Like most girls, I have an overwhelming amount of clothes. What became even more overwhelming was when I tried to take most of these clothes on trips with me. I believe this stemmed from an overriding fear that I would somehow forget something essential like the pair of sandals I wear everyday or a watch I like to accessorize with. In the fear that I would forget one thing, I would pack everything so I knew I had covered all of my bases. This resulted in access luggage bags, unworn clothes, and a tangled unsorted mess by the end of each journey.

This summer, I decided to set a new resolution: I would take fewer clothes than I had ever traveled with even though I was going to be living abroad for ten weeks (longer than I have ever traveled before). I started studying what well-traveled individuals had to share about traveling in style. I wanted to shrink the size of my suitcase without loosing my ability to dress fashionable. (I mean, I’m heading to Europe…that is reason enough for desiring that my fashion game be at it’s strongest.) The idea that I would have to settle for the same pair of jeans and alternating identical teeshirts for the entire summer was not optional or appealing.

I had one thing in my favor as I began to pull out various items from my overstuffed closet: I was going to be traveling in the warm weather months which meant I would pack warm weather clothes which generally weighed less and took up less space. I also began to notice that the items in my closet that I gravitated toward the most all consisted of neutral colors. What if I limited my packing to only neutrals which would give me greater variety in possible outfits because everything ultimately went together?

I laid out everything I planned to bring a couple of days in advance so I had some time to look over and slowly eliminate as time passed. I read in a lifestyle article on travel that everyone tends to pack over 50% more than they actually need for a trip. My goal was to get rid of this extra 50% before I left so I would not come to the realization that half of my suitcase was unnecessary after I was already abroad.

By the time I packed my suitcase for the final time, every article rolled up nicely into one suitcase and I allowed myself one small backpack for my laptop, camera, world map, polaroid, and sketchbook. I am now over a week into my stay in Europe and have not missed anything from my exhaustive closet that I left behind. Not once has my fashion creativity felt restricted but I also do not have to experience being weighted down by too many personal items that inhibit my ability to travel easily. (To not be limited in public transportation throughout Europe I would definitely advise only one suitcase under the weight of 20 kg or 44 lb.)

Maybe packing for travel is easy for the average girl or maybe it isn’t. For me, it has always been a struggle so it feels so freeing to admit that I have finally gained this skill and can look forward to packing a smarter way for future adventures on the horizon!

Meghan Mathews