I know. Another episode about packing. However, it is one of the most requested travel tips, and I thought I’d get someone on the show to talk about it.
In this episode, I talk to Brooke Schoenman. She is the creator of Her Packing List, a resource for female travel gear and packing advice. Brooke has spent a lot of time coming up with ways to make a travelling “less is more” guide – she has even perfected packing with just a handbag!
[02:19] Introducing Brooke Schoenman
Brooke is from Illinois but has been living in Australia for he past 11 years. She lives with her partner and their rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.
She was travelling the world in her 20s when she met an Australian guy in Europe. Once she went to Australia, got the residency and partner visa, she didn’t want to leave.
[05:15] Brooke’s travel journey
Brooke’s family are not big on travelling. Their trips were mostly to visit family in Ohio, and to Florida a couple of times, and her dad is afraid of flying.
Brooke started traveling when her Latin class in high school had the opportunity to go to Italy. When she was in college, she studied abroad in Italy.
I can relate. Our family travels were to the nearest family member’s house, and that’s where we spent our vacation.
[08:41] Her Packing List
Her Packing List has been running since 2010.
At the time, she was a travel blogger, and she was constantly looking for ways to monetize – which she started with a newsletter talking about backpacks, travel gear, and generally female oriented content. The newsletter started getting more and more feedback, with people being particularly interested in the gear aspect.
The content that she was creating for packing she decided to put onto a site of its own, and that was the start of Her Packing List.
It has since become both a business and a way to help people travel.
[11:09] Travel underwear
I’ve never thought about this when packing, but Brooke has 2 tips for packing underwear for traveling.
Tip #1: Pack underwear that is quick-drying.
You’ll want to avoid cotton, because it won’t dry in time if you’re on a tight schedule.
Tip #2: Get fabrics that are antimicrobial.
These help so that you don’t end up with stinky clothes in your backpack when you’re short on time between destinations.
[13:11] Carry-on only
It’s important to pack light so that you are in control. You don’t want to be in a strange place looking for someone to help you take your bags to the taxi or on to the bus.
Brooke says that if you think critically about what you’re packing, you can pack a carry-on bag for any trip length. A good rule of thumb is to pack a week’s worth of clothing, regardless of the length of your trip, and just wash and re-wear your clothes.
[15:11] Being in control
Brooke had an experience in Poland (everything turned out fine, there was no drama) where she felt like she wasn’t in control of her belongings when a man offered to help her find her tram and carried one of her bags.
[18:02] Pack for one week
If you’re traveling with equipment, having extra bags is fine.
If you’re not traveling with a lot of equipment, there are ways to condense your luggage into one week’s worth of items.
First, it requires sacrifice. You can’t expect to travel light and not give something up. Once you have that mindset, the rest is simple. Mix-and-match outfits, think about fabrics, and find multipurpose items.
[21:40] Being conscious about clothing in general
Brooke invests in her clothing. When shopping for clothing, she prefers items that are versatile in her day-to-day life that could also work for when she travels.
She is changing my mindset throughout this conversation. Now whenever I shop, I’m going to be more conscious of what I’m purchasing and why.
[24:30] Packing specific colours
If you’re trying to pack light, if you coordinate the colours in your bag, you’re always going to have items that work together.
[25:03] The best luggage
This will vary for each individual. If you have a sore shoulder, you might not want to be carrying a backpack. Or, if you must take extra luggage, ultralight bags help keep you mobile even with an extra bag.
Ultralight luggage doesn’t have much in terms of organization of items. Each pouch, zipper, pocket, and compartment adds extra weight on to the luggage.
[28:46] Washing clothes
Most often, you can handwash socks and underwear. You can re-wear jeans a couple of times before they need to be washed.
Brooke will make do if she needs to and washing clothes in the shower or the sink will do just fine.
[31:35] “What if…” clothes
This is the biggest cause of overpacking.
This is what Brooke calls the “inner worried mom voice”. It’s that voice inside your head that keeps asking if you’re sure you’ve got everything you MIGHT need, and then we end up packing things “just in case”. If that “just in case” never happens, then we packed something in for no reason.
[35:01] Don’t pack full-sized bottles
Repackaging toiletries can save a lot of space.
If you’re packing a half-empty tub of moisturizer, you’re taking up half a tub of space in your luggage unnecessarily. If you’re going away for a long weekend, it’s not necessary to take a large bottle of shampoo.
If each item you’re packing is repackaged, you could end up saving so much space that you could fit all of it into a carry-on bag.
[38:44] It starts with small changes
You don’t have to change your entire packing system overnight.
I’m going to be making small changes every time I travel, and eventually all the changes will make a big difference.
[39:43] Downsize to a handbag
That’s right. A handbag.
Brooke did a 3-week trip, packing no more than a 12L bag. A typical carry-on is around 40L.
This has become so popular over the years that she even started a handbag packing masterclass.
I want everyone listening to take the challenge to pack with just a handbag.
[43:51] Must-see in Australia
If you’re going to be in Australia and you’re looking for the essential spots to visit, Brooke has some recommendations: Northern Queensland, The Great Barrier Reef, and The Red Rock (Uluru).
This has been such an inspiring conversation, and Brooke has changed my mindset on so many things. I hope you’re also inspired to make small changes to your packing so you can pack lighter and have more control, which will also make your traveling more convenient and enjoyable.
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