I had a boss that once said to me, “less is more.” I understood what he was saying but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to implement it. Now, in a totally different space and time in my life his words still ring true about everything. Less is more, in regards to the stuff in our homes and certainly our storage units. Less is more, in our wardrobe. Less is more in office correspondence. Less is more in a confrontation. The list goes on and as far as traveling, I can assure you that less is more, not in the amount of plane tickets you have, but in the amount of stuff you lug around in your suitcase. This lesson has come to bite me in the ass a few times and I hope to have you avoid the same mistakes.
What is it that makes us drag a heavy and often oversized suitcase around with us as we travel? With the Weather Channel and other travel related sites that offer extended forecasts we’re able to view exactly what we’re in for. Still, many of us find it difficult to pack in the first place and definitely bring way too much stuff with us. Who are we doing this for anyway?
As airlines pile on the baggage fees rising upwards of $75 per bag it becomes more and more important to scale down not only the size of our bag but the amount of clothing, shoes and accessories we drag along with us. Sure, I like to look stylish wherever I go but then somewhere along the line, I realized that most likely I was never going to see these people again so WTF. Why was I so compelled to bring a different outfit for every moment of my trip?
This all goes back to what’s in your closet to begin with (but that is a post of another day), capsule wardrobe anyone? General rule of thumb, less is more. Yes, it’s true, in every sense of the word. Trust me on this one. I know you want to bring everything in your closet so that you’re ready for anything. I get it, but it really doesn’t work that way. You won’t wear half the items you bring, and you’ll still have to lug it around. Worst of all you’ll be out of style anyway.
I have experienced being out of style and more than once and in more than one country. Man, is that an uncomfortable feeling. Still, I’m fortunate to be able to travel a lot and have worked hard to perfect my packing skills and pare it down. Now, I can pretty much go anywhere with a carry on, whether for business or personal.
But things were different more than twenty years ago when I attended a trade show in Munich, Germany. I got to experience first hand just how important this packing right stuff is. This was my first trip abroad by myself. I was petrified to say the least and I was attending an international trade show. Thankfully, I was a participant and not a vendor. It took me weeks to figure out what I was going to bring for clothing and I was really excited at what I had packed. Being proud of my belongings, I zipped up my luggage and off I flew.
My first morning at the trade show I walked around observing what was happening. It was very much unlike American trade shows, everyone was sipping on champagne and no one had a clip board full of order forms in their hands waiting for their next victim to enter into their showroom space. I was confused as my past experiences participating in American trade shows was all about taking orders. I spent the morning gathering catalogs of vendors that looked interesting to me and hurried off, being way to afraid to open my mouth and speak. I was in a foreign country after all.
The trade show was the largest stationery show in the world at the time and I was totally blown away by what I was seeing. The products were exquisite and the packaging was so skillfully crafted. There not only was the finest stationery in the world but also writing instruments, briefcases, leather goods, everything beautiful and wonderful for the desk top.
After some time of walking around this huge arena I took my catalogs and headed to the café, in the auditorium, for a cup of coffee. As I sat glancing through the catalogs totally clueless to the words on the pages, Italian, French and German, of which I don’t speak, read or understand, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was afterall, in a foreign country by myself, and nothing tragic had happened so far. Having gone through the morning without any terrifying experiences, I sat sipping on an espresso with beautiful product catalogs in my hand, feeling very international.
Just then a gentleman approached me and asked if he could share my table, as there were none left. But he asked me in English. I was mortified. Before I answered his question, politely as I could, asked him how he knew that I was American. His response was, “you obviously are, the way you are dressed gave you away” And although he did not mean this in a bad way, my heart sunk and I motioned him to sit down.
I brought my finest professional clothes with me. I thought I was the bomb. I felt confident in how I looked when I left the hotel in the morning and yet, bam, I was outted. After that somewhat horrific experience where my ego totally burst into a million pieces, I get it. Fast forward to today, having spent several years traveling pretty extensively, I get it that people or cultures have different looks, ways of walking, talking or gesturing, their hair color or shape of their eyes or faces, can all point toward a different region of the world. And now that I have had time to scrape my ego off the floor and put it where it belongs, which is in the garbage, I am able to enjoy my personal style and travel much lighter.
So whether I am traveling for a few days or a few months, I pack light and make sure to leave room in the suitcase for the new outfits I will purchase along the way. Because by not having to pay all the added luggage fees I have money left over to pick up a few key items to add to my wardrobe. Like, Espadrilles in Spain, Merino wool sweaters in Italy, leather handbags and shoes from Poland or a custom-made perfume from France; there is always room in my small piece of luggage for a unique piece. So the next time you book a ticket, have a look at what your destination is famous for, then leave that all behind and buy it on your journey. It will mean so much more and oh, what a story you will have to tell.
Becoming aware of and doing some research before you begin packing, will help you to feel more confident as well. I always am filled with anticipation about how my wardrobe will be enhanced on my next venture. So empty out your closet, down size to right size, create seasonal capsule wardrobes that you LOVE and get out and see the world.
By the way, the man that sat with me as we sipped our coffee in the trade show arena, was a buyer for a large department store chain in California who ended up being one of my largest clients. Lesson learned, always be willing to laugh at yourself and stop carrying around all that luggage. You’re already gorgeous. Be confident in your own skin. Less is More.
By the way…have a look at how to pack light here! Hope it helps you along your journey.
With a wink and a kiss,
P.S. If you like this post, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your journeys. And…as always…sharing is caring. Don’t forget to GET ON THE LIST and download my FREE Success Defined workbook and begin crafting your escape plan today!