I am 22 years of age and living at home while I finish my degree. My upcoming trip (with family) begins to take shape. I will be travelling with my mother for roughly 2 1/2 weeks (the first half of the trip), and then alone for about another 3.

There's one thing I'm still dreading: packing. My mother is an overpacker-in-denial, and she projects that onto everybody around her. Regardless of whether she's going on the trip or not, she'll pressure everybody who is going into packing 3 times as much stuff as is actually necessary, and packing time for any trip is always rife with arguments and fighting because my philosophy is less "be prepared for any possible scenario" and more "travel light" (it wouldn't be a problem if I didn't live with her).

How do I deal with the inevitable conflict between what I want to do (especially since I'll be travelling alone for a good part of the trip) and what she wants me to do? And, preferably, do it without yelling at each other nonstop for a week?

  • 2
    Split it between the stuff you want and the extras and make her carry the extras
    – Tim Galvin
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 15:14
  • Could you add a few details - will she travel with you and (roughly) how old are you?
    – Stephie
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 15:59
  • My mom decided that she got the best deal on the best quality canned ham, that apparently no one could get locally, and brought it with her when they flew in when my family all got together. My dad chided her - "I can't believe you carried a canned ham in your luggage like that." Her response - "Actually, you did." Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


In short, grow up, act like an adult and face the concequenses or let your mother dictate your traveling habits as long as you travel with her.

You have two basic options, take what you want and no more and have her shout at you or take what she thinks is needed and be overpacking.

If you feel the peace at home is most important, pack what she wants you to pack.

I would pack in two different bags/cases. One with the things you feel you need. And a second with the things she insist as extras. Do lock that second bag, (give her the key if you think it works) and do not use that.
That way you can show her that you did take enough and did not need the things she insisted on. She might come back to you with 'but the weather was not as extreme as it might have been' or 'but you walked with dirty clothing half the time'.

When you go on alone, have her take that bag home with her.
I assume she travels by car, as that is about the only way you can take that much extra luggage.

If you fly, you may have to store the extra bag somewhere and retrieve it on your way home, in that case it might be better to 'forget' it at home, before leaving for the airport.

Most people who start out traveling alone bring 'too much' luggage, compared to what they would bring years later when having traveled for several long solo trips by public transport. Many people will never feel the need to leave home the extra things, as they do not need to lug it around and have the car take care of it.

So if you travel on alone by car, for the peace at home, you can just lug around all including the kitchen sink, and never think about it.

With you at the age of 22, I feel this is not a parenting question, it is a travel question (I missed it there, otherwise I would have answered) and a question about how adults interact.


Your mother has presumably had a couple of decades, or more, more than you to acquire the habits she has. Habits become more difficult to change the deeper they are ingrained. You show a willingness (eg this very post) to adapt that we have no evidence is matched by your mother, so I think that has to be exploited. That is, it is rather up to you to 'comply' (and credit to you for showing some willingness to do so).

I think @Willeke's advice is a large part of a solution but may still be a little more confrontational than necessary. I am assuming your mother is less up-to-date than you are with the current contingency facilities available to travellers. For example, shops that open 24 hours rather than closing half day Wednesday and all day Sunday. And overnight delivery from online stores rather than several days by post, and back up that a mobile 'phone provides more effectively than fixed lines may do while in transit. And the ability to purchase with plastic even when cash has run out or been stolen.

I doubt your mother is bothered by any extravagance from buying an extra pair of socks while you are away (because yours got wet and you only took one pair). I think what she is concerned about is your discomfort and health from spending too long with wet feet just because you do not have a replacement pair of socks to hand.

I know (personal experience) the improvement in relationships achieved by "fleeing the nest" for a short period. Prove you can survive on your own and your mother will be reassured that she no longer needs to involve herself in your well-being to the extent she has for over 20 years. Just one trip away as an independent (with minimal luggage) should be sufficient evidence.

However for that first solo trip you still face the existing issues. I suggest you pack what your mother wants you to (avoids confrontation) and then take steps as suggested by @Willike. 'Accidentally' leaving a bag of surplus material behind may not be a good idea however. There is bound to be suspicion the forgetfulness was deliberate (exacerbating the issue) and I would expect your mother, from what you say, to make very certain it was not overlooked.

Better would be compare, on your return, a pile of what you did require with a pile of what you did not. And maybe mention the inconvenience you suffered from too much luggage (eg cost of storage). If not practical to split into two batches and leave one with your mother while you are away (despite her protestations!) try depositing what you do not want to lug around at a left-luggage locker. Then show her the bill for that, or a picture of the receipt, or of the left luggage office.

Also, you could deliberately leave behind, before setting off solo, one or two items you do expect to need. Then on your return recount how you managed without them. Perhaps: "I used a comb instead of a hairbrush", "I washed my hair with soap instead of shampoo", "I 'borrowed' some loo paper and used that instead of a handkerchief", "The train station sold umbrellas". This won't stop your mother worrying but should prove that "push comes to shove" and you'll manage. Assure her of that and I guarantee fewer arguments about packing thereafter.

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