I used to be a chronic over-packer. If had a suitcase, no matter the size, no matter the duration of the trip, I felt obligated to fill it to capacity, as long as it didn’t exceed 50 lbs. Because…(1) I could never have too many options (2) I never knew what could come up, and (3) I had more clothes than travel days and I wanted to wear them all.
Do it frequently enough though, and you learn that over-packing is exhausting and inconvenient. Before each trip I endured the tedious task of rolling and layering things I knew I’d never use. During the trip I would have to dig through mountains of clothes to locate the few items I really needed. And after each trip I would have to unpack a whole bunch of stuff that should have remained in my closet in the first place.
All of that changed 2 years ago however, when I was forced to get my act together for my birthday trip to Mexico. We were planning to dive in Playa del Carmen and my dive gear occupied half of my suitcase. There was no wiggle room for extras. I had to figure out a way to pack less and not end up in Mexico regretting things I had left behind. But, how?
The answer came to me as I was lying in bed arbitrarily pinning cute outfits that I could only dream of owning. I noticed that a few of the combinations comprised similar items to those in my wardrobe. More than a little excited, I started a board called ‘Somewhere in my closet’, where I began pinning adorable ensembles that were way more chic than anything I would have put together on my own.
Then the light bulb switched on, and thus began the fun exercise of saving time, money and space by pre-packing with Pinterest.
Here’s how it works…
1. Map out your itinerary
It’s impossible to know every single thing you’ll be doing while you’re in a new country but estimates work just as well. Based on the destination you can determine the number of different activities you’ll engage in, and how many will require casual, dressy or sporty attire.
2. Create your Pinterest Packing board
Creating a board is as easy as clicking the ‘Create board’ link. Decide on a name – I usually just name it after my destination. Determine whether you want it to be public or private – I used to do private boards but now it doesn’t really matter. And figure out if you want to add collaborators – I have no reason to but maybe you do. Then you’re set!
3. Pick your base pieces
There may be a pair of floral shorts that you really like but have never been sure how to style them. Or maybe a pair of jeans you think fit you just right, but you don’t think it’ll work for the destination. Or that extra cute dress you wore on your last vaca and want to wear it again but with a twist. Pick out foundation pieces you’d like to rock and let Pinterest style them for you.
4. Search for outfits
Enter your foundation pieces into the search box, along with the season you’re packing for i.e. ‘White + jeans + summer’ and see what comes up. Within its millions of results you’re bound to find at least a dozen complete outfits you love, and within that dozen you can find a handful that you’re able to build from within your own wardrobe, accessories and all! As you discover looks that you like, assign them to specific days/activities.
5. Purchase supplementary items
Not all of your dream outfits will be in your closet. There may be some items that you’ll still need to purchase but, instead of running out and buying several whole new outfits you may not even wear during your trip, it’s usually just a matter of buying a reasonably priced tank top, belt or earrings.
6. Trim the fat
Pinterest is going to give you full outfits – including shoes, bags and jewelry, in a variety of colors and styles. If it’s a short weekend trip I’ve learned to narrow it down to one base – brown or black shoes/bag and one set of accessories. For longer trips I start by selecting two pairs of shoes – black and brown. Then I pair them with two small purses in each color. And since I prefer chunky accessories (which can get heavy), I pick one full set (earrings, necklace, bangles, rings) in brown/brass and another in silver, and I apply them to the relevant outfits. I’ll also throw in my jellies for the beach and a pair of wedges if I think I might need to dress up an outfit.
Packing with Pinterest has saved me from spending a ton of money on pre-trip shopping sprees. In just a couple years I went from traveling with approximately 50% brand new clothes in 2013, to purchasing not one single item for my most recent trip in 2016. My bank account loves it and so do I!