in a red, blue or other color top. By having clothes that I can mix and match I have much more flexibility since, in essence, everything goes with everything. And I never pack an item if it only goes with one other thing. It has to match at least 2, if not 3, other things that I’m taking. Additionally, with 3 basic colors it helps reduce the number of shoes I pack. (Another trick I use is that I finish packing and then I go back and take out 2 tops, 2 pants/skirts, and 1 pair of shoes. And I have never regretted this tactic!)


Mix & Match Outfit 1

Mix & Match Outfit

Mix & Match Outfit 2











Mix & Match Outfit #3

Mix & Match Outfit 3

On longer trips, especially when we’re flying, as I use up something (lotion, etc.) I throw away the small bottle it was in, thus making space for any small souvenirs I might purchase. I will admit that all of the OTC medication goes in my husband’s suitcase for which I’m very grateful as that gives me a little more space for my things. 🙂

I also check the weather for our primary locations to help ensure I’m packing the right clothes and pack with layering in mind since the weather is well, the weather. Outer wear such as jackets take up a lot of room so I don’t like to take one if I can keep from it. On our last trip I wore a coat as it was cold when we left home. However I left it in the car at the airport since I knew I would not need it again until I returned from our trip.

I never pack a hair dryer, soap, shampoo or conditioner (unless I’m cruising). Any jewelry I’m taking I wear. That not only saves space but keeps me from worrying that I will lose it if if my luggage gets misplaced or worse, lost. And I never pack more than 1 “dressy” outfit. The odds of needing something very dressy is limited so I try to investigate where we’ll be and if there’s a need for something dressier. If not, then I don’t pack it for “just in case”.


Mix & Match Shorts Outfits

Mix & Match Shorts

More Mix & Match Shorts Outfits

So now you are asking how can I pack for a 3-4 week trip? Do I wear dirty clothes the last 2 weeks of my trip or do I do laundry or do I buy clothes or what? Well for a 2 week trip I can normally get by with washing underwear out in the sink. For longer trips we find a laundromat or use the hotel wash and/or dry clean service. Also, I always pack some type of wrinkle releaser. It comes in very handy!

Packed and ready for a 3 week trip!

Packed and ready for a 3 week trip!

My packing strategy is for airplane and train travel since traveling by car gives me the opportunity to take my entire closet!. I generally take advantage of that when we travel by car but I still don’t pack as much as I once did!

I hope this helps you ladies (and guys) in your packing endeavors.  I would also love to hear any tips you have for packing light.  Happy travels!


PS:  Sometimes I enjoy a little wine with my packing and sometimes I arrive with an extra item or two. Whoops!

This spatula went on a long distance trip with me! How it got in there I'll never know!

This spatula went on a long distance trip with me! How it got in there I don’t know!


6 Responses to When Less is More…a Woman’s Guide to Packing Light

  1. Sheryl February 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    I like the tip about always taking out a few things when done packing. We always take too much.

    You ended your story by saying while you pack you may have some wine and accidently end up with something extra in your case…I thought it was extra clothes…not a Splatula!!!! LOL. Did they search your suitcase at the airport when they saw that on xray.

    • MNM February 22, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

      We actually got to Palm Springs many years ago (we flew) and I had that spatula in my checked bag. Have no clue how that happened! LOL

  2. Linda Latham February 23, 2016 at 12:32 am #

    Loved your article! The scarves add so much to changing the looks of outfits .
    I always overpack. Then end up wearing my favorites anyway!

    • MNM February 23, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

      Thanks! Yep…we agree on the scarves…and favorites! 🙂

  3. Cindy Kozekiski April 8, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    Just awesome advice Mona! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely use this next time we travel. Love you saying you have to “trust” yourself AND take what you know you will need. 75% of what I take is stuff I may need. Thanks again!!

    • MNM April 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Thank you for your comments! Good luck on your next packing “adventure”.

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