Pack an extra shirt! Trust me, just do it.

shirtWhen I first started traveling for work I tended to overpack. By a lot. A complete outfit, with its own matching pair of shoes, was my typical method. After the airline lost one of my bags I forced myself to pare down. For a while, I went too far in the other direction. For example, on a two day trip I would only bring one shirt, jammies, and my toiletries, planning to rewear whatever pants I had on. It’s not that there is really anything inherently wrong with that; it’s just that it leaves no room for error. Spill something? Rip something? Lose something? Forget something? You are in big trouble unless you make a late-night dash to Target.

About a year into my business traveling career I was on a 4-day, two city trip. I had two pairs of pants and two shirts, intending to rewear everything in the second city. Unfortunately I spilled coffee on one of my shirts, a lovely cream-colored sweater. This necessitated a late-night run to a local Old Navy to get a replacement. However, it was the middle of a snowstorm and, as this Texas girl does not drive safely on snow, I was dependent on cabs to get around. Let’s just say that was a very expensive cab ride, and a very frantic shopping experience.

Last week, as I was packing for a 2-day trip to California, I just had this *feeling* that I needed to bring an extra shirt, just in case. (Maybe I’ve learned my lesson from all of the ruined shirts due to my adorable but incredibly messy twin toddlers?) Oh my goodness, am I glad that I listened to that feeling. I had to leave super early that morning, before 5am. As I was driving to the airport my hand brushed against the bottom of my shirt….and stuck to it. Yes, there was a mysterious sticky substance covering the lower half of my shirt. I still have no idea what it was!  I changed into my backup shirt upon arriving at the airport, knowing that there was no time to go buy a new shirt before heading to the office upon landing. And you can bet from now on I will pack a spare shirt in my suitcase on every trip. It won’t take up much room but could mean the difference between looking professional and…well, not.

Readers, have you ever needed an extra shirt and not had one?


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  1. I always pack a back up, especially for dress up events. I’ve had way too many dress zippers decide to not work on the way to a banquet or wedding and being on a short timeline, the backup saved me!

  2. Ultralight backpacker Andrew Skurka calls this “stupid light”. Where you go so light that it interferes with the main mission.
    His example was not bringing a pair of rain pants in order to save weight. It rained – hard. Andrew was stuck in his tent instead of hiking, which was the whole purpose of the trip.

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