The Why #61: Why do I over pack every time I go on a holiday?

Hardhat
3 min readApr 20, 2023

By Dan Monheit 21.4.23

From Lucinda, North Melbourne

I hear you Lucinda. Deep down, I really do believe there’s a ‘carry on only’ Dan just dying to get out. But of course, he struggles to emerge under the weight of the giant suitcase I’ve packed to the brim for a breezy, three day jaunt.

Once away, the reality of extreme overpacking is unavoidable. Half your wardrobe seems to be looking up at you from the hotel room floor, asking, with those sad, puppy dog eyes, why you dragged it all the way here just to wear the same damn linen shorts, day in and day out.

I get it. Things feel different when you’re away. Comfort is key. Dressing up isn’t. Just like last time. So why oh why don’t we learn?

Truth be told, it’s not your fault Lucinda. It’s old Lucinda’s.

Projection Bias

Our tendency to assume that our future selves will have the exact same set of tastes, preferences and priorities that our current selves do.

George Loewenstein, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University ran a series of experiments that contrasted peoples’ predictions about how much they would be affected by a major life change (moving to a different climate, winning the lottery, becoming a paraplegic), with data from people who had actually experienced those changes.

Lowenstein found that subjects consistently and significantly overestimated the impact that these changes would have on their happiness, in large part because they couldn’t imagine experiencing these changes in any context other than the one they were already in.

If it’s warm outside, we can’t imagine ever not wanting a pool or a convertible.

If we’re starving while we shop, we can’t help but load our trolleys like we’re eating for Australia.

And if we’re at home in Melbourne packing for a mini vay-cay in sunny Byron, we can’t help but throw in the black puffer in case it gets cold, the slightly fancy shoes for the slightly fancy dinner, the three lightweight knits for a little extra variety and of course, the 17 pairs of undies for, well, just in case.

The lesson? We can’t help but make decisions for the future based on how we feel today.

For brands, the Projection Bias provides a golden opportunity to capitalise on motivation in the moment. This could be as simple as offering to book a follow up visit or service immediately after the first, adding recurring payments or bulk buy options, or going pedal to the metal on media when conditions are right. People will make all sorts of decisions — many of them long term — based on the assumption that they’ll always feel exactly as they do, right here, right now.

Behaviourally Yours,

Dan Monheit

PS If you missed the last edition, you can still check out why we hate flying when it’s actually a modern miracle here.

Bad Decisions Podcast
Learn more about Projection Bias in episode 22 of the Bad Decisions podcast.

Got a question?
Is there something you’ve always wondered about?
Send it through to AskDan@hardhat.com.au

Want more??

Check out Dan’s write up in Mumbrella on how the bed-in-a-box concept has disrupted an entire industry here.

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