A couple of years ago one of my co-workers from WHOA Travel called me the Queen of Packing. This is a title I take seriously, and when I posted a photo about what I packing for my Kenyan Safari everyone started asking for my tips for packing light. So here they are my friends, I hope they help make packing light less stressful for you.
Picking the Right Luggage
Picking the right luggage is one of my best tips for traveling light. However, the right luggage is going to be different for every traveler. I’m big on only bringing what I can carry (I didn’t during my first trip to Japan and hated every minute of it!) so I usually go with a backpack. However, not everyone is physically able to carry everything to a small carry-on roller bag works best.
Here are my 3 top picks for luggage to bring with you on your next trip:
Gregory Packs Maven
My first pick is the Gregory Packs Maven. This backpack comes in 2 sizes, but I recommend getting the 35 liter because the 65 liter isn’t conducive to packing light.
It’s comfortable to carry on your back for long periods of time and has enough pockets to keep you organized.
CabinZero Classic 44 Liter
Yes, this is a second backpack, but the great thing I love about the CabinZero Classic 44 Liter is it only weighs 1 pound and 11 ounces! The bag itself is just asking you to pack light.
It has one zipper post on the front and a large pocket inside with plenty of space. There is also a lightly padded pocket for a laptop on the interior. I took this pack with me on my trip to Cozumel and it was perfect!
Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion 20″ Spinner
If you’re going to pack in a suitcase make sure it’s a carry-on to help you minimize the number of things you can pack.
Investing in a suitcase and buying one that will last you a long time is a really good idea. I always tell people to get a hardshell case just in case you’re forced to check it at the airport. Hardshell suitcases are more durable and they’ll keep your things safe when they bumped around.
The Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion 20″ Spinner is a great choice. The hard case, 4 spinning wheels, and attached lock make this perfect for packing light.
Don’t Pack more than a Week’s Worth of Clothes
No matter how long your trip is packing more than one weeks worth of clothing is a waste of space. And time. And also jet fuel.
I’m going to let you all in on a secret, no matter where you are in the world, you can do laundry. I KNOW! It’s shocking.
But in all seriousness, do laundry while you’re traveling. Here are a few ways to make it happen:
- Use the laundry service at your hotel/hostel
- Stay somewhere you will have access to a washing machine
- Do laundry in your sink or in a portable washing device like a Scrubba
- Find a local laundromat
Some of these options take longer than others and sometimes laundry services can be pricey (watch out for that!), but when moving from place to place you’ll thank me for not having to carry so much stuff.
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Pick Items that Mix and Match
When packing light it’s important to choose clothing items that you can mix and match to create different outfits.
Your best bet when trying this for the first time is bringing lots of solid clothing, and minimal prints. Prints can be difficult to mix and match, so keep in simple for yourself.
Jeans and black leggings are great because they go with everything! Other items I tend to pack are plain black dresses and a flowy grey/brown sweatshirt that goes with everything.
Lay everything out
This is my BIGGEST tips for packing light! Skipping this step is a mistake and will cause you to pack more than you need.
A week or so in advance I start putting things aside that I want to pack. Once you’re a few days out from your departure take everything you want to bring with you and lay it ou. Put it on your bed, couch, table, wherever is easiest for you.
Once everything is laid out, cut what’s in the pile in half. Don’t freak out now, you can do this, and no you won’t need anything you take out.
In a bunch of the women’s travel facebook groups I’m in I always seen women asking about packing lists. They share what they plan on packing and, I swear to you I’m not making this up, they’re packing 10 pairs of underwear for a 5-day trip. Unless you plan on sh!tting yourself every day, twice a day, you don’t need that much underwear.
For example, for a 2 week trip for clothes I pack:
- 4 pairs of pants or shorts
- 6 shirts – a combination of short and long sleeves
- 1 pair of shoes that I wear on the plane with me (plus sandals if it’s going to be sunny)
- 4 pairs of underwear
- 2 bras
- 5 pairs of socks
These are the basics and other things like jackets, bathing suits, and specialty equipment get added afterwards.
Wear your bulkiest items on the plane
Since I’ve climbed my fair share of mountains I’m usually traveling with my hiking boots. They’re big, bulky, and take up a ton of room in my bag. I’m also based out of Vermont so 6 months out of the year I need a warm jacket.
Both of these items take up a ton of space in my bag, so instead of packing them, I wear them on the plane or when I’m in transit from place to place (If possible – My jacket can be stashed in a small stuff sack just in case.)