Lighten Up: Tips for Packing Smart


Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

You always set out to pack light, but then life happens. What if you need that extra dress or that fourth pair of pants this weekend? Suddenly, that bottle of your favorite shampoo seems essential. It adds up and you find yourself sitting on your suitcase, trying desperately to close it without breaking the zipper. This is not going to work!

The trick is to focus on what you need — and you need less than you think.

Pack for Action

Choose your clothes for what you will be doing rather than the forecast. If you’re headed to a warm climate but you’ll be spending a lot of time in air-conditioned buildings, you may want a light sweater. Shoes are often the most difficult items to pack, so bring as few pairs as possible. Only bring heels/dress shoes if you know you will be doing something that requires them, and wear your bulkiest shoes for the travel day.

Mix and Match

Sticking to more neutral colors (or the same color-palette) can make this much easier. Even for longer trips where you will be doing laundry, you can bring fewer items without feeling like you are wearing the same thing every day. A good rule of thumb for longer trips is to have two of most items. That way you always have one clean, but you’re not carrying more than you need.

Wash Up

For a weekend trip, you may be able to pack all the clothes you’ll need, but much longer than that and you may need to wash a few items. Many destinations may have a laundry option at your hotel or somewhere nearby. If that is not available, a small clothesline and a bar of laundry soap easily tuck into an empty corner of your suitcase.

Shop Local

Many of the things you need will be available wherever you are going. This is especially true of toiletries. Have an adventure finding shampoo, toothpaste or soap in the city you’re visiting! You never know what other interesting things you’ll find along the way. You can always bring travel-sized bottles of any must-have products from home.

Pare Down

Stay organized and strategic to avoid overpacking. Laying things out on a bed or table can provide a good overview, and packing methodically can help you locate items in your suitcase later. Once you have everything in neat stacks, it's easy to see what needs to be packed and what you can do without. Challenge yourself to remove a few items or replace several pieces of clothing with one that can do the same job.

Focus on Multi-Use Items

Get creative with items that can multi-task! The hero of any world-traveller, a nice scarf can be used in several ways: to dress up an outfit, serve as a head covering in more conservative areas, use as a swimsuit cover-up, or to provide light warmth on a chilly evening. Travel size baby wipes, zipper storage bags, duct tape, and dental floss are also great multi-purpose additions to any traveller's bag.

With these tips and your traveller's spirit, you're sure to travel the world without letting your suitcase weigh you down!