This blog post was updated on July 28, 2021.
From the business trip to a weekend getaway, most of us approach packing in a different light depending on the occasion. Business trips call for more formal wear while backpacking through Europe is a whole different ball game. However, all occasions can be simplified if you chose to travel light. Packing light translates into fewer baggage fees because you can carry-on your luggage, less time spent at baggage claim and more mobility. Whether you are taking off on a weekend getaway or heading on the road for several weeks, here are some simple rules to live by for traveling light no matter where you are going and why.
Use Packing Cubes and Compression Bags
Not all luggage is created equal. There are a host of modern luggage accessories that make packing substantially easier. A compression element will generally halve the amount of space that your clothes take up in the luggage. Please note that a compression bag or cube may save physical space, but it will not cut down on the total weight of your suitcase. Since most airlines have weight limits for luggage, it is important that you are still careful to not exceed the pound limits.
Eliminate Bulky and Heavy Bags
Obviously, this rule may need to be amended if you are traveling somewhere particularly cold such as a mountain resort for a ski trip. However, it is a good idea to do everything that you can to skip the bulk when packing your suitcase. Lighter technical gear is a good substitute for heavier winter coats and jackets. You also need to weigh how much you plan on wearing a particular item. For example, can you substitute that bulky sweater that you plan on wearing one evening for a lighter cardigan that will also double as a jacket for another occasion? If you need a particularly heavy item, you can wear it with you on the plane so that you do not need to pack it in your luggage.
In addition, many travelers neglect to look at the specifications of their bag, namely in the weight department. Be sure you buy a bag that isn’t heavy to begin with, even before clothes are added. It is also a good idea to buy a bag that goes for a variety trips. For example, a rolling duffel works for both a business and a leisure trip.
Set a Strict Shoe Limit
It’s no secret that shoes are one of the biggest space hoarders in a bag. Whether you’re traveling long term or just for a quick business trip, you don’t need twelve pairs of shoes. For most trips, you can get away with two pairs of shoes – one you wear and one you pack. A good rule for shoes is to pack one comfortable, all day wearing sole and one pair that can go a bit dressier if you need it to be.
Avoid Packing Nonessential Things You Can Pick Up on Your Travels
It is understandable to need to take a variety of toiletries with you on your trip. However, you should try to avoid packing items that you can pick up when you arrive. Stopping by a pharmacy when you arrive to purchase your toiletries rather than dragging them from home will free up a load of space in your luggage. This is particularly true if your trip is for an extended time period that necessitates that you bring along a significant amount of toiletries. You can also apply this same rule to purchasing items such as a beach towel or other essentials for your trip. The more that you can purchase when you arrive, the lighter that you will be able to pack.
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Make a List in Advance and Stick to It
Many travelers bemoan packing, waiting until just before a trip to start the process. No matter the type of trip you’re taking, from last minute flights to long-planned journeys, packing the night before takeoff always leads to a heavy load. You toss in items you don’t necessarily need but in the heat of the moment, namely an hour before your flight, you throw in the kitchen sink. Lists can help you pack light. Make a very minimalist list of items you must have a week before you trip. Test them out in your bag. If your load is too heavy, it’s time to make some cuts.
Pack Mix-and-Max Outfits Based on Your Itinerary
Keeping your itinerary in mind when picking out your clothes will maximize your luggage space, especially if you mix and match components of your wardrobe to give you the most flexibility while on your trip. You should always pack clothing items that go with more than one outfit combination. Items should be interchangeable in order to create a variety of combinations, giving the appearance of having more, with a whole lot less.
Stick to Digitized Media
In today’s connected world, it is easier than ever to travel lightly with all of your essential media and entertainment. Before you take off for your trip, take the time to download the books, magazines, and other digital media to your electronic reader, tablet, or laptop. This will make it possible for you to leave the physical media at home and travel more lightly with all of your essential reading material and entertainment.
Have your own packing rules for traveling light that we can add to this list? Leave them in the comments section below!
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