Imagine a suitcase that gets lighter every day. No, it's not QUITE the same thing as disposable clothing for travel. But it's close. I've got a packing method you'll love!
I think I look pretty cute here, chasing pigeons outside Athens' Archaeological Museum. It's all thanks to my jaunty outfit - a beaded, embroidered tunic top and wrinkle resistant, slim fit trousers. It was the perfect outfit for traveling in Greece's warm autumn weather. I was comfortable and everything fit well. So why did I throw it away at the end of the day? No, I wasn't traveling with specialty disposable clothing for travel and, no, I didn't have a disastrous spill. Well, at least not this day! So what's going on?
Welcome to the world of throw away packing. Your carry on kit is about to get a lot lighter!
Some thoughts about disposable income, disposable clothing for travel, and re-using old clothing in new ways.
I rarely throw away my clothing. My disposable income goes towards - you guessed it -travel! When it comes to clothing I favor quality over quantity and I also try to get said quality at bargain basement prices whenever I can. But like most people, every year I seem to acquire a small pile of items whose life cycle is over - or at least it's over for me. Those items in good condition make their way to our donation pile but the rest are destined to be discarded around the world, thanks to throw away packing.
I plan my carry on pack with precision. Nothing makes the cut without careful consideration. It's not unusual for me to travel for a month with just three pairs of trousers and five shirts - and I always try to under-pack my bag, leaving room for souvenirs. But for those first few days of the trip, before conference papers or bags of coffee claim the space, I have room for a few extra items in addition to my usual packing list and that's where I stash my throw away gear.
When I say throw away gear, I'm NOT talking about disposable clothing for travel in the sense of items that are specifically sold to be worn once and then discarded. But I know what you mean! You're talking about items like this, a 10 pack of undies that are each worn once (or twice at the most if you hand wash) and then thrown away. There are also disposable travel baby bibs and even sports socks! For me I'd rather invest in one or two very high quality pieces of travel gear that I can use again and again. But we're getting a bit off track! So, no, I'm not talking about one time use disposable clothing for travel but rather regular clothing that you're taking with you when you travel to wear one last time. Let me explain....
So what exactly will you find in my throw away luggage?
So what's included in my disposable clothing list? It includes stuff like my beaded tunic top you saw me wear in Athens. A broken thread meant half the beads had been lost beyond repair. So it was good for one finale hurrah in front of the good citizens of Athens who would never see me again - but it wasn't salvageable for business meetings or social events at home. It had one proud, final day in the sunshine before getting tossed back at my hotel room. Same with those blue trousers - they looked fine from a distance but up close. those 5 year old stretchy pants were frayed and covered with a thousand tiny broken threads. Bye bye!
Also on the chopping block during my last trip to Europe? A pink cardigan (6 years old) which had been stretched out and had some mysterious micro-holes. There was also a purple tank top that had shrunk in the wash and required a camisole underneath for decency. The camisole went too -it had a pasta sauce stain that was only obscured by the purple tank top! Put it all together and I had a not-horrible ensemble, if only for 24 hours.
Finally, there was a green blouse that always seemed to gap in the wrong places and a pink camisole top that was too translucent for solo wear (both did just fine when layered together for a day at the Acropolis.) Oh, there was also plenty of underwear that had seen better days. And some socks that had just one wear left in 'em. All told, my pack had room for four days worth of throw away outfits (in addition to my usual gear) and, yes, I really did throw it all away!
Time for some packing strategy. What do you keep and what do you "throw away"?
If you have something that's a little bit too loose or just a tiny bit too tight, or something that rides up or bunches up, or always wrinkles, or always needs a second layer, or only looks good at a distance, or has a few impossible stains, put it in your throw away packing pile. Throw away packing is great for minimalist travelers and all people who have a "one in, one out" philosophy to buying new clothing. Toss the old item in your bag, wear it one last time, and throw it away. (If your clothing is still recyclable, send it to the airport or hotel lost & found, where it will eventually find its way to charity. Throw away packing doesn't actually mean everything goes in the garbage - it's just parting ways with you!)
Throw away packing has tons of travel advantages. It's a fun way to send off old favourites with one final hurrah. It's an easy way to give yourself a little bit of variety in your travel wardrobe (at least at the beginning of your trip.) And at least you're not wearing the identical shirt in EVERY photo you take - there's more than one color going on! It's fun to mix and match outfits, pairing standard items from your regular travel list with more funky stuff that's only good for one final wear. And it's awesome to feel like your pack is getting LIGHTER every day you travel.
Throw away packing really does keep your suitcase or backpack tidy and organized during those first few sleep-zombie, jet lag crazy days of a trip. I'll never forget arriving in Stockholm (it seems I do a lot of throw away packing in Sweden...hmmmmm.....) for the TBEX conference. I had about four days of throw away stuff crammed in with my regular gear. I can barely remember my first few days- insane jet lag combined with everything from wild boat rides to fancy receptions, to trying to stay awake on tours and in lectures. But somehow I had an occasion-appropriate outfit for each activity AND I didn't have to organize my pack once. I just kept skimming layers off the top! Travel win!
I'm completely obsessed with packing - maybe a little too obsessed - but I think throw away packing is something everyone can all get behind. It's easy, it's free, and it's fun. What's not to love?
What are you best packing tips and tricks?
Looking for more packing inspiration?
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Backpack Review: The Porter Osprey 46
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10 Tips To Keep Your Carryon Safe
My 3 Must-Pack Items
The Case for Carry-On and Ultra Light Packing
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