The Reddit Hack That May Be The Answer To Your Overpacking Woes

Packing cubes, compression bags, rolling clothes, the Rule of Three — one would think the list of packing hacks and strategies has already been exhausted. Yet, in true Reddit fashion, this digital pool of human knowledge has produced yet another tip to help travelers pack a little lighter and save on luggage fees. 

When it comes to packing, so many people experience the same tough choices. How many shirts will you need? Will you require nice clothes for a fancy restaurant or nights out? How about accessories like shoes, bags, jewelry, and swimwear? The list can get even longer and more complicated depending on the length of your stay or if you plan to visit cities and the countryside, especially when participating in activities requiring special gear.

But there's a new kid on the smart packing block: the 20/20 rule. With this rule, instead of hindsight being 20/20, you will have perfect foresight. Where does this magical tip come from? In a thread on the subreddit r/TravelHacks, u/hobohobbies shares this winning advice for travelers: If you can buy it for less than $20 and get it within 20 minutes at your destination, leave it at home. While this seems pretty straightforward, there are some small caveats you should know to execute this advice perfectly.

How to avoid overpacking with the 20/20 rule

This rule is a fantastic way to be a ruthless lightweight packer. Gone are the days of questioning whether or not you need that extra shirt or bottle of shampoo. Any item that is a "maybe" and not an explicit "Yes, I need this" or "I will be incredibly inconvenienced without it" can be chucked back into your closet or bathroom drawer. 

When packing with this 20/20 rule, be sure you don't leave behind items that are difficult to find in other countries. For example, it may be hard to find tampons in certain Asian countries due to societal norms, as well as over-the-counter ibuprofen in Europe. While these items fit the under $20 rule, you might spend over 20 minutes looking for them — headaches and period-stained clothes wait for no one. So just be sure to bring necessities like this.

As you'll find with the 20/20 rule, you'll occasionally have to purchase some items. If this often happens when you travel using this packing strategy, place those items on your essentials list next time.

Other packing strategies if the 20/20 rule isn't for you

If you're a habitual over-packer, it might be hard to execute this strategy on the first try perfectly. If that's the case, try either one of these tried-and-tested packing strategies — the 54321 rule and the Rule of Three.

The 54321 rule is pretty straightforward and will include enough outfits for your travels. Per its guidelines, you will pack five shirts, four bottoms, three dresses and pairs of shoes, two bags, and one set of accessories that can easily match your other outfits. Graduating from this more lenient strategy, the Rule of Three is the next step towards becoming a better, lighter packer. The Rule of Three stipulates that you only pack three tops, three bottoms, and three pairs of shoes. You could also throw in three dresses, but the point is to keep things simple, so make sure that at least one pair of shoes will match these, too.

All this being said, if you can't become a lighter packer, you could try being a more efficient one using packing cubes and compression bags. Sure, these bags won't save you on weight, but they can at least keep your clothing and toiletries more organized.