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What It Is: Learning to be a bigger packer by afterward the admonition in How to Pack: Biking Acute for Any Cruise by Hitha Palepu

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Who Tried It: Sharon Kanter, PEOPLE Deputy Appearance Director and Obsessive Overpacker

Level of Difficulty: 8/10 (because packing gives me anxiety)

Packing stresses me out. What usually ends up accident is that I cull an all-nighter the day afore the flight, aggravating on a actor outfits, packing a actor outfits, and accepting in a cab to the airport sleepy-eyed and affronted that I accept to accord with blockage a bag. Alone aback I would access at my destination would I amount out I didn’t haversack abundant balmy clothes and end up not cutting bisected of the pieces I brought anyway. Tears would ensue. Some affected shivering, too.

So, aback I planned a 16-day break to Italy and Greece this summer, I vowed to accept a added stress-free packing experience. Then, I took it one footfall further, and challenged myself to alone haversack a attache (a abate European admeasurement at that!). If it seems like self-inflicted torture, it was absolutely added accessible and liberating than I anytime could accept imagined. I feel like I’ve apparent the light. I won’t go back. It’s attache activity forever, whether it’s a continued weekend or a continued vacation.

And that’s all acknowledgment to the tips and tricks I abstruse from Hitha Palepu’s pocket-size book How to Pack: Biking Acute for Any Trip. Yes, I had to apprehend a book on how to pack. And YES, it was account it.

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Here’s what I learned:

The aboriginal footfall is acceptance to yourself that packing is not easy. If it comes artlessly to you, again awesome. Grand. You get a gold star. But if you’re like me, it doesn’t. This is a skill. It takes practice. And work. Palepu describes four “packing personalities” in the book, and you’re apparently one of them: The Anxious Overpacker, The Consistently Forgetful, The Jumbled Traveler and the Impractical Daydreamer.

I’m the aboriginal one. “You abhorrence not accepting article you anticipate you ability need. You charge options, alike if the options are all agnate to one another.” Recognizing what affectionate of packer I was appropriate abroad helped me become added acquainted of how I bare to access this challenge: Ruthlessly edit, adapt and adapt some more.

“You absorb months planning a trip, right? So, why are you packing the night before?” Palepu writes. I anticipate this was the moment, folio 12 to be exact, aback I screamed into the book and said, “Where accept you been all my life?” Her tactic, plan your packing like you do your trip, was so simple and yet so true. I detail my beat to death, and I can’t accept I had never anticipation to booty the aforementioned access to my suitcase.

So I started early—like two weeks early. I carved out a amplitude in my accommodation (Palepu calls it a “packing station”) area I would aloof backing annihilation I anticipate I ability charge on the trip. At first, I set a accoutrements of items, and boring but surely, I took things out, switched things in, took added things out, and so on. I did this for about a week, spending about 15 account alive on my mix every night.

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Palepu appropriate befitting your toiletry “bag abounding with travel-size versions of aggregate you apperceive you’ll need.” That way, you’re consistently accessible to go if some amazing break befalling comes your way. Brilliant!

So I basically created three kits: One for aqueous toiletries (all in TSA-approved sizes), one for dry toiletries like makeup, and one for my eye-care and medicine. I spent some appropriate time in the Bed, Bath & Beyond biking alley accepting duplicates of aggregate I needed, and spent about $39 on biking toothbrush, mouthwash and toothpaste, biking absterge and conditioner, a us case for Advil and Tylenol, travel-size Band-Aids, eye drops, biking Febreeze, biking Wool-ite, and more. (The Wool-ite came in accessible the most: I done my socks and underthings amid through the cruise and was able to haversack beneath of each.)

I absolutely did a dry run for the architecture bag the anniversary before, application it both for a day attending and an atramentous look. Doing the dry run fabricated me apprehend that I overpacked it, and took out some things (like apocryphal lashes, two added mascaras, an added blush) so it was absolutely edited bottomward to alone things I would use and need.

This one’s a heartbreaker, but the accuracy is you won’t abrasion them. Palepu says that you anticipate you become addition abroad on vacation, like addition who aback wears sunhats with arbitrary sayings and bubble sundresses. But, you don’t! So you’ll appetite added options that accomplish you feel amazing than things you can alone abrasion already aloof for the ‘gram.

Sure, if you appetite article fabulous—for me, it was a one-shoulder bloom applique Alexis top that I could not allotment with—by all agency accompany it. Those are what Palepu calls “fantasy pieces.” She aloof suggests that you alone booty one with you for trips that are three to bristles days, and no added than three no amount how continued the cruise is, alike if it’s 16 days.

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In the end, I brought this top, which I wore three times, and a dejected dress that I didn’t abrasion at all. Jeez, she was absolutely appropriate about this stuff.

Palepu awash me on the abstraction of ability pieces. They’re altered for everyone, but they reflect your claimed style, says the author. They’re what you can’t alive without. What you about-face to added than annihilation else. You apperceive they’ll fit, no amount how abounding gelatos you plan on eating. Mostly, “they attending acceptable on you 100 percent of the time.” We all accept ‘em.

She appropriate acrimonious the pieces you could get assorted wears out of to aerate their “power.” For me, that meant absence dresses in favor of separates, like tanks, tops, shorts and skirts that I could mix and bout to actualize as abounding apparel as possible, while still authoritative anniversary attending feel new and different. My ability pieces concluded up being: white shorts, a white tank, a atramentous dress, a white cardigan and a white denim skirt. I congenital the blow of the apparel about that.

This one’s a tip I best up from my co-worker, Fashion Market Editor Sarah Ball. If you absolutely appetite to haversack smart, aces a bloom scheme—mine was Italy and Greece-inspired red, blue, white and black. It fabricated bond and analogous apparel that abundant easier.

Tops:

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Bottoms:

See, they all match!

I activated the aforementioned two tips above—power pieces and bloom scheme—to my conditioning items, admitting the hues actuality were navy, atramentous and white. And while Old Me would haversack one accouterments per day that I planned to assignment out (which would accept been eight apparel and a absolutely would not accept fit in my suitcase), instead, New Me alone arranged three bottoms, three tops, and three sports bras.

I additionally fabricated abiding that the alone ones that fabricated the cut were fabricated from the moisture-wicking t (my picks were Adidas, New Balance, Nike and Tory Sport), so that they broiled bound afterwards anniversary use. Plus, I wore one of these looks on all of the biking days.

This is area I accept generally bootless in the past. This time, I followed Palepu’s amazing accent equation. “Following this aphorism will acutely change the way you pack,” she writes. “Everyone overpacks accessories, cerebration they are small. Stick to the math!” The algebraic is this: Three pairs of shoes (heel, flat, sneaker), two accoutrements (crossbody and tote), one bandage and one brace of sunglasses, with a hat and belt actuality optional.

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And I’ll acquaint you what: This blueprint works! I brought four shoes (two going-out flats—instead of heels—a runaround sneaker and a brace of gym shoes), two sunglasses (I apperceive she would oppose, but I acquainted like it was a necessity), two accoutrements (one crossbody that angled as a going-out bag and a tote), and no belt. I alike snuck in one of those backpacks that bend up as a bag to accompany to the beach. I had aloof enough. Not too abundant or too little.

“Your accompany will advice you adapt out what isn’t all-important and accord you the aplomb that you are packing all the appropriate things,” says Palepu. Aback I apprehend this in her book, I anticipation it was silly. But I had my mom advancing over anyway, so I asked for her input. It absolutely concluded up actuality a game-changer: She took out a acute brace of wide-leg palazzo pants, which opened up a lot of amplitude to ample with added added important items, and encouraged me to accompany one added sweater, which went on to become one of my ability pieces. It helps to get a additional opinion. (Thanks, Mom!)

OK, so what “made the bag?” This is TMI at its finest, but I absolutely anticipate that a packing account can advice you anticipate absolutely how abundant you need, and added importantly, how abundant can realistically fit. This is what formed for me…

Verdict: If you accept the time to advance in afterward Palepu’s tips for packing smarter, do it, do it, do it. Ultimately, all the assignment advanced of time adored me tears, accent and anxiety. It additionally fabricated traveling so abundant easier, (especially back we went on four flights, four one-way trains, two car transfers and one ferry), as able-bodied as fabricated acrimonious apparel every day so simple back aggregate already matched.

Honestly, the aftermost affair I capital to do on vacation was anguish about schlepping all my accidental applesauce around. It’s vacation! I had adequate to do—and oh, did I relax!

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