When you’re preparing for a trip, it’s always helpful to bounce ideas off of friends and family or double-check your assumptions with some internet research.

The problem is that sometimes travel forums and friendly advice can lead us towards packing even more than we need. That’s why I always evaluate packing suggestions with a filter that includes the following four questions:

Am I packing for the trip I’m taking?

I love reading articles that give practical advice about packing for a certain destination I’ve never been to before. It helps me feel more secure in my choices and learn about the culture and destination at the same time. Even though one article may list some packing essentials, it’s always important to look at these suggestions in light of your own plans.

For example, I recently took a trip to Hawaii and while researching what to pack, lots of blog posts talked about hiking shoes, water shoes, wet suits, and more. This is all great advice, but this didn’t match my plans for my vacation. I was going to spend time on the beach, visiting museums, and eating good food. I didn’t need all that extra equipment for my version of a Hawaii trip, it just didn’t match.

Do I have duplicates or items that overlap in my packing list?

If you have one special event during your trip, you may need to pack a dress or something fancy. However, packing light means bringing versatile items and finding ways to make clothes appropriate for multiple events will lighten your packing list.

As you’re planning your packing list, ask yourself if certain items fulfill the same need. For example, if you have a skirt and a top that are paired together to make a nice classy outfit, you may not need to pack an extra dress you’ll only wear once. (See more destination Wedding advice).

Can I foresee wearing all these items more than once?

When I buy an expensive item, I try to evaluate the cost-per-wear. This means looking at how much money I’m spending vs how much I’ll wear the item. This works for packing if you consider the weigh-per-wear. How much space are you willing to dedicate to this item in exchange for the use you’re getting from it on the trip.

I’ve made a lot of tough choices easier thanks to this question, choosing small packable items vs larger special items that took up too much room for their contribution to the packing list.

Can I borrow or buy these items on location?

I was super tempted to buy all the recommended items on Hawaii packing list articles but they just wouldn’t fit! That’s when I remembered if something truly was necessary for a destination, it would most likely be available for purchase at that place. Borrowing items from your hotel or friends in your destination is also a great way to temporarily increase your packing list without actually buying anything.

Share your method for planning your packing list below!

Happy Travels xox