So, you want to travel light? Packing light comes with a lot of perks. You never pay for excess baggage, you no longer wait at the baggage counter and you get to walk around with ease. Traveling light sets you free from the stress of handling a bulky bag and let you enjoy your travel experience better.
The tips below will let you reap the benefits of travelling light:
Many people find it hard to pack light for their trips because of one simple reason: they pack their things at the last minute. Packing light is an art that requires a lot of thought, planning and effort to bring out the best results. You need to lay things in a way that allows you to assess the ones you need and the ones that you don’t. Packing your things a few hours before your departure makes it almost impossible to pack lightly because you become too stressed about the time that you can’t figure out what items are essential; hence you just stuff everything into your bag.
You need to start packing your things at least a few days before your flight schedule. By packing ahead of time, you can put all your energy into packing efficiently instead of just stuffing up your bag to get to the airport on time.
While wheeled luggage seem to be the best option when travelling because of the convenience it offers, you may have to ditch it. Though it may seem counter-intuitive at first, wheels tend to influence you into packing more things into your bag just because the space can accommodate it. Since people tend to fill the space they have, the simplest way to pack less is to give yourself less space to work with. It would be better to use a backpack or a duffel bag when your goal is to travel light.
As an added benefit, lightweight duffel bags allow you to traverse a variety of terrains like when you are traveling to places where there are no proper foot paths or streets where you can run your wheeled luggage, or when you have to go train stations where there would be a lot of stairs.
Travelling light requires sacrifices. You can’t bring your entire wardrobe just to account for all possible situations; instead make a list of the clothes that you often use. These clothes must match the purpose of your travel (i.e. business or personal).
Making a list of the things that you want to pack inside your bag helps you to identify what’s necessary and what’s not.
A caveat for this tip is if you travel for less than a week, just pack the clothes you need for that duration; otherwise, if you are travelling for a week, two weeks, or a month, or for how long you’d like, a packing list that is good for a week is usually enough. A week’s worth of clothes is the easiest to visualize and manage. Again, when making this list, be sure to bring the clothes that you often use on an average week.
Packing for a week when you are travelling for more than a week means that you would have to do laundry from time to time. You have two options on ding this: on shorter trips, you can hand wash the basic items like underwear, socks and shirt in the sink of your hotel or on longer trips, you can opt to use a cheap wash-and-fold service. The cost of doing laundry is always cheaper than the cost of checking a bag at the airport and you get to experience your travel with little to no physical and mental stress.
When traveling in cold weather or across multiple climates, you’re going to need to pile on the layers. But instead of stacking heavy sweaters which could take up a lot of space in your bag, pack thermal gears and thin sweaters. Packing multiple thin layers takes up less space and offers more flexibility than packing bulky items like sweaters and coats If you are travelling in a city with a variable weather (i.e. cold mornings, warm afternoon and chilly nights), you can wear a t-shirt, a base layer and a jacket in the morning, remove the two outer layers in the afternoon and put them back on during the night.
Packing in layers offers this level of flexibility while saving some space for the other things you need. When you can’t avoid bringing something bulky, like a winter coat or a pair of boots, don’t pack them but wear them on your way to your destination. A better approach would be to buy a cheap one when you land and then sell or donate it after. You can also use this principle for packing shoes, wear the bulky ones and pack the light ones.
One essential tip to packing light is to pack clothes that you can mix and match. In order to do this, try not to pack in clothes with colors that are hard to coordinate with. A safer way of approaching this is to pack neutral colors like white, gray, black and brown. You pack pieces instead of the entire outfit which means you get to produce more looks from your light baggage.
For example, when you pack in four tops and four bottom wears that you can perfectly mix and match, you end up with 16 different outfits. Another tip when packing these outfits is to not roll them nor put them in vacuum bags. It may sound unreasonable since most blogs on packing light tells you to roll your clothes, but rolling them may tempt you into stuffing in more. The end goal is to travel light, not travel small and heavy.
If you plan on bringing toiletries, bring those that are in small containers or the “travel-size” variety which are readily available in supermarkets. When you can’t find those kinds, you can opt to buy small plastic canisters and put your lotion, alcohol, shampoo, etc. in there. Buy a separate bag and put all those small canisters together for easy access.
If there is an app for it, then you don’t need to pack it inside your bags. You can use your phone for when you want to read novels, navigate, check you flight details, listen to music, take photos or in almost anything. It is also a good idea to scan all of your documents and store them in the cloud or any online drive service for emergencies. Most smart phones these days offer so much and all you need to do is to maximize its potential.
While it is tempting to buy a large jar of a certain delicacy or a couple of native wear from where you are travelling, it is always better to limit yourself to just the small souvenirs like a key chain or a fridge magnet. This way, all your weight-saving efforts prior to departing will not just go down the drain. Besides, photos captured by your smart phone can still make the best mementos and the best part is they are free.
These are just some of the tips to keep your travel light. The basic principles of these tips is to do without a few comforts for the duration of your trip. Every travel is about the journey and not the destination, so the more you travel and apply these tips, the more you’ll be surprised on how little you really need to bring to fully enjoy that journey.
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