Today I want to share with you my top tips on how to travel light. As somebody who travels A LOT with both work and my leisure pursuits, I have become rather adept and quick at packing a small suitcase in just a few minutes.
It was as I was packing in a hurry for yet another weekend away recently that I realised that this has become ‘a thing’ for me and I can now pack without thinking too much about it – I have learned how to travel light!
Gone are the days when I would worry about forgetting something, write reams of lists, and panic pack loads of extras ‘just in case’ (although for longer holidays I do like to take a few sneaky extras!). Being able to travel light gives me flexibility, and I kind of like not having too much stuff to make decisions about when I’m travelling.
Now that I know how to travel light it is unlikely I will board a plane or take a long road trip with an extra large suitcase unless totally necessary.
How To Travel Light – 17 Packing Tips
1. Pack with consideration
This means, pack only what you actually know you will need and do not pack ‘just in case’. If necessary write a list of essentials you need to take and stick to it. I have a basic list in the back of my notebook to remind me what I actually need to pack for my trip.
2. One of each item
Except for underwear you only need to pack one of each item of clothing. I usually pack:
– a top for each day
(OK, if I’m going longer than a couple of days I might add a few more tops and add an extra dress. But you get the idea. It’s minimal).
3. No more than 2 pairs of shoes
Only take 2 pairs of shoes and wear one of those pairs when travelling. You need one for day and travel and one for evening or easy-going moments.
4. Double up on usage
I nearly always pack my trusty sarong which doubles up as an extra scarf, blanket, towel or even a pillow when bunched up.
Pick items that can get several uses out of them.
5. Think capsule wardrobe
Choose a neutral colour palette so that all of your clothes will match no matter the combination.
If you are not keen on the one of each option, then at least choose your clothes around a similar colour story so you can mix and match throughout your travels. I mostly wear black, white and blue with the occasional red thrown in when I’m feeling adventurous.
Pack a small handful of snazzy jewellery to dress up your simple capsule wardrobe. Accessories take up less room in your suitcase and allow you to create more looks with a neutral color palette. I usually take a two or three necklaces, a bracelet, rings, and a hat.
7. Keep toiletries to a minimum
Otherwise most hotels you stay at will provide shampoo and shower gel. If you do forget toothbrush and toothpaste you can either buy it there or your hotel might have a stash.
I receive a lot of beauty samples from events and will often save them up for my travel case. For any products I cannot do without I decant into small transparent travel bottles (I bought these bottles last summer and they’re awesome).
Also consider any products that can double up for uses. For instance, a small pot of coconut oil can be used as moisturiser, lip balm, hair mask, conditioner, heel softener and more.
8. Pack a tablet or lightweight laptop
Take just a tablet or a super lightweight laptop if necessary. As I work on the road all the time I cannot go anywhere without my MacBook Air, it’s as light as my iPad and allows me to keep working. If I’m taking a proper break then I’ll just stick to the iPad for all my entertainment needs such as reading, journalling and watching films on the plane.
9.Pack a mini bag of laundry soap
They sell these mini bags of laundry powder all over Thailand at the 7Eleven but in the UK I just decant some hand washing powder into a ziploc bag. Hotels charge a fortune to do laundry and it’s super easy to freshen up your clothes in the bathroom and just dry over the bath if necessary.
I used to travel with a portable clothes which hooked onto the ends of my bunk beds in my hostelling days. It has sooooooo many other uses including creating a makeshift privacy curtain when paired with a sarong.
10. Choose a travel towel
If you are staying in places that don’t provide towels it is worth investing in a travel towel. They pack down super small, they are fast drying and easy to store. They aren’t always as absorbent as traditional towels but they do the job.
11. Use storage options
I love using storage bags or packing cubes to keep my belongings neat within my luggage. Alternatively use a bunch of different size ziplock bags to keep your belongings together.
12. Choose small luggage
Over time I’ve realised that if I have a big suitcase I WILL fill it. My current carry-on sized suitcase in a hard shell option with wheels.
13. Avoid top-loading backpacks
On my first couple of backpacking trips I used a top-loading backpack which I do not necessarily recommend these days (of course, this is my personal preference).
Not only is it impractical for finding your belongings but it’s not really conducive to packing practically and using every space possible. I’d always pick either a suitcase or backpack that has a side opening so you can see everything as you pack.
14. Buy local
Most destinations will have shops and supermarkets for you to pick up anything you don’t take or forget. Not only is it an opportunity to go shopping but you don’t need to stress about being unprepared.
Every time I go to Thailand (which has been rather frequent) I don’t bother buying new flip-flops until I get there.
15. Multi-use gadgets
16. Choose lightweight fabrics
Choose natural lightweight fabrics with dual use. Merino wool for instance will help keep you warm in colder climates, and cooler in the warm temperatures.
17. If in doubt, halve it
And if you do worry you might have over-packed, lay out all your packed belongings on a flat surface and take away half of the clothes before re-packing. Yep. Now you are ready to travel light.
What are your top tips on how to travel light?
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