9 Packing Tips to Simplify Your Travels

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Over-packing for a business trip or vacation might provide psychological security, but traveling the world with its weight on our shoulders often hampers exploration and burdens us with choices. A growing body of research says Americans are happier and more confident when making fewer decisions. One study gave students a series of puzzles to solve. Before the solving, they offered one group a choice between caffeinated or chamomile tea. To the other, they simply gave them one of the teas at random. The group that didn’t make a decision solved more puzzles than the other group.

Zen-like simplicity in wardrobe planning—embraced by business leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs—can make a journey relaxed and efficient, boosting productivity and freeing mental energy for more important decisions.

Related: What I Learned From Wearing the Same Outfit for 2 Weeks

Travel light with capsule packing, tucking away a few versatile carry-on items that can be layered, mixed and matched. Allow yourself the space for bring-backs and serendipitous finds along the way. Get started with the tips below.

  • Select solid colors by palette so all pieces are easily combined.
  • Use messenger bags or purses as makeshift toiletry cases.
  • An oversize sweater can be repurposed into a belted sweater dress with leggings—another key item, which can be worn with skirts, dresses or as workout clothing.
  • Jackets with zip-off hoods and collars are ideal for rainy days and as smart casual wear.
  • A lady’s scarf transforms into a belt, top or headband.
  • Expecting warm weather?
    • Women: Take a long tube skirt that doubles as a top or dress, or a multipurpose sarong, which works as a wrap.
    • Men: Board shorts can be worn as swimwear or to the gym.
  • A dual-use button-down shirt becomes a beachy cover-up when it’s breezy but not cold enough for a jacket.
  • Wear a T-shirt on its own or as an undershirt beneath a button-down.
  • Shoes should be adaptable—from casual to dressy, with or without socks: loafers for men, ballet flats for women.

Related: 10 Must-Have Apps to Streamline Your Life


This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

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Shana Ting Lipton is a Los Angeles- and London-based freelance writer and expert world traveler.

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