5 Tips for Packing Light

I’ve been travelling (again) and watching my less-experienced travelling companions struggling with all their stuff. Meanwhile, thanks to my recent three-month trip, I was able to get everything into carry-on for the first time ever.

So here are some tips for packing light…

1. You need less stuff than you think you do. I can almost guarantee that you won’t even miss what you didn’t bring. Don’t think “what if”, think LIGHT. And I promise other people won’t pay that much attention to what you’re wearing, so repeating outfits is just fine.

2. You can buy more along the way. You don’t need to pack big bottles of toiletries or all the snacks you’ll need for weeks — just buy them as you go. Bring only enough to get you through the first few days to a week. (Do your research, though. For example, sunscreen and tampons may be hard to find in Asia. Toilet paper, though, is widely available, even though it’s not used by locals. If you’re travelling in your own continent, you really don’t need to bring this stuff from home!)

3. Pack multipurpose, coordinated clothing. For a recent three-week trip to British Columbia, I brought two pairs of pants, one skirt, one dress (only because there was a fancy occasion to attend), four shirts (bring more tops than bottoms!), a fleece jacket, a casual blazer, a raincoat, light hiking boots, and sandals. And I didn’t even wear one of the shirts! Everything went with everything else and could be worn multiple ways…and the look could be changed by adding necklaces or scarves. Some of it could be dressed up or down. None of it was for a one-use time only, except the dress.

4. Be strict about your electronics. A lot of the weight in your luggage isn’t clothing, it’s electronics (and their power cords and adapters and…). This is a weak spot for me. I usually travel with a largish camera, a small netbook (a tablet would work for someone who doesn’t type as much as I do), an ereader, and a cell phone. I don’t have a smartphone — if I did, I’d try to ditch the ereader. But at least I don’t have to pack multiple novels or travel guidebooks anymore!

5. Leave room for purchases along the way. Even if you’re not a big shopper, chances are pretty good you’ll spot something nifty in a local shop and want to buy it, or you might want to get gifts for people back home. If you pack less stuff to start with, you’ll have room for new finds. Keep telling yourself that while you’re packing, and it’ll give you an incentive to pack light!

So what DO you need? Stay tuned…in a future post I’ll share the items I found most essential during my three-month trip through Asia.

Your turn! Are you a good packer? What are your best tips for packing light?

11 responses to “5 Tips for Packing Light

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your post. I only take a carry on when I travel and it’s way easier. Nothing worse then hauling around bags of luggage all the time.

  2. Joanna, exactly. One suitcase or backpack (the smallest you can get away with), one daypack or shoulder bag, and you’re good to go and still mobile!

  3. I’m pretty good at packing light — micromodal and bamboo are fabulous fabrics for travelling, as is marino for colder destinations. The hardest thing is when there’s a variation in climate, or you’re not quite sure what it’s likely to be, or variation in dress code…

    The thing I struggle with the most is wanting to pack my favourite clothes or shoes, rather than the ones that key in with the mix and match scheme. That’s a discipline thing. πŸ™‚

  4. Sounds good to me. I always take too much stuff, then just lug it around. I get better each time I go somewhere. Maybe I need more practice?

  5. livrancourt

    Well, and if you pack light enough, you have room to bring more pairs of shoes!!

  6. Great advice. When packing I usually end up surrounding myself with tons of options then narrowing down, and narrowing again, and again… and I still end up with a few things I don’t wear. I struggle most on vacations with multiple potential activities (for example, hiking, beach time, sightseeing, and nice dinners out as with my last trip to Italy). It’s much easier for me if the trip has one main purpose and I can just plan for that.

  7. Ellen, I hear ya! We coped with differing climates through layering, but there were certainly times we wished for more warm layers. I did discard some clothes and buy a few others along the way.

    Janice, practice definitely helps! Eventually you get it down to an art, but if you’re anything like me, it takes a while to get there. πŸ˜‰

    Liv, good point!

    Sherri, yes, multiple activities/milieus can be a killer! I’m always on the lookout for the perfect pair of shoes (or sandals) that can work for *everything*, but I haven’t found them yet. Possibly because they don’t exist….

  8. I should have read this before my cross-country move πŸ™‚

  9. Ken, that’s a whole ‘nother skill again! I didn’t do very well at “moving light” last year. Probably practice would help with that too, not that I’m planning to move again anytime soon!

  10. Pingback: I’m a human packing for a trip; this isn’t Survivor. | Bianca on the Road

  11. Pingback: What to Pack when you are travelling around the world | My Southeast Asia Travels

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