Packing is one of the biggest areas where newbie travelers make mistakes. The tendency to pack as much as possible is there, but the result is an annoyingly heavy suitcase and, often, major fines to pay with the airline. So learning how to pack light is an essential skill if you plan on doing a lot of traveling.
When it comes to packing light, there are a few simple practices you can follow to avoid stuffing your bags with too much. It doesn’t mean you have to go without the essentials—it just means being smart about what you bring and how you bring it. Check out these 10 clear and easy tips for packing light.
10 Write Down What You Need In A List
Most seasoned travelers will tell you that working with a list is the single best thing you can do while packing. If you plan ahead what you’re going to pack, and you commit to sticking to what you’ve got on your list, you’re far less likely to over-pack.
It’s tempting to browse through your closet and pull out all the things you think you’ll need, but this method of packing more often than not results in a completely overstuffed suitcase. You’re much better off being vigilant about sticking to your carefully planned list!
9 Share Items With Travel Buddies
This one only applies if you’re traveling with other people, so you can skip it if you’re flying solo. If you are traveling with someone else, take some time before you start packing to work out what items you can share. That way you have less luggage between you.
You won’t be able to share everything, but there are some items that only one of you needs to bring. If you’re staying in the same room and you want to pack a doorstop for security, you only need to bring one between the two of you.
8 Bring Minimal Shoes
Shoes are probably the bulkiest items in any given suitcase. The fewer shoes you can get away with bringing with you, the better. That said, you don’t want to get to your destination and realize that you’ve brought one pair of flimsy shoes and they’re uncomfortable to wear. It’s worthwhile to invest in a good pair of comfortable, durable shoes that you can walk in all day.
You might also want to bring a dressier pair of shoes, and a pair of flip-flops, depending on the destination and the weather.
7 Take Your Time Packing And Don’t Rush It
Packing is an exciting thing, especially if you’ve been waiting for your trip for months (if not years). But it’s not something you want to rush through. You’ll probably want to get it all done as quickly as possible, but if you can resist speeding through, you’ll end up with a much more organized suitcase.
According to Traveller, the last thing you want to do is add stress to your packing by doing it at midnight the night before you leave, or the morning of your flight. Give yourself a few days so you can make the smartest decisions possible.
6 Rely On Hotel Amenities
For those of us who like our creature comforts, it may seem like a good idea to bring all the bathroom products we usually use at home. But if you want to pack light, you have to leave behind anything that you’ll be able to get at the hotel, including basic toiletries.
The shampoo in the hotel you’re staying at might not be as ideal for your hair as the one you have at home. But toiletries are often the heaviest part of the suitcase, so if you want to pack light, you’ll have to leave most of them at home.
5 When Traveling In Winter, Go For Lightweight Clothing
Winter is the hardest time to pack light because the clothes you need to keep warm are usually heavy and bulky. There is a way to avoid this, however, if you know what kind of winter clothes to look for. Rather than going for traditional coats, opt for thin cotton clothes instead of thick linen clothes.
You’re better off layering with a few thin options than relying on single thick ones. And travel blog Indiana Jo advises that brands like Uniqlo do have thermal options that are thin instead of thick!
4 Swap Bulky Items For Travel-Sized
If there’s anything in your suitcase that is full-sized and can be switched over for something that’s travel-sized, make that switch. This is often the case with toiletries. If you really don’t want to rely on hotel shampoo and are desperate to bring your own, try to get it in travel-size.
Other items that you can often get in a smaller size are hairdryers and electric toothbrushes. Keep in mind that many hotels do have hairdryers in the room, though they may not be as strong as what you’re used to.
3 Fold Your Clothes, Don’t Roll Them
Many seasoned travelers recommend rolling clothes over folding them in an effort to squeeze as much into the bag as possible. And it’s true—rolling instead of folding will allow you to stuff more into the suitcase. But the goal here is to pack light, not to fit as much into your luggage as you can.
By folding the clothes, they take up more space and you won’t be able to fit as much in. That means that you’ll naturally be packing lighter than you would if you were rolling.
2 Measure Your Bags With Travel Scales
Don’t leave it to the airport to find out how much your bags weigh. Unless your suitcase is really heavy or really light, it’s often hard to know whether or not it meets the airline requirements without a scale. And by the time you get to the airport, it’s too late to take things out if you’ve over-packed.
Investing in a good-quality luggage scale will help you immensely because you’ll be able to see when you have packed too much, and make adjustments. Remember, if you end up packing too much, not only will you have to lug all that around with you, but you might also be eligible for some hefty fines.
1 Wear What Won’t Fit
There’s one age-old trick that all travelers should know. If your suitcase is heavy enough but you have more to fit that you absolutely can’t cut out, wear it. Though not the most comfortable solution, especially if you’re in for a long flight, this will allow you to sneak onboard the extra items without having to carry them.
People often do this with the heaviest clothing items that they have, like a long coat or a pair of boots. Throw those things on and you solve the problem of having to carry them!