Diary of an Overpacker and the SCOTTEVEST Challenge

Everyone has their faults. Some people are drug addicts, others spend more than they earn on pretty, shiny things. I am a horrific, gratuitous, disgusting overpacker.

I think my packing disorder probably stems from my tendency to overplan. Both are the result of a need to control every aspect of a trip, which is impossible, and to naively ensure that every potentiality is foreseen.

Of course anyone who has traveled anywhere knows that not only is this a ridiculous concept, but it’s also really boring. The best part of a trip is the unknown, the unplanned and sometimes the unfortunate. After some counseling, I think I’ve mostly conquered my tendency to schedule every second of every trip, but my luggage is still the elephant in the room.

My overpacking does vary however by trip. For a trip of 2-3 days, I have a small roller for clothes, and a bag as a carry-on. For a trip about a week in length, I have a larger suitcase and usually take 1-2 carry-ons. Two weeks is where it starts to get zany. I have a mega-suitcase (I’m pretty sure I could pack a couple of kids in there) and take another smaller roller and at least two carry-ons. In my defense, I’m not bringing twenty pairs of shoes or anything, rather I plan for every potential occasion.

“What if we’re invited to a fancy dress party?”
“What if the Prime Minister needs to chat?”
“What is we decide to go swimming, then horseback riding then attend a black-tie ball all in the same day?”

You get the idea. I also have the bizarre notion that wherever I go, they will have nothing I need in case I forget to pack it.

Loper Spouse – “Why are you packing three tubes of toothpaste?”
Me – “Well, what if I can’t find it, or it’s too expensive, or I lose one, or…”
Loper Spouse – “We’re going to Toronto, pretty sure they have toothpaste.”

I decided to seek help. Being the social media addict that I am, I have noticed over the last year or two many fellow travelers who decided to take the ScotteVest challenge and in some cases travel completely bagless. While I wasn’t ready for that quantum leap (pretty sure you’d find me in a fetal position at LAX), I was confident that I could manage a Light Baggage Challenge. Not as sexy as the No-Bag Challenge, but such is life.

I ed the fine people over at and they agreed to help me in my therapeutic travel adventure. We talked about my travel, and we both agreed that my upcoming trip to New Zealand would be the perfect test of my light packing prowess.

This is actually quite the challenge for me. I will be gone for a little over a week and engaging in a wide variety of activities in a variety of climates. Normally I would take my large suitcase, but this time it’s just going to be me, a small duffel bag and the SCOTTEVEST Fleece 5.0 Jacket.

About the jacket, from the ScotteVest site:

The Fleece 5.0 is made of lightweight microfleece with subtle reflective piping front and back. It has fewer, yet more purposeful, pockets that range from handwarmer pockets to secure travel document compartments, and pockets for everyday carry items, too. Small, discrete graphic labels on some of the pockets offer suggested uses, so you don’t forget where you put things. You can even see and control your iPod®/iTouch®/iPhone® through the clear touch fabric of the interior pockets.

As you can see, this is the perfect vest for the trip. It can accommodate all of my technology needs and is warm, a necessary feature for the New Zealand winter.

Throughout the trip, I will be giving my thoughts and opinions on the jacket and how I’m progressing with the challenge. As usual, it will be no-holds-barred, I’ll share the best and worst of my experience.

Are you an overpacker? How have you tried to get over your addiction to stuff?

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By: Mike

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on , and

10 Responses

  1. Rease

    I have heard a lot about SCOTTEVEST products and seen them accommodate an amazing amount of stuff. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Mike

      Yeah I’ve been playing around with it and it’s pretty incredible. I just have to mentally get past the idea that I don’t need a carry-on. LOL

      Reply
  2. SCOTTEVEST

    Matt! We know you can do it. We are excited to follow your adventures! We have changed many over packing problems and hope that you will be the next changed man! Good luck!

    Reply
    • Mike

      Thanks! Can’t wait to try. Already had a few stumbling blocks packing, keep wanting to bring too much stuff!

      Reply
  3. Sarah W

    I am Sarah, (standing up) and I am an over packer. I share your pain. I have just discovered ScotteVest also and plan to use the hoodie (both the cotton and microfleece) for my upcoming trip to Toronto and New York in October (2 weeks for wedding and holiday). I bought my husband the Ultra Fleece. I have just returned from Costa Rica and I pack my travel scale with me. All my luggage are at 47 – 49 lbs. I look forward to the days where I can take off for a week with 1 carry on and no checked bags 🙂

    Reply
    • Mike

      Ha, I love it. Hey there Sarah and welcome! 🙂 I’m excited too, the idea of not having to check luggage is VERY attractive.

      Reply
  4. Trip Styler

    I too was an overpacker, but have refined my ways. For the past 1.5 years—since starting Trip Styler—I have only packed a carry-on! Matt you can do it. My trips have ranged from weekend jaunts to multi-week, multi-city, varied trip styles and all with a carry-on and purse! It is so doable and freeing!

    Reply
    • Mike

      Thank you, that’s encouraging. We’ll see how it goes!

      Reply
  5. MP MacD

    Hey Matt! I look forward to reading about your packing and travel adventures downunder. My husband and I have a three-month trip to Australia planned. We will bring one wheeled carry-on each (slightly smaller than the limit) and he will carry a day-pack as well (small backpack). I, on the other hand, need to bring my Obusform back rest wherever I go, so when we do internal flights on Quantas, I won’t be allowed any other carry-on. Our wheeled bags will be checked on and I will wear a Scottevest travel vest. I’ve been planning for months and finding the lightest/smallest versions of everything I will need with me. I don’t even have the vest yet (I pick it up from the border store on the weekend), but as far as I’m concerned, it’s already packed. Of course, I’m hoping to glean a few tips from your experience, so keep us posted on what worked and didn’t work as planned, and what you needed or didn’t need that surprised you. Happy Trips!

    Reply
  6. Fred

    Good luck, Matt. I’m a fan of the travel vest, but the fleece can probably hold even more. Would love to hear your thoughts on the jacket after your trip.

    Reply

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