How to NOT Overpack 

One of my biggest problems when backpacking Europe was how heavy my bag was. It was all because I totally overpack on my clothes! This was something I could have easily fixed, if I had known these tricks beforehand.

how to not overpack

1. Follow my “three choices” rule.

I came up with this rule before I packed, but made too many exceptions for it. The rule is: everything you pack must be able to be worn in three different ways! Don’t pack those brightly patterned shorts that match that one shirt. Instead, pack basics you can wear with several things. A t-shirt you can wear under a sweater, with your jean shorts, or dress up with a skirt is much better than bringing a tank top, a patterned shirt, and a dressy top.

2. Stick to one color family.

This is so important if you want to match and make a variety of cute outfits! An easy way to do this is to stick to brown or black (I don’t normally mix the two). That way, all my shoes were black, my purse was black, and so were my sunglasses so I always matched throughout my outfit. I could have gone even further and picked pieces that fell into the blue family or only things that were black and white, for example.

3. Choose items that are light weight.

This one should be obvious, but it’s surprisingly hard! If you’re traveling somewhere cold, don’t bring big, bulky sweaters. Instead, bring layers to add variety as well as to lighten your load. Instead of heavy jeans, opt for lightweight jeggings. (And for heaven’s sake, DO NOT bring your rain boots unless you’re wearing them every day. They’re so heavy! It never rained!)

4. Don’t pack things you don’t love.

I’m so guilty of thinking that I’d like to be the type of girl who’d wear a certain thing. But if you don’t normally wear crop tops, don’t pack three of them. Don’t pack that cute top you swear you’re going to wear even though it fits funny. You’re not going to wear them; or you’ll wear them when you run out of other clothes and you’ll be annoyed that’s what you have.

5. Be okay with wearing things more than once.

If you’re going for a long time, you should already be planning on doing laundry. If you’re not, skip bringing new things for every day. If you don’t sweat a lot or get your clothes dirty, there’s nothing wrong with a spritz of perfume or freshener to wear a shirt a second day. Dresses, rompers, and shirts I definitely believe in wearing a second day. Shorts, skirts, and jeans can be worn three times as long as they stay clean!

6. Do pack lots of underwear.

This is something you can’t skimp on. Underwear is small and light, you can pack more pairs than you think you’ll need. There is nothing worse than running out and panicking until the laundry gets done.


It’s been hard for me my whole life to pack light. I over plan and overpack chronically. If you’re like me, it can be hard to narrow it down and follow this list. Trust me, even a few tips will help! When you’re walking miles, standing in a train station for hours, or trying to move quickly, even a few pounds makes a big difference.