Have I ever told you how much I love my readers? Well, I do! And I really enjoy writing my Readers’ Request installments. They always arise out of some other post I’ve written, and they’re always great ideas. Like this post’s suggestion—my top tips on how to pack light.
I am a master travel packer. Just ask the #AdventurePartnerForLife. I can pack an entire week’s clothes in a regular-sized book bag without abandoning any basic hygiene practices. Disclaimer: If you’re a high-maintenance luxury traveler, this article probably isn’t for you.
Why Pack Light?
Global Debauchery’s travels usually involve some serious schlepping. We don’t typically stay in one location for very long. We’re constantly packing for road trips. We tend to do a lot of walking, and take a lot of buses and trains. You do not want to pack more than you can carry for a solid distance. It’s imperative you pack light.
Even if the backpacking/flashpacking lifestyle isn’t for you, there are one thousand reasons to start packing light today—cost and convenience being two major factors, but, let’s be honest, you really don’t need half the sh*t you bring with you, anyway.
Random people in Country X are not going to remember that girl, who wore those shoes, that weren’t perfect for that outfit. Sorry. They’re just not. When was the last time you even wore that shirt? Do you really need multiple outfits for a single day? Is that sweater, that you wore over your t-shirt, actually dirty after one day? Are you going to die if you don’t have those pants in your life for a whole week? Nope, nope, nope. (Don’t be so dramatic; you’re not going to die.)
These questions aside, I truly believe a lot of people think they’ll legitimately use everything they’re packing only to find upon their return they haven’t worn half of it. The secret here? Lay everything out, and then reduce it by a third. At least. Don’t nix functional items, like your raincoat, but focus on standard tops and bottoms. And especially shoes. Step one of how to pack light.
For a weeklong trip (5–7 days), I usually bring three pairs of pants (one pair that I’m wearing), a few t-shirts, a set of PJs, all the necessary skivvies, a pullover of some kind, a jacket of some kind, and two pairs of shoes (one pair on my feet). Yes, it all fits in a single book bag. Yes, I can wear a pair of pants more than once before declaring them dirty.
3. Pack Layers
I practice the art of layering, which means the bulkier items like pullovers and jackets can be whittled down to a bare minimum since I’m wearing another, much less bulky shirt underneath that can be switched out. (And this really is one of the clothing items you’ll want to switch out, amiright?)
4. Wear Your Bulky Items
Wear your sneakers through security and carry your jacket if they take up too much space or if you’re just shy of making everything fit in a single bag.
5. Roll Your Clothes
I’m also pro-roller. You’d be surprised how much space you can save and what things you can fit into that last corner of free space in your bag. Some folks say rolling your clothes helps prevent wrinkles as well.
6. Travel-Size Everything
Yes, steal those free toiletries and save them for your next trip! Then have housekeeping give you refills every day for on-site use so you don’t have to bring shampoo and conditioner at all. Travel size your toothpaste, your deodorant, your hairbrush, your perfume. Travel-size it all. Even your make-up. You’ll find you can get most of your bathroom items into one or two security-friendly Ziploc bags.
7. Digitize Everything
In today’s day and age, there’s no reason to bring physical books or magazines that take up space; download it on your iPad. There’s no reason to bring travel games, or even a notebook. Digitize as much as humanly possible because you’ll definitely be bringing your phone or tablet. And while you’re at it, consider opting for earbuds over full headphones, just for the week.
The beauty of certain types of book bags and packs is that you can secure items to the outside of them. Some bags, like the Osprey Fairview 55, even have smaller, detachable packs. These are great for day trips since you can just unclip them and take them out for a tour. They save space and help keep your bag organized. I have the Osprey Porter 46 shown here. It’s a carry-on size and is larger than a standard book bag, but smaller than a full pack.
If you’re a chronic over-packer, give these ideas a try just once. You’ll be surprised (and delighted!) and you’ll save cash on those ridiculous baggage fees. Don’t forget to check out my favorite travel apparel and gear, either.
Do you have any great space-saving ideas or packing tips? Comment away! I look forward to hearing them and adding them to my packing tactics.