Alannah has a serious case of itchy feet and incurable wanderlust! Originally from Canada, Alannah went on her first international trip at the age of fifteen to Paris France. Since then, her passion for travel and adventure has continued to grow. She has currently been to over 30 countries and lived in 3. She writes a travel blog where she shares her adventures and tips for travelling solo and travelling on a budget. www.itchyfeetravel.com
Hello, my name’s Alannah and I’m an over-packer. It’s been 3 years since the last time I over-packed. Thankfully, this is a problem of the past for me. It took some negative experiences for me to change my packing habits. Several instances of suitcase rage. So what are the many advantages of packing light? Why is it better to not haul a ton of stuff that you don’t need around the world?
I want to share my bad packing experiences with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes. These are 11 times I regretted over-packing. They are situations that anyone could easily run into while traveling. I am sharing them with you in the hope that you will mend your over-packing ways and realize that sometimes, less is more.
1.When you think you have around 20 lbs and the scale at the airport disagrees
You’re certain your suitcase is underweight. But, a few more pounds are added to your suitcases on the way to the car. You find that sweater you thought you had already packed. You grab a pair of running shoes that haven’t been used in over a year. You add a magazine because what if the three you already packed are not enough. Throw in that winter coat in the back of your car. You never know there could be a freak snow storm.
You arrive at the airport check-in. A feeling of dread fills you as you lift your suitcase onto the scale. You stare at the red numbers that flash up. Heart pumping faster you pray that it will be under the weight limit. It’s not.
2. When that extra couple of pounds ends up costing you a lot more than it’s worth
Your prayers go unheard and your suitcase is over the weight limit. This is not a good way to start a trip. You have not even checked into the airport and you are already faced with an extra cost. Airlines are often strict when it comes to their baggage policies. Even a couple extra pounds can have you reaching for your wallet.
Advantages of packing light: No extra changes for luggage at the airport.
3. When you buy stuff that ends up putting you over the weight limit
A trinket here, a gift there. You don’t realize how much crap you’ve actually bought. That is, until you’re desperately trying to shove it all into your suitcase before your flight. If you manage to be underweight when you leave, but only by a little, you might not be so lucky on your way back home. Anything you buy on your trip will add weight to your suitcase.
You need to consider how much you plan to buy when you’re packing. Otherwise, you’ll end up at the airport having to quickly decide what you are going to have to sacrifice and leave behind. Or pay the surcharge for the extra weight.
Advantages of packing light: You can buy extra stuff when you travel without having to worry about going over your weight limit.
4. When the underground station does not have a lift
Stairs are an over packer’s worse nightmare. Sometimes the technology we rely on to make our life easier either does not exist or is not working. I have been to underground stations where there is no working lift. The only option was to drag my suitcase up the staircase one step at a time. This is particularly difficult when there are a lot of people. And particularly stressful if you are in a rush.
The more stuff you packed, the heavier your suitcase. A couple flights of stairs quickly turns into an intense workout.
5. When the handle or wheel on your suitcase decides to break
Both of these things have happened to me on separate occasions. I am cursed when it come to suitcases. They always seem to break on me at the worse time. It’s hard enough to haul around a big-ass suitcase without some part of it breaking and making it even harder to pull. This will lead to a fit of suitcase rage in most cases.
Advantages of packing light: If something does break, your suitcase will weight a lot less and be easier to transport.
6. When you’re trying to get on crowded public transport
Need to take public transport to get to the airport, back home, or to your accommodation? Then you face the struggle of trying to drag your suitcase into underground stations, trains, and buses. This becomes more frustrating when public transport is packed. Everyone is giving you dirty looks as you try to cram yourself and your suitcase into what little space is available. You mumble apologies to people and curses at your suitcase as you try not to run over people’s feet.
Once you’ve manage to cram yourself into the transport prepare for more dirty looks. People try to climb over and push past your suitcase, to get in and out. You are unable to move the suitcase because there is no free space to move it to. So you just stand there mumbling more apologies while shooting a death stare at your suitcase.
7. When you’re trying to walk down the streets of a crowded city
Trying to drag around a big suitcase in and around a lot of people is inconvenient and uncomfortable for them and for you. This happened to me in Hong Kong. I was trying to navigate myself through the packed streets to find my accommodation.
Ermm sorry that my hug luggage is taking up 80% of this tiny sidewalk. I really NEED this stuff!
8. When your accommodation is at the top of a hill
This happened to me in Monaco. I was already tired from travelling and wandering around for almost half an hour trying to find the hotel. I was trying to save on money and therefore didn’t want to get a taxi. Turns out my accommodation was on top of a huge hill (or at least it felt huge at the time). I was cursing my luggage the whole way up that hill. By the time I arrived at my accommodation I was grumpy, sweaty, out of breath, and ready to murder my suitcase.
9. No elevator or broken elevator
So you’ve finally managed to haul all your crap to your accommodation. You’re probably feeling like the worse is over. Not so fast. It sometimes happens that your room is on the top floor of a building. The elevator is either broken or non-existent. And the only way to get your stuff to your room is to carry it up flight after flight of stairs. This happened to me when I went to visit a friend in Vienna. She lived on the top floor that could only be reached by climbing a winding staircase.
As your huffing and puffing up the fifth flight of stairs, dragging an overstuffed suitcase, you’ll be wishing you hadn’t packed that 10th pair of pants.
10. Pulling out everything from your suitcase to find something then having to put it all back in
The bigger your suitcase is the more stuff you’ve probably crammed into it. Having to pull all the contents out and then stuff them back in time and time again can get real old real fast.
Advantages of packing light: It’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
Keeping your suitcase organised will help you find things quicker. Packing cubes are a great way to keep your suitcase organised.
11. When you’re at the end of your trip and realize you haven’t worn half the stuff you brought with you
For me, the worst part, after having to endure all these other things, is realizing once the trip is over that half the stuff I had dragged across the world I didn’t even use. Packing light has always been a challenge for me, but after personally going through all the above during years of travel I decided something had to change.
When you’re packing for a trip, you really need to think about everything you put in your luggage. Is it something that you really need and are actually going to use?
Advantages of Packing Light
So, have I convinced you of the advantages of packing light? Will you come over to the light packing side? If you are thinking to yourself, great I want to pack light but how do I do it? I got your back! Check out my article Packing Light: Travel Tips To Make You Be A Better Packer.
Have you had a bad experience from over packing? Have tips that you use to help pack light? What do you think are the advantages of packing light? Let me know in the comments!
Happy packing and happy travels!
Alannah McEwan @ Itchy Feet Travel