Do You Make The Ultimate Packing Mistake?


Ultimate packing mistake

My mind is definitely in packing mode at the moment. Not only am I right in the middle of packing for our upcoming trip to France (we fly next Wednesday) but I’ve also been travelling extensively with my day job.

Last week, as I travelled to an interstate conference with workmates, several conversations reminded me of the ultimate packing mistake.

These particular discussions started with comments from colleagues on my very small case and ended with their confessions of overpacking. It turns out that their weighty cases were primarily due to the fact that my coworkers found it difficult to decide on what they would be wearing to the multiple conference events.

Stories emerged of ‘just in case’ cocktail dresses, ‘spare’ suits and ‘extra’ pairs of shoes.

Being unable to decide on what you are going to wear while you are away makes packing extremely difficult. It sees travellers lugging the extra weight of clothes they won’t wear and only continues the pain – eventually the ‘what will I wear’ decision has to be made.

You don’t have to do too much digging to understand that this overpacking comes from fear based thinking. The words ‘what if’ seem to feature prominently when it comes to overpacking. What if everyone else says they are wearing a frock/pants/high heels? What if I don’t fit in? What if it’s hotter/colder/wetter than I expect? What if I’m uncomfortable? What if I spill dinner down the front of my outfit? What if I feel too skinny/fat/short/tall? What if I change my mind?

The stories we tell ourselves can be debilitating. So – rather than making a decision and sticking to it – we provide ourselves with the insurance that comes with heaps of options. And overpack as a consequence.

So how do you overcome these obstacles and make packing decisions you never regret?

Three Tips To Avoid The Ultimate Packing Mistake

  1. Develop a signature style. This is the best advice I can offer to help overcome packing fears. Once you are comfortable with your look, and you fill your wardrobe with clothes that you not only love but that look fabulous on you, choosing what to pack becomes so much easier. Having confidence that your signature style looks good also means that you are more likely to stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is a killer when it comes to fun, happiness and feeling content with your choices.
  2. Don’t take dressing too seriously. Yes, I know everyone wants to look their best which is an excellent thing. But at the end of the day we are talking about getting dressed and in reality there is not too much you can muck up. Remember that everyone is the star of their own movie and that people are generally thinking more about themselves than they are about you. Wear what you feel comfortable and confident in and it is unlikely that you will go wrong. And along similar lines, really question the need to take every beauty product in your cupboard (or at the very least seek out travel sized products). You usually find that when you are away you start looking for a more relaxed beauty routine anyway.
  3. Don’t forget that unless you are travelling to somewhere extremely remote (in which case you will no doubt have a very clear idea of the clothes you’ll be looking to pack) you will usually have the opportunity to buy something new. This means that if things really have gone pear shaped – you misread the dress code or you get a last minute invite to some black-tie event (as happened to me once) – you can duck out to the shops. I can promise you that the need to do this doesn’t come up that often. And remembering that you can always buy something can save you from popping too much in your case and feeling like a pack horse as you trudge through the airport.

Have you ever made the ultimate packing mistake by not deciding what you’ll wear before you travel? Do you have additional tips on how to avoid this mistake? Either way, we’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Until next time – au revoir.



Photo credit: Carla Coulson 2015

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

15 thoughts on “Do You Make The Ultimate Packing Mistake?

  • Roz

    No comment about packing but …..your jacket is to die for!!!!!

    Now I’m thinking about using an unworn lambs leather coat to sew a jacket.

    Happy travelling

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you so much for the compliment on the jacket Roz. I’ve had it for a while now and it travels with me everywhere – I love it. I also love your idea for converting your coat – please let me know how it goes.

  • Julia

    I am 68 years old and for the first time in my life I wore everything I packed for a recent trip! I lost direction with my wardrobe when I retired, but after some hard work I now have it whittled down to a fraction of what I used to have. It may seem very boring but nearly everything I took was navy, which saves so much time. However, I did take quite a few scarves and accessories combining the navy with other colours. After all, you see different people every day on holiday! I have another short trip coming up and am going to try and whittle it down even more!

    • Janelle Post author

      Congratulations Julia. It feels amazing when you nail your packing. I don’t think it sounds boring at all to travel with an all navy packing list – especially when you also pack scarves!!! You can’t go wrong with neutrals. For this upcoming trip, my case will be filled with a stack of black and grey. Travel safe on your upcoming trip and good luck with whittling down the packing. I’d love to know how you go.

  • Nat

    Dear Janelle
    Thank you again for a lovely and helpful post. I want to let you know that your ebook is really beautiful. I love both the photos and the content.
    I am thrilled with your upcoming trip to France and wish you all the best with packing, planning and traveling. I am sure it will be a fabulous one. You two look very happy and fabulous here!

    Packing for a trip:
    Yes I have made many mistakes mostly by overpacking and picking the wrong shoes. I have also learned to pack all of the important pieces of clothes and all the necessary personal items with me on the carry on. At lease pack 2 days worth of clothing/things you really need in your carry on. I agree that it is fun to buy new clothes and new things but it could be a challenge with your limited time. Actually on my last trip to Paris, my main suitcase was routed elsewhere and did not make it to our hotel until 2 days later. It was a little challenge looking for some walk around type of clothes from places around our hotel. So from now on I will make sure to have enough to get by for 2 days. So shopping for new thing would be much more fun without pressure. In Paris you always get away with being overdressed. 🙂

    And I will always pack a comfy and cute pair of shoes that you could walk around comfortably (and in style). A few great scarves and stylish sunglasses are a must.

    Look forward to hearing about your Paris’s trip next week.

    jusqu’à la prochaine fois

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you for the beautiful wishes Nat – you are so thoughtful. You are so right – shoes can be a real problem when it comes to packing light. Thanks for the advice on the spare outfits in the carry-on. I agree that shopping in a rush is no fun at all. Can’t wait to share our trip with you!!

    • Janelle Post author

      P.S. Nat, I should have said a great big thank you to you earlier for your comments about our e-book. I’m so, so grateful. Entrée was my very first attempt at a publication and I put stacks of love into it. Scotty and Cal (our son) had it turned into a printed book for my birthday and it is one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received.

  • Adele

    I’ve gotten pretty good about curating my packing list, but still end up returning from a trip with one or two things I never wore. One of the “best” things that ever happened to me was on our first fairly long trip, 17 nights away, starting in Madrid for the first 3 nights then moving to Italy. My checked bag was delayed for the first 2 1/2 days, so I had only one change of clothes with me, the shoes I was wearing, and my travel sized toiletries. Having no choice was actually liberating! It really got me out of the mind set that anyone else really cared what I had on………though it was a relief to finally get my bag.

    • Janelle Post author

      Great point Graham. Although for me it means that I normally take home more shoes!! This trip, we are finally heading towards the parts of France you love so much. Can’t wait to check them out!!!