This One Thing Cured My Packing Anxiety

I've lamented a few times to readers about my packing shortcomings. The root of the problem is that I'm not one to plan. I may make a list, but by the night before my flight, I'm shoving in extra pairs of shoes, spare jackets—whatever I can fit just in case. While I've tried to plan outfits and generally just work on cutting back, I haven't been able to curb my packing anxiety until now.

In March, I found myself lucky enough to travel for a week to India. I'd be doing a lot of moving around the country and needed outfits that ran the gamut—comfortable (for travel), fancy (for dinners), cool (because well, it's really hot there). And so, I decided to try something new: packing cubes. Though in part, the purpose is to keep yourself organized when you're moving from one hotel to another, the added bonus was that I could see exactly what I was bringing.

Sorting all my tops together was a reminder that I didn't need three white tees—in fact, one might suffice. Same was to be said for jeans—does one wear jeans in India? I'd bring one pair to be safe. Having an instant visual way to compartmentalize what I was bringing along quelled that feeling of last-minute anxiety that woke me up at 2 a.m. covered in sweat the night before my flight.

Below you'll find a simple breakdown of my anxiety-free packing method, as well as the packing cubes I used (from Away) and similar options. Then I included a little inspiration to help you pack for your next getaway.

1. Think in Categories

When figuring out what to pack, keep like things together. It will not only make it easier to find items while traveling, but it will help with organizing too.

2. Assign Each Category Its Own Cube

When you're ready to get packing, use one cube for each category of clothing. Keep tops, jeans, and even your socks and underwear together.