Pack like a Boy Scout

When I was taking my first long trip abroad, I called my brother, a Boy Scout, for packing tips and tricks.

Notorious in my family for packing a different pair of shoes for every single outfit when traveling, while I was packing for our family trip to Europe, I was determined to impress them with less baggage than my normal enormous load. So, one afternoon, I tasked myself with narrowing down my packing list to bare necessities and squeezing it all into one small suitcase and a small carry on. I did not do this without professional advisement though. Always put to shame by my little brother's packing skills, I called him up for advice on how to pack lighter. He learned from the best in Boy Scouts and let me in on a few secrets.

Gallon bags

This is perhaps the heart and soul of the Boy Scout packing technique. Typically, when I pack, I'll stack all my shorts up neatly, then my skirts, my shirts, etc; however, the scouts say to separate by day. My brother Nick filled me in on their best kept secret. They encourage their scouts to pack in gallon bags. He told me that he uses one gallon bag for each day of his trip and seals everything he needs for that day only in that gallon bag. If you're a little Type A like me, I like to label them by day as well. He told me that he then seals the bag only after getting all the air out to make sure that they fit in his suitcase as compact as possible.

Intimate inception

Another tip he gave me for making everything fit in the gallon bag is to wrap your intimates and smaller pieces inside the bigger pieces for the day. He often will place his socks and underwear in the middle of his t-shirts and shorts and encase them in those larger garments to make everything fit seamlessly. This also ensures that you'll have underwear for every single day and that you don't miscount.

The bare necessities

My brother stressed to only pack the bare necessities because he knows that I am a habitual over packer. What he really meant was less shoes. Probably my most profound change in packing habits was the limitation of my footwear. He told me with Boy Scouts they're encouraged to only pack their boots and their water shoes if they anticipate water activities. That frees up a lot of space. While I couldn't quite get it down to two pairs, I managed to choose one grey pair of sneakers that would match every outfit for day to day walking and touring of the cities we were visiting, one pair of ballet flats for a dressier but still comfy look, and one pair of nude heels that matched with everything. For me, I thought this was a pretty miraculous downsizing, but what can I say? I'm a changed woman!

After a long afternoon of reckoning with packing for three weeks abroad in just one suitcase, I had accomplished the impossible and contained everything in a small suitcase and simple carry on. The outcome was actually great! Not only did I feel less stressed moving from city to city and at the airport, I also didn't have the "what do I wear today" panic because everything was pre-planned and organized. I'll be packing like a Boy Scout from here on out!


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