My name is Carolyn, and I’m a chronic over-packer.
Given the frenzied repacking of bags that takes place in hidden corners of airports, I know I’m not the only one, but I recently decided to take myself to task and fix the problem.
Every time I pack for a holiday, I convince myself that this time I’ll nail it. This time I’ll pack the ultimate capsule wardrobe — something a Vogue fashion editor would be proud of — but instead I end up chucking random bits and bobs into the case, as my mind is flooded with “what ifs” and “just in cases”.
“What if it’s chilly at night?” I think, and pack a cardigan. “What if I spill wine on that one?” I reason, and pack another. “Will I need something smarter than a cardigan?” I wonder, throwing in a blazer. “I’ll bring that dress in case I need something fancy,” I decide. “But it really only goes with those gold platforms,” I realise, throwing them in too.
I could attribute this to recent staycations, and lazily stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into the boot of the car, but in the glory days of air travel — pre-9/11 — I once arrived for a flight with over 40 kilos of luggage in tow, like Ireland’s answer to Mariah Carey. Clearly, over-packing is a long-held and deeply ingrained inclination.
Back then, airline staff would just laugh and roll their eyes, but as it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid having to pay for a check-in bag, it’s also become hard to justify paying an extra €50 to transport an array of clothing options a few hundred miles across Europe, only to haul them home again — unpacked, perhaps, but largely unworn, and ultimately unnecessary.
Because we all know how the holiday wardrobe plays out. We’ve been there and done that dozens of times, as we discover those essential items we fall back into, again and again, all week long. Those trousers you wore with a crop top last night that are perfect for an amble into town this morning; the skirt that works for day or for night; the metallic sandals you can wear to the beach, then slide on with a maxi dress for dinner.
As I recently discovered, packing for a week in the South of France, the solution to the hand baggage challenge is simple: versatility. If that dress only works with those platforms, leave BOTH behind. Find ways to dress things up and/or down. Invest in things you know you’ll be cool and comfortable in; leave behind those you know you won’t. Allow for a maximum of one costume change per day — we are none of us Mariah Carey. Finally, remember this golden rule: Place what you think you’ll need on the bed, then take half of it away. And — like me, when I did finally nail it — I bet you’ll still come home with half of it unworn.