What I packed & what I shouldn’t have brought

Brianna Krueger's picture

What I packed & what I shouldn’t have brought: one girl’s struggle with over packing and condensing.

When I find out I’m going on vacation, my first thought (aside from being excited that I’m going somewhere) is ‘oh shit. How am I going to pack?

I am a compulsive over-packer, and knowing this does not make packing any easier. If I could bring my entire room & wardrobe, I totally would. I don’t want to be an outfit repeater and I never know what I’m going to want to wear, so I want options. Unfortunately, that means I want every single possible option so I end up with a 75 pound bag. Which, if you travel, you know the weight limit is 50 pounds international, and that having a suitcase already costs at least $25 to have - so paying more for the extra weight is oh so unappealing. That brings me to my next step: condensing.

For my most recent trip to Mexico, I had to do quite the downsize. For being away eight days, I was packing like I’d be gone 2 months. A t-shirt for every day of the week, a cute going out outfit for every night of the week, a bathing suit for every day of the week, shorts for every day of the week, shoes for every day of the week. Are you catching the drift that I packed for every scenario possible for every day of the week? Like I said, I like my options.

Packing - before


(But if you think I’m bad, you have no idea. On our way home, going through customs in Minneapolis, a lady behind us asked how long we’d been away. We told her a week. Her face looked shocked, her eyes bugging out, as she told us she would have guessed a month.

That is because between my parents and I, we had 4 suitcases and 6 carry-on bags & purses. Of those four suitcases, two were for my dad, and one of those was for shoes alone. (And females get the rap for shoe compulsion?) And of those six carry-on items, only a purse and one bag belonged to me, and one purse to my mom, meaning my dad had 3 carry-on items, plus those 2 suit cases. So really I’m not that bad, and at least I know where I get it: I get it from my dad.)

So from my collection of desired things to bring, I had to cut half, if not more. (How else was I going to squeeze in souvenirs?) (And no way could we afford to bring more when my dad had the same amount of stuff as my mom and I combined.)

Knowing that most my time would be spent pool or ocean side, I reasoned with myself that bikinis were important, so I nicked myself down to 4 tops & bottoms that I could mix and match. Also knowing that, and knowing that Mexico is warm, I knocked out bringing all my adorable blazers & sweaters and opted for just one, on the off-chance it got cold at night.

What I packed - and what I shouldn't have brought.  Still needs condensing...

Still needs condensing...

Each clothing item that I put back in my closet, I kept telling myself ‘you’ll be at the pool and won’t need this.’ It didn’t make it any less heartbreaking, especially when I had to put back some of my high heels. Telling my mom I would wear them poolside if I had to led to her stealing them and hiding them from me. That’s one way to condense…

Finally I was at my minimal stance, which was still considered over-packed to my mom (or underpacked, compared to my dad). But I had cut my luggage in half with plenty of room for souvenirs, so I was happy.

What I brought for a week in Mexico:

- 4 bathing suits
- 1 blazer
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of pants
- 4 t-shirts
- 2 cover-ups
- 5 dressy shirts
- 3 skirts (that could pass as pool cover-ups or could go out on town in – I had to rationalize why I was still bringing some things)
- 4 shoes (Sneakers, sandals, one pair of heels, and cute flats)
- 1 purse
- 2 sets of workout clothes
- 1 jean jacket (This was the final item added. When you pack a week in advance with all your clothing just sitting there, staring at you, it’s easy to be convinced to add ‘just one more’ item to your luggage. My clothes were damn good convincers, or maybe they took advantage of my fragile over-packing state…)

All packed with room to spare!

All packed with room to spare!

Clearly, I’m not very good at condensing. But I made it my goal to document what I packed and what I shouldn’t have brought, just to prove that my over-packing wasn’t so far-fetched.


What I shouldn’t have brought:

- The jean jacket (My friends said it didn’t match any of my outfits, and prior to vacation I told them to not let me out of the room in any bad outfits, as I tend to be a walking fashion disaster. You know that girl that you think dressed in the dark? That’s me.)
- The skirts (While they were worn down the pool, they weren’t really needed. Especially since I hadn’t thought to match them to any of my tops… Oops.)
- My heels & flats (My flats not by choice, but because they’re new and needed heel liners, and the heels unfortunately just never got the chance, not even beach-side.)
- The blazer (I didn’t think to match to any of my clothes, seeing as it was a yellow blazer. Note to self, and to you, color coordinate what you’re packing.)

Out of all my over-packing, almost everything was used, and I have learned absolutely nothing (minus learning to match my colors better, but if I can’t do that at home, I doubt I can do that on vacation). Plus if I can get away with using 90% of everything I packed, then I did my job and my justifications of why I brought things stand still.

Over-packing is genetic, not easy, and sometimes (most times) worth it. All for having those options.




Brianna Krueger is the Chief Editor of Wandering Educators