It is the end of another enjoyable vacation, of which the only part I don’t really enjoy is re-packing my suitcase to travel back home. As I empty the hotel wardrobe packing each item into my luggage, I note how many shirts, shoes and accessories I haven’t even worn. Oh, how I wish I had packed lighter.
But before I took off for my trip I was so excited and got carried away. You know the feeling. You have this vision of all the things you are going to do whilst you are away. You want different outfits with the right accessories for each new restaurant you try, you need special equipment for your planned adventure activities and let’s not forget all that grooming that is required before you head out for the day. How on earth are you going to pack all this into one suitcase let alone keep it light? This whole packing light thing seems a bit of a lark.
Well, I’m here to tell you, you can pack less in your travel packing with just a few tips and tricks. But I’m not going to promise you the world. I’m not going to promise you that you can fit two weeks of luggage into hand-carry – yes it is possible just not practical. What I am going to teach you is how you can easily pack less and travel lighter.
In this Article about How to Pack Lighter You Will Learn:
- Why you need to pack light
- Choosing the right size luggage
- Assessing your type of trip
- Consider your length of time away
- What to include in a travel wardrobe
- Packing toiletries
- Making the most of what is already supplied
Why You Need to Pack Less for a Trip
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Before we get into the tips on packing light you may be wondering why you even need to pack less? Basically, it is all about meeting the guidelines of the airline or cruise company you have decided to travel with.
Cruise lines often have larger luggage allowances but remember if you have to fly to your departure port then you need to abide by the airline guidelines.
If you are travelling on a full-service carrier with luggage included in your fare then generally you are allowed one piece of checked-in luggage weighing no more than 20kg/44lb. If you re travelling on a low-cost carrier then you need to buy your luggage allowance in addition to your fare. The more you want to take the more you pay.
Therefore keeping your travel luggage as light as possible reduces your travel costs.
7 Packing Light Tips
Each trip you take will be different. What you need to pack for one trip you may not need for the next. You may not be away for as longer than you were for the last. Your style of travel may completely differ from one trip to the next.
So as you travel on each trip you will need to reassess to find different ways on how you are going to keep your travel packing light.
Here are seven ways you can find to reduce your packing.
The Size of The Luggage
Basically, the bigger your suitcase the more you will put into it. Many years ago I gleefully bought a really huge suitcase thinking now I can take all sorts of clothing. Well, you know what? I never wore all that clothing, plus the luggage was so big that when it was full it weighed more than the Occupational Health and Safety standard of 32 kg. This meant that I would then have to repack my luggage before I could check-in and possible pay excess luggage fees. Let me tell you it’s no fun sitting on the floor at the airport repacking your luggage.
So to start you on your way with packing light choose a smaller piece of luggage.
Top Trip Tip: To help even further with packing light for travel choose a lightweight piece of luggage
Over the years I have travelled for different lengths of time – backpacking for six months, two-week luxury vacations, four-day getaways. As the length of my travel time has altered I have noticed that how much I pack is reflected by how long I travel. This does not mean the longer I travel the more I pack in my suitcase. Actually, it is quite the opposite, the longer I am away the less I pack.
When I backpacked for six months around Europe I only took enough clothes for three days. I hand-washed daily. I never saw the same people for more than a few days so what did it matter that the same T-shirt came out every three days. The added bonus – is fewer items packed to carry on my back.
These days I tend to take two-week vacation breaks. I don’t have two weeks’ worth of clothes but I do have a week’s worth. So I pack for a week and do a wash at the laundrette mid-trip. These holidays are all about having a break from life and that includes the housework, so I’m not interested in daily hand washing.
Top Trip Tip: To pack less pack according to your length of travel. Grab one of these nifty handwashing tools* so you can pack fewer clothes
Get more tips on how to…
Type of Trip
As you can start to see the type of holiday you have planned will affect what you pack in your luggage.
When backpacking you may only want a minimal amount of things to carry. Possibly you are doing more adventurous activities and on the go daily. Compare this to a resort holiday or cruise where you are likely to be relaxing throughout the day with the occasional sightseeing day, then need a selection of different items to wear in the evenings.
Top Trip Tip: Choose items of clothing to match your planned activities day and night
Even though you may want a different outfit for each day, the trick is to condense that amount of clothing, shoes and accessories into one suitcase. The answer to how to pack less is learning to mix and match your travel wardrobe.
Instead of dresses choose skirts/pants and tops. Look at skirts with several colours, then plain coloured tops and scarves. Or the other way around – plain skirts/pants with colourful tops. Choose one pair of dress shoes that will go with all outfits. Try using a scarf to eliminate the need for jewellery or just take one multicoloured necklace to jazz up your plain tops.
If you are really trying to save space/weight in your travel bag consider:
- reversible jackets and skirts (then you only need to pack one of each)
- scarves/pashminas for warmth and accessorising
- pants that zip off at the knees to become shorts (just remember to zip the bottom half back on for the wash so it all fades at the same rate).
Top Trip Tip: Mix and match your travel wardrobe
You will only need one basic first aid kit for the entire travelling party plus personal medications. Then start to look at sharing toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, insect repellent and sunscreen.
Top Trip Tip: Only pack one item of anything you can share with your travel companion
Travel Size Toiletries
Of course, consider how long you are travelling for or how often you will use that product during your holiday. For example, if you need to wash your hair daily for two weeks – the small travel size won’t last the time away, but you don’t need the bulky value version instead, try buying the smaller bottles to lighten your travel bag.
Top Trip Tip: Buy travel-size items or create your own to add to your toiletries list
Check What is Supplied by Your Accommodation
One final thing to check before you pack your travel bag – look at what your accommodation provides. Most vacation accommodations provide hairdryers, shower gel, and moisturiser (OK I admit it’s possibly not the best quality) but hey we’re trying to lighten your travel bag 🙂
Lastly, don’t forget that they do have shops at your destination so you can always buy them when you get there.
Top Trip Tip: Pack less by leaving any items that you accommodation supplies at home
Look I still make mistakes and pack items I don’t wear or use throughout my trip. But this packing light thing is a learning curve – it always will be. Life circumstances are ever-evolving, and continually changing, as such the editing and culling of your travel packing list will forever alter as you try to lighten the load.
If you are looking for the ultimate packing checklist Go HERE. You can even download and print your own copy.
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