Packing crisis! Tips for an over packer

Packing crisis! Tips for an over packer

I looked like a clown wearing a poncho. All that was missing from my ensemble was an oversized-sombrero and the red, clown shoes.

What was even more ridiculous was that many of the articles of “clothing” I was wearing, wasn’t clothing at all.

On my flight back from Puerto Rico, I ran into a little hiccup. I couldn’t fit all the souvenirs I bought into my backpack along with all of the clothes I packed. So I had to take extreme measures to get all my belongings home.

Hence, why I looked like a clown wearing a poncho. (Thank goodness no photos were taken that could be used as blackmail later!)

If you’ve followed all my packing tips, and yet, your stuff still doesn’t fit into your carry on or suitcase, there’s still hope! Here are a few master tricks on how to finagle your way out of the packing crisis:

1. Wear many, many layers

I often pack a tote bag of clothes that I’ll slip into once I’m at the airport. Often times security will pat you down if you have lumps or bulky areas on you. To avoid the hassle, I opt to wear fewer layers and add them after I’ve been through security.

Afterwards, I’ll add sweatshirts, jackets, the bulkiest items that will be difficult to fit into my bag. (Be prepared to get toasty!) In Puerto Rico, I got creative and wore a hammock instead of trying to stuff it into my carryon. It acted as a blanket/poncho and kept me warm on my flight.

While I’m at the airport, I’m not too concerned with what I look like. I’m mostly dressing for comfort and for sensibility. I’m always layering multiple, t-shirts and tanks to ensure that my carry on will fit in the overhead bin to avoid hefty fees. Honestly, I channel my inner 90s fashionista, who loves to layer t-shirts over long sleeves and tanks over t-shirts.

2. Get creative

Remember when I said I looked like a clown wearing a poncho? This was the end result of me getting creative. My hammock acted as a blanket/poncho and kept me warm on my flight. I see that as a win-win situation!

Maybe it’s the thrifter in me, but I’m always testing myself to see how many different ways I can wear an article of clothing. Could that skirt be layered over a dress? These are the types of questions I ask. In a pinch, I’ve worn a t-shirt as a scarf and have tucked a dress into a pair of jeans.

3. Clean out your purse

Nine times out of ten, you have junk in your purse you don’t need or use. On a recent vacation, my purse was piled high with receipts. Once I organized them neatly in an envelope and shoved that into my wallet, I had ten times the room in my little, crossbody bag. Take the time to evaluate what’s in your purse. Sometimes there are a few products you can nix and buy at home in order to make room for maps or other small trinkets you’d like to bring home.

4. Eliminate bulky packaging

This seems like a given, but it’s often a detail that is overlooked. When bringing home souvenirs, we often keep them in the bags we bought them in and toss them in between clothes in hopes that they won’t get crushed. Though that is a good idea, try eliminating excessive packaging.

For instance, a shot glass doesn’t need tissue paper, a plastic bag and clothes protecting it. Opt to wrap it in a t-shirt and nestle it between other plushy items. If you’re bringing home a cheese grater for mom, take it out of the box and wrap it in clothes. Often time I do this with food items. I’ll leave one box of chocolates in the original packaging and put the rest in a Ziploc baggy or something smaller and more compact.

5. Your last resort, toss

If all else fails, you might have to check another bag. But if that’s not an option for you, consider donating or getting rid of some of your items. Did you pack a white t-shirt that’s centuries old and is in desperate need of an upgrade? Don’t be afraid to donate it or toss it.

There are people who donates all their old clothes to the housekeeping staff who will clean her room. I find this her tactic a little insulting. Instead, I would ask at the front desk whether there was a charity nearby that would accept some donations.

The easiest thing I find to toss is toiletries. I probably don’t need six bottles of travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, so I consolidate and get rid of the rest. If you’re staying in a hostel you can pawn off your almost empties on other guests, they’ll happily accept freebies, especially if they are on a budget!


Lo and behold! Your suitcase is now able to close. I always have a rush of pride and accomplishment when this happens! (Yes, the little things matter to me.) Time for a happy dance.


Now catch your flight home and have a safe trip.

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