In my younger years (yeah, yeah I’m only 25 so what “younger years”?) I used to be something of a chronic overpacker. Friends used to joke that I was prepared for any event short of prom. Frankly, not much has changed. I’ve just developed black-belt level skills for maximizing space in a suitcase to avoid paying for a checked bag.
Last night, my little sister demonstrated the reason being an overpacker pays off – in a rather literal sense.
MeiMei* came into town this week for a documentary she’s working on. Peach and I took her out for dinner and drinks last night before she needed to go to a jazz club around 10.
At 8:15 she received a text telling the crew everyone needed to “suit up” (she’s the only woman on the crew).
“Uh, I guess I need to go buy a dress,” she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, the men have to wear a suit and tie. I don’t have anything with me fancy enough to go to a place that requires a suit and tie,” she explained.
A quick look at the club’s website and a Yelp review confirmed she needed to be in a fancy dress and heels.
“I’d let you go through my closet and borrow something,” I told her. “But, we don’t really have enough time to get to my apartment and then back to your hotel before for you need to leave.”
“I guess I’ll have to go buy something,” she said while rolling her eyes.
Fortunately, Nordstrom Rack was around the corner and open until 10:00. In the most efficient shopping trip of my life, we took 20 minutes to pull five dress options, have her try them one and find a matching pair of heels. She’d only packed boots and sneakers.
Unfortunately, she was forced to spend money on an outfit she didn’t exactly need. While both the shoes and dress will be worn again, she didn’t need to buy them if she’d simply had access to her wardrobe (or packed a nice dress and heels).
And this is why I always overpack.
MeiMei didn’t know she’d be expected to go to an upscale jazz club when she packed for her trip. She packed to be a producer on a documentary aka to stand on her feet all day and maybe go to one nice dinner.
In this way we differ in our packing strategies. I always am ready for an unexpected occasion. There will be a pair of heels and a nice (to fancy) dress in my bag, just in case! Even if I were the camping kind of gal, I still might bring one.
Another option is to get a credit card that offers the option to check a bag for free or just fly an airline that gives you a free checked bag – but those airlines are quite limited these days. Granted, credit cards with perks like free checked bags typically have an annual fee. Personally, I find the annual fee pays for itself if you just check a bag one time (unless you’re a high roller paying crazy $500 annual fees for club perks).
I realize I may be misrepresenting myself (and making my gender look bad) at this point. When I say overpack – I’m not carrying a mountain of luggage for a weekend get away. I just tend to bring about six outfits for a two or three day trip.
I would roll my eyes at the sight of four pieces of luggage for a weekend getaway (or really more than one + a personal item if it isn’t a wedding).
To those packers: come on now. Find a pair of shoes that matches more than one of your outfits.
Unless you’re Lady Gaga, I guess.
*Not her real name. It’s Chinese for little sister.