Sometimes packing for a trip can be more stressful than actually traveling. There's the back and forth decisions on what you need, what you want to bring, and how to organize it all. Thanks to airlines constantly increasing their regulations and fees, travelers have more incentive than ever to pack as lightly and efficiently as possible.
Packing light doesn't just help you avoid baggage fees; in fact, carrying less is easier on your back, gives you increased mobility, and more space to pick up souvenirs along the way. Here are some simple tips to help you pack light.
It's the most obvious solution, but an important one to consider. Some suitcases have such a heavy interior structure that they weigh you down before you even pack a single thing. Consider investing in a suitcase made of lightweight materials to give yourself an advantage from the start. Many companies offer special lightweight versions of their suitcases made with aluminum, carbon fiber, and lighter fabrics.
You may also want to think about downgrading the size of your suitcase. A smaller bag helps you sidestep the temptation to pack everything under the sun and makes you really think about what you're bringing along.
Last minute panic-packing almost always leads to bringing too much of one thing and completely forgetting something else. Give yourself plenty of time to pack and think carefully about what situations you will encounter on your trip and what you will need. If you can, write it all down. Be honest: don't pack gym clothes unless you're actually positive you'll work out, and don't pack a fancy dress unless you know precisely when you'll wear it.
Clothing that can pull double duty is worth its packing weight in gold when you want to pack light. Fill your suitcase with items that can go from day to evening, t-shirts that can double as workout clothing and shoes that will fit more than one event. Pack simple clothes and dress them up with accessories like cardigans, scarves, and statement jewelry.
As you create this capsule wardrobe of multiple wear items, avoid clothing and shoes that can only be worn once or that need to be dry-cleaned.
Full size toiletries can really weigh your bag down quickly (and disqualify you from carry-on status). Consider replacing all of your full-sized shampoos, body washes, hairsprays, and more with small travel-size versions. You can pick these up at any drug store or buy a reusable set of tubes and fill them with your favorite products yourself.
When in doubt, remember that whatever your destination, they probably have drugstores too. You can always buy more shampoo or toothpaste as you go.
The last tip is a classic tip for travelers who want to pack light, particularly those traveling to colder climates. Always wear your heaviest items of clothing on the plane. Wearing your jeans, heavy jackets, and boots can save a massive amount of room in your suitcase without requiring you to sacrifice what you bring. If you're not willing to wear it on the plane consider whether you really need to bring that item at all.
If you follow these guidelines you will pack light and have an excuse to pick up a few more souvenirs on the way home!
Editor-in-Chief and owner of Twenty-Something Travel, Stephanie Yoder, is a contributor for TripIt’s blog. In 2010, Stephanie left her office job to become a freelance writer and blogger. Stephanie has spent time living in China, Argentina and Mexico. Married to a fellow travel blogger, Stephanie’s life is full of adventure and new places. With a natural itch to be on the move, she had dedicated her life to traveling and sharing her adventures with the world.