Double Duty Packing

I get lots of questions about how I pack for 4.5 months of travel and still stay sane and manage to have everything that I need.  There are lots of answers to that question, but the short answer is I don’t stay sane, and I don’t always have everything I need.  And yet, after 3 years of this I do a pretty good job, and I’m definitely better off than when we first started cruising.

I have written about packing several times on the blog: My first time packing for a ship, my shoe method of packing for the trip, and also about how much I love packing cubes. And while all of those give you some insight into effective ways to pack (especially using packing cubes… seriously, they’re magical), I’m going to share another great method for packing efficiently: double duty packing.

The concept is pretty simple, and borderline “duh” but, whenever possible, make sure that clothing items you pack can function in 2 or more ways.  That way you pack less.

A great way to start this is by considering very specific areas of your wardrobe.  Things like pajamas/sleepwear, swim cover ups, and workout wear.  When planning for those very specific areas of your wardrobe try to choose items that you could also wear beyond their intended use.
double duty 2double duty 3
Above is a great example of a piece that pulls great double, even triple duty.  That black tunic-like top is supposedly a dress that I got at Target for $6. I just thought it was a cool looking t-shirt (It’s hard to see all the detailing on it, since it’s black, but it has a slit in the back that is covered by a sheer polyester layer, and it’s just perfectly drapey), but when I tried it on I discovered that it is really soft and comfortable but also quite sheer.  I bought it anyway thinking I’d use it as a swim cover up.  But it’s so soft that I also use it as sleepwear.  And then one morning I didn’t want to take it off when I got out of bed, so I added a tank underneath, some leggings, an equally drapey vest, and scarf and assembled this very artsy look that is not my usual style, but was so fun and cool, nonetheless.

So basically what I’m saying is I’m taking it to Europe with me, and it will be pajamas, swim cover-up, and the occasional tunic for off-duty wear. I’m also suggesting that you avoid bringing one item or set of items that will only be used for a small or specific segment of your time, like sleeping.  I no longer bring any items that are just designated as sleepwear.  I have other clothes that can be used for that, and much more.

Once you start doing stuff like this it’s pretty easy to find other items that will do double duty.  Here are some other ideas to get you started:

leggings: layering items for everyday wear, workout wear, sleepwear
athletic shorts: workout wear, sleepwear, swim cover-up
Stylish athletic tops: workout wear, everyday wear, sleepwear
Plain/casual tanks and t-shirts: workout wear, everyday wear, layering items, sleepwear
Casual button front shirts: everyday wear, layering items, swim cover-up, and, if soft enough, sleepwear
Fancy but basic underwear: underwear, of course, but also lingerie should you have reason to need it (don’t pack really impractical lingerie that you can’t actually wear under normal clothes.  Do pack matching sets, and underthings in fun colors.)

This doesn’t solve every packing problem, but it does keep me from packing an item that will only be used once a week. Replacing overly specific items with a double duty item is definitely a way to be more efficient with the items you pack and the space you have.

Do you do something like this when you pack?

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