Don’t panic over the size of your luggage, over-packing is a sign of intelligence (perhaps)

24 January 2020

As several long weekend escapes stretch out before us, Jessica-Belle Greer says it’s time to embrace over-packing with open arms.

There’s no better feeling than getting ready to leave your mundane day-to-day for a holiday, until it’s followed hard and fast by the realisation that you don’t want to leave anything behind by accident – at least that’s the case for me.

I have been an over-packer since school camp, but it’s something that’s taken a long time to accept. Between hiding extra outerwear in any spare spot I could find in my companion’s suitcases to setting in motion serious spinal issues while pretending an over-the-shoulder bag isn’t breaking my back, I’ve been in denial for over a decade. A turning point was when I begged my boyfriend to help me sneak a rubber tree almost as tall as me onto the overhead compartments on a domestic flight. (It was for a friend’s house warming, but still.)

I apologise for taking an unnecessary amount of luggage with me at the drop of my straw hat, my hands full of other packing paraphernalia – my pillow, a well-thumbed summer read and precariously perched sunglasses. I unpack immediately on arrival to try and spread my belongings (and my burden) into more manageable looking lots, and tuck my offending sack out of sight under the bed. Don’t get me started on the dread of having to drag it all back when the vacation draws to a close and I relieve the over-stuffed chest of drawers…


But I carry on. I’ve even let some hosts assume I’m heading off to another destination in order to over-compensate for the hefty four-wheeler rolling down the hill for a four-day sojourn by the seaside. For those who think summer vacations require less baggage thanks to the season’s lightweight essentials, have you ever run out of sunblock or run into a tropical storm without any wet weather gear on-hand on an isolated island? I haven’t. I’m prepared.

Let’s unpack that. Psychologists posture that over-packing is a sign of wanting to feel safe, to take some of your home comforts with you. For me, over-packing is synonymous with over-thinking. What if your diaphanous sundress packed especially for a special event rips in two and you don’t have a back-up slip or a mending kit to patch your evening back together? That wouldn’t be very smart. Perhaps over-packers are just more intelligent than those who don’t think or travel outside of the box?

I used to spend intermittent hours listing what I should pack, working out various versatile outfit combinations for maximum wear, while transplanting my skincare regime into tiny tubs but I was still always reaching for an embarrassingly bigger bag. I saw it as a sign of incompetence to not be able to compartmentalise my life into luggage, but I will succumb to this no more. Instead, I accept it simply as another creative pursuit.

Now I have fully embraced that I am an over-packer, and always will be, a weight has lifted off my shoulders. I throw whatever I wish into my bag without a care in the world. It feels as good as the holiday.

So, how do you fit it all in? Shop our gallery of travel essentials below:

NB: This isn’t an excuse for having more stuff – living more sustainably is important for all of us, but if you’re relocating what you already own, could it count as extending the use?

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