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What Your Packing Style Reveals About You

Organized or over the top, what goes into your suitcase is a window into your soul

Close up of businesswoman packing clothes into travel bag

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En español | When you’re preparing for a trip, at the moment just before you close your suitcase, consider this: You have just packed your true self inside your luggage. Just as your handwriting reveals a lot about you and your voice is as unique as a fingerprint, your packing style is a window into your soul.

As a longtime travel journalist, I have observed people packing and unpacking in places around the world and witnessed a number of packing styles that have given me insight into who the packer is, both at home and on the road.

1. The Worrier

You know you’re prone to pre-trip jitters, so you organize everything in your mind, pack a week before the trip and still stew about last-minute details. You avoid packing bright clothes; actually, your wardrobe is all earth tones and neutral colors. You demand a lot of yourself and are self-critical. You are also intelligent, sensitive and observant. You try to please people and have a good heart. Once you are on the trip, your jitters go away and you occasionally – perhaps after a glass of wine – throw caution to the wind, change some plans, try new things and laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Travel is very healing for you.

2. The Consensus Builder

Packing is a group effort for you, and it involves asking your significant other, friends and family for advice. Does this shirt look good? What about the bathing suit? How many pants should you take? Should you consider wearing all black at night? You may project an air of self-confidence in some areas of your life, but you also need caring and attention and are not always as sure of yourself as it may appear. You’re a good friend to others and a great travel partner because you make decisions by consensus. Because you’re open to others’ suggestions about what to see and where to go, you reap the benefit of delightful, unanticipated pleasures while traveling.

3. The ‘I’ve Got This’ Packer

You have one carry-on for a two-week trip and still have room in your bag for gifts you buy on the road. You manage to look great every day, and you change to new shoes and clothes every night. You’re a no-nonsense, organized person who doesn’t like much outside interference and wants to be in control of his own life. You’re smart, competent and do not like to be caught off guard. You plan which monuments, museums and nature highlights you want to see. Your feelings are as organized as your luggage, but sometimes they refuse to be neatly packed away. When that happens, you surprise yourself by your openness to things you haven’t planned in advance and your ability to experience child-like joy and discovery.

4. The Eleventh-Hour Packer

You suffer from anxiety and postpone packing until the last possible minute. Packing makes you anxious, and the postponing makes you even more anxious, but you can’t help it. Chaos rules as you do last-minute organizing and try to remember which shoe you stuffed with which socks. Clothes are not important to you, but people are; you attract them easily and like to be the center of attention. On the road, you invariably feel you’ve packed the wrong clothes and end up wearing only half or two-thirds of them. You put on whatever is easiest to grab from your suitcase. You’re charming, engaging and your travel experiences have depth because of your boundless curiosity, spontaneity and ability to ignore your planned itinerary and connect to people you meet.  

5. Crème de la Crème

Packing is not something you do. It is something that others do for you. Actually, when you’re planning a trip, you spend zero time packing because you are going to one of your several houses, and everything you need is already there. You don’t like the word “no.” You’re generous and somewhat controlling and want others to be impressed by you. You’re free with money, and think it can buy you whatever you need. You’re smart, resourceful and a tad on the conservative side. When you travel to places where you don’t own a house, you expect and take pleasure in the best of everything — hotels, restaurants and bespoke experiences. You find walking in nature relaxing and often travel with someone who is heart first and a great comfort to you.

6. Over the Top

If you could put a handle on the side of your house and take it along, you would. Your style is over the top — literally — and you have to sit on your suitcase to get it to close. You’re imaginative, creative, distrust authority and dislike being told what to do. You’re a lot of fun, sometimes flamboyant, and you present a carefree face to the world. But underneath, you think and rethink things, are indecisive and easily hurt or wounded. You’re highly energized when you travel and have a wide-eyed appreciation of what you learn and experience. You find wonderful, unusual things when you shop and seek out new experiences. You need alone time to regenerate when you return home.

Judith Fein is an award-winning travel writer, speaker and author. Her website is

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