Whether traveling for business or pleasure, everyone faces the same dilemma before leaving — what to pack.
Most people tend to overpack. They end up lugging around extra baggage, causing more inconvenience than necessary. It could cost them more in air travel fees, be challenging to bring to their room, and even render some destinations almost impossible to visit.
Traveling light is an art form. It’s a literal game of Tetris and survival all in one. What can you sacrifice for the good of the whole? How can you fit these into one small bag without it overflowing?
Here are some tips and tricks to help you successfully travel light.
1. Choose Functional Luggage, Not Pretty
The easiest way to ensure that you don’t overpack is to have the right bag. This is the first and most crucial step to light packing.
The size of the bag matters. It doesn’t matter if you buy a bag as big as your refrigerator; it’s just human nature to fill it to the brim.
You will want to use the smallest bag you can find, within reason, of course. This will help cut the number of things you can bring, and you won’t have a choice but to pack light.
You’ll also want to find more durable luggage that might not look as pretty as what’s inside of them. These functional bags are designed for convenient traveling. They have better pockets and packing features than the couture luggage.
2. Pack Your Less Bulky Shoes, Wear the Other Pair
Big shoes or boots are the largest items that most people pack. You can take back that big chunk of room in your suitcase by wearing them instead of packing them.
The bulkier shoes should be more comfortable to travel in since they usually have good cushioning. While you are at it, wear your bulkiest clothes, too.
Airports and airplanes are notoriously cold anyway, and you’ll free up even more packing space.
When packing light, you should bring two pairs of shoes, three tops. One pair for comfort, one for style, and if you pack a third, it should be very versatile.
3. Buy Your Toiletries When You Arrive
Don’t you just hate trying to find those tiny little bottles in your favorite toiletries?
There are so many annoying restrictions when traveling with liquids. The best thing to do is not to pack them at all!
Your toiletries are cheap enough to buy a sample size at your destination. If you are staying at a hotel, they provide most of what you need anyway.
You can bring your toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste. This can easily fit into any pouch in your bag and isn’t something most people want to be without.
4. Make All Your Clothes Match
Packing light doesn’t mean that you can’t look stylish when you arrive. Seasoned packers always bring a capsule wardrobe.
This is a strategically picked bundle of clothing where each piece can mix and match many other pieces. This cuts down on clothing needed since things can go together in different ways, and they almost all match.
Most of these clothes will be neutral colors and tones to eliminate clashing colors, and they will all find multipurpose uses.
5. Take an All-in-One Electronic
Your current novel, iPod for music, your laptop for movies, and a travel book on the country you will be visiting. Instead of packing all these separately, you can bring one electronic that can be all these things.
A small tablet is the perfect size to bring, and you can customize it by downloading everything you need before you leave.
Here’s a list of some things to consider adding to your all-in-one electronic:
- eBooks to read
- Travel Apps and Language Translators
- Contact info and personal info in case of emergencies
All you need to bring as accessories is your tiniest earbuds, and you’re all set!
6. Keep Your Accessories to a Bare Minimum
Be real with yourself. You aren’t Marilyn Monroe, or you wouldn’t be worried about packing light, so it’s best to keep your accessories in check.
To do this, pick one or two essentials and stick with that. This might include a jewelry set and a scarf or hat. If you are going somewhere sunny, a pair of shades.
Put all your jewelry in a foldable organizer or small pouch to keep it from getting lost, or just wear it the whole time.
7. Call Your Hotel Ahead of Time
If you know where you will be staying, you can call ahead to see what they offer, so you don’t have to pack those items.
These often include:
- baby gear
- electronic chargers
- sewing kit
- kids entertainment
- workout gear
Bonus: What Items to Always Pack
As obvious as it might seem, there are certain things that you just can’t leave home without, no matter how light you pack.
You would never want to leave behind your medications. This doesn’t include ibuprofen or cold medicine, but if you have a prescription drug that you take daily, you shouldn’t go on a trip without it.
It’s always best to arrive at a location with some of the local currency. You never know what you might need to buy with cash, and it can be difficult to find a place that will exchange currencies.
You don’t want to be without feminine products if you need them, so it’s always a good idea to have a few with you no matter what.
A small mesh laundry bag barely takes up any room and comes in really handy. So you don’t have any reason not to pack one.
Granted, you don’t want to be stuck somewhere without the necessary items to enjoy your stay. But it’s surprising how little you need when you are traveling.
Just as in life, the less baggage you carry around with you, the more you’ll enjoy the ride. So, next time you plan a trip, pack light!
From Greenville, NC, and East Carolina University Alum. Cat mom of two. Been with The Grove since July 2019. Fell in love with Auburn and the SEC life!