Hands up if you’re guilty of overpacking every time you go on a trip. It’s hard to travel light, right?
I know that my hand is definitely up.
Packing light is essential for any well-seasoned traveller, and for you. Just by packing light, you can improve your whole travel experience by a significant amount.
I think we can all agree that it’s ridiculously time-consuming to figure out what to pack in your luggage. Travelling should be fun and you should be able to enjoy the whole process. But, stress finds its way through in the form of trying to pack light but ultimately failing.
It can be so easy to overpack if you have no idea what to bring or you want to cover all bases. Lugging around 2 or 3 heavy pieces of luggage at the airport is definitely no picnic.
Eliminate ‘what ifs’
The biggest obstacle standing in your way of packing light is definitely the ‘what ifs’.
- ‘What if the temperature suddenly drops and I need my puffer jacket?’
- ‘What if I can’t do laundry and run out of clean clothes to wear?’
- ‘What if I go to dinner and need to curl my hair on the trip?’
Of course, there is always the possibility that these ‘what ifs’ will become ‘what nows’, but will they really impact your experience that much?
It can be really easy to get caught up in this mentality and end up packing your suitcase full of things you don’t really need. Most of the time, you’ll return from your trip having never taken half the items out of your luggage.
To prevent this from happening, make a packing list for yourself.
Make a packing list (and keep it small)
It can be so easy to lose track of all the items you planned to pack and end up bringing either too much or forgetting something important.
Making a packing list is a great way to list out all the basic necessities that you need to bring. Once you have those basic necessities, then you can build on it.
You can add accessories, bolder patterns and colours, evening wear etc. But, only do this IF you have space left in your suitcase after packing everything else. Otherwise, you’ll just end up back where you started.
Tip: Use my free travel planning printable to make your packing list by signing up to my newsletter down below!
Use a small suitcase
Everyone has a tendency to fill what they’ve got.
If you use a large suitcase from the beginning, then you’ll inevitably feel the urge to fill it up. No one wants to check-in a piece of luggage that’s only half full in case it gets damaged.
Start with a small suitcase and pack all of your necessities into it. Leave enough room for your toiletries and any last-minute items.
If at this moment in time, you already have a bulging suitcase, then you might want to size up your suitcase. However, only use a suitcase ONE size larger, don’t jump from a small suitcase straight to a large suitcase.
Making this process gradual will help you keep a clearer head and allow you to ultimately travel light.
Use packing cubes
Packing light doesn’t necessarily mean packing less.
Back when packing cubes first became “the new thing”, I simply refused to use them. But now that I’ve given in and tried them out, I can honestly say that they have changed the way I travel forever.
Those things are ridiculously convenient and they save me so much space in my suitcase.
I generally like to bring two packing cubes on each trip that I take. One large and one small. I put all of my clothes/outerwear in the larger one and undergarments in the smaller one.
By rolling my clothes first and then organising them into the packing cube, I can fit so much more and save a lot more space in my suitcase.
If you want to be able bring more with you without sacrificing space, then you definitely need to try them out.
Packing cubes also make it really convenient to take something out of your suitcase without ruining the neat folding you spent hours on.
Pack only the bare necessities for toiletries, the rest you can buy at your destination
Depending on your personal routine, toiletries can be one of the most annoying things to pack. If you want to pack it in your luggage, it’ll take up a lot of room, and if you want to take it with you in your carry-on, there’s probably a restriction or limit on the liquids.
Nearly every country and city in the world has its own version of a convenience store. If you forget something back home or you just don’t want to pack it, there’s a very high chance that you’ll be able to purchase it at your destination.
This way, not only can you save space and travel light, but you can also stress less. Which, of course, is a win-win situation.
Bring travel-size toiletries
It can be tempting to just throw your regular toiletries into a bag and be done with it. However, if you’re flying international or want to travel light, it’s a good idea to bring travel-size toiletries.
Because travel-size toiletries tend to be a little on the pricey side, you may want to buy reusable travel-size bottles and fill them yourself.
These will make it easier for you to save space in your luggage and get through customs faster.
Limit your entertainment – less is more
Entertainment can take up a lot of space in your luggage, especially if you like to bring books on your trips. A great way to combat this is to bring an e-reader instead.
With an e-reader such as the Kindle, you can bring hundreds of books along on your trip and it’ll take up even less space than one paperback!
There’s also the danger of possibly damaging any entertainment you bring along, whether it be books, board games or anything that can potentially be crushed.
I, personally, bring my Kindle with me wherever I go because I always need a book with me. If you’re like me and you get bored easily, then the Kindle is a great investment.
How to Bring Less Clothing
Start with your basics
When choosing which items of clothing to pack, start with your basics. For example, t-shirts, shorts, pants, pyjamas. These are the items of clothing that you’ll definitely wear because they’re simple and easy to layer.
Once you have your basics down pat, then you can add onto them. You can add hats, scarves, bold or colourfully printed outerwear, occasionwear, shoes. But, of course, limit these extra items to the space you have left in your suitcase after packing your basics.
Only pack colours that compliment each other
To limit the items of clothing you bring, try to only pack colours that compliment each other. This way, if all the colours can be worn together, you have unlimited outfits you can put together.
It can also save you a lot of time each morning deciding what to wear so you can spend more time sightseeing and enjoying yourself.
Then, of course, your photos will look much more cohesive and be a lot more instagrammable.
Make sure each piece you bring can be part of at least 2 outfits
The easiest way to save space in your suitcase is to make sure that all the items of clothing you bring can be worn more than once.
Try to bring those clothing pieces that can be paired easily, for example, t-shirts and jeans, and not those that have to be worn a specific way.
Of course, you can also bring one or two occasion outfits, but make sure that they are made with fabric that is wrinkle-resistant and doesn’t take up too much space.
Only pack pieces that you wear often and will reach for
It’s also important to make sure that everything in your suitcase has its purpose and is not just there to take up space.
You may want to be adventurous in your clothing choices and bring some more ‘unique’ pieces, but the reality is that you’ll most likely reach for your comfortable pieces. No one wants to be pinched and poked by their clothing while they’re trying to be a tourist.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to travel light. By changing up a few things in your packing routine, you can improve your whole experience and be able to enjoy yourself more.