Wondering how to travel light? Check out these practical tips to packing light that will save time, money, and from chaotic experiences while traveling.
When I had just started traveling, I had a different definition of packing light. For my trip to Egypt that was going to last for 10 days, I packed items that a light packer could use for like 2 months.
The more I traveled, the more I learned how to pack light. I’ll admit I still pack a few things that I consider essential but others might not need but I’ve generally improved my packing techniques that I can now call myself a light packer.
Yeah, my friends can testify to that, because when we travel together for a couple of days, they are always suffering with their huge backpacks as I am just rolling with a small travel daypack (you can actually shop my favorite daypack from here) and they wonder how I have everything I need.
But before we look at the tips to packing light, let’s look at some of the endless advantages of packing light for travel.
Advantages of packing light for travel
Other than just carrying a lightweight travel backpack, packing light comes with a lot of benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked.
- It is easy to use public transportation when you travel light. Instead of hiring a private taxi to accommodate your 5 suitcases, if you have just one suitcase or backpack, you can easily sit with it while using public transportation.
- There are minimal to zero chances of paying for extra baggage when you pack light. Actually, you’re less likely to exceed the required kgs of the airline if you pack light hence saving some money.
- Fewer chances of losing your stuff. When you travel with so many things, you’re likely to forget somethings to wherever you travel to. But if you packed light, it would be easy to remember everything you packed in the first place so the chances of losing some of your stuff are less likely.
- If you’re traveling by plane, packing light will help you spend less time at the airport during check-in. I mean whoever wants to spend unnecessary time at the airport check-in point because you carried so many things including some that you don’t need. Yes, you don’t need a lot of stuff, you just haven’t realized it yet.
- Not giving a huge tip out of guilt to someone who helped you carry an overly heavy bag.
I could spend the entire day telling you why you should start packing and traveling light but since you came to this post to find out how to actually pack light, let’s get to it.
Related post: Best airport tips and tricks to make your travels easier
Tips to packing light
1. Use a lightweight travel backpack
The number one tip to packing light is to actually use a light travel backpack. There will be no point in packing light if the backpack you’re using is heavy itself.
The lightweight travel back I recommend is the Osprey backpack. You can buy it from here if you don’t have it yet
2. Use one sizeable backpack/ suitcase instead of many
Using one sizeable backpack for travel will help you pack light instead of using many small bags.
And by all means, if you get a big backpack, no question about that, you will fill it up. But since the ultimate goal is to pack light, get one sizeable backpack that will just fit all that you need.
This is commonly known as one bag travel and it is great when it comes to traveling light.
3. Pack only the necessities not what you might need.
Instead of packing all the unnecessary stuff, make some research about what you’ll need in that particular place.
There is so much information on the internet, so many packing lists for almost every country and city. Read them so that you know exactly what to pack.
But if you’re just packing for a hostel stay, this packing list for a hostel, has everything you need to pack and what you should leave home before you go.
And if you’re traveling for 2 weeks, here is another post on how to pack for 2 weeks in just a carry-on.
But if you’re just going away for a weekend trip, here is the best packing list for a weekend getaway to help you pack only the essentials.
Related post: Camping tips and hacks for beginners
4. Use packing cubes.
This is by far one of the best smart packing tips and also the most efficient way to pack light for a trip.
Using packing cubes will not only keep your backpack organized but will also help you dictate how and what to pack.
If you get yourself these packing cubes; they come in 4 pieces, which means everything you pack should be able to fit in the 4 packing cubes.
The best packing technique here would be to allocate each category of items to a specific packing cube.
For example, one for t-shirts/tops, one for bottoms and underwear and others like that.
5. Take advantage of the travel scales
There is no way you will know that you’ve packed light unless you actually know how much your luggage weighs.
So instead of waiting to reach the airport and find out how many kgs your luggage weighs (in which case it might be too late and you’ll need to pay for extra baggage), why not use a travel scale to find out.
You don’t have to buy the most expensive travel scale on the market, buy this relatively cheap travel scale and it will just do fine.
The other technique while packing for a trip would be to dictate the maximum weight your luggage should be.
As soon as the maximum weight is reached, that should be the end of your packing.
Or try to remove the unnecessary items you might have packed first to create room for the much-needed stuff.
This will help you pack light and eventually travel light on your highly anticipated trip.
Related post: Best tips for traveling on a budget
6. Don’t pack bulky items if there is a compressible substitute
We all know there are some essential travel items that can turn out to be bulky, so instead of opting for the bulky ones, why not go for the compressible options.
The best example here is an empty bottle- it is a travel essential item that you should carry but instead of packing this bulky water botter, why not buy this collapsible one that will save you plenty of space in your travel bag.
However, as you pack light, it doesn’t mean leaving behind the essential travel essentials. So here are some of the travel essentials you should pack.
Travel Essentials you should never leave home.
– A universal travel adapter: Since different countries use different adapters, I’d advise you to buy one universal travel adapter to cater for all regions.
You can buy one from here if you don’t have it yet.
– A power Bank: One of the things you should never leave behind while traveling is the Powerbank!
Phones have now become a great deal of our lives that we need to use them for so many important things.
So take a power bank with you so that you don’t run out of battery. This power bank is small, light, and has the capability to charge your phone and other devices multiple times.
– Microfibre travel towel – I always opt for this microfibre travel towel because it is super lightweight, easy to wash, and dries easily.
– First Aid kit: Regardless of where you’re traveling to, you’ll need to pack a First Aid kit for emergencies that might arise while traveling.
Remember it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Just make sure that the one you pack has all the essentials and that it is small and light enough to fit in any kind of suitcase/ backpack.
This first aid kit actually fits all the qualities mentioned above plus it is really cheap for what it offers.
– Collapsible water bottle: I always prefer carrying a water bottle while traveling so that I can just refill it when I run out of water.
It also helps be a responsible traveler since you won’t have to use tones of disposable plastic bottles which are not great for our environment.
Any water bottle can work but I prefer this collapsible one as it doesn’t take a lot of space in my bag.
7. Do not pack a hundred books to read while you travel.
If you’re all about reading while you travel, buying an E-reader will save tonnes of space in your backpack.
Books are heavy and take up a great deal of space yet you can still have your favorite books on an e-reader like an Amazon Kindle.
Save all that space and travel light by shopping an Amazon Kindle from here.
8. Pack fewer shoes! 3 types of shoes should be enough.
Shoes are items that take up most of the space in a backpack and on top of that, they are heavy making the entire backpack heavier than it should be.
On my very first trip, I packed over 5 pairs of shoes (Yes I was a terrible packer and I still wonder why I carried all those shoes that I ended up not even wearing).
Now that I know better, I carry only 3 pairs and they are always enough and much needed.
I pack my favorite Nike sneakers for general traveling and trekking (they are also the ones I wear while flying so that they don’t take up any space in my backpack).
I pack these flip flops for just an evening when I am tired of the sneakers and want my feet to get some air.
Finally, I also pack showering slippers, I only pack them when I know that I will be sleeping at a hostel because I know they don’t provide any.
But if I am to stay at a hotel, I don’t bother packing them because in most cases, the hotels provide slippers and even if they don’t, I will most likely have a private shower so that shouldn’t be a problem.
But if you don’t have sandals, I recommend buying yourself a pair of from here.
Related post: Tips for staying in a hostel for the first time
9. Don’t pack your most heavy clothes, wear them instead
This is one of the most underlooked packing tips for traveling light that you should take into consideration.
Rather than packing the fancy heavy jacket that you insisted on taking, why not wear it on your flight.
To be honest, you might sweat a bit while at the airport, but as soon as you reach the plane, you won’t even realize it since the temperatures are much cooler inside.
This will leave you plenty of space in your travel bag for other essential items.
Related post: Step by step guide to planning a trip
10. Pack clothes that can be recycled.
Yes, there is something called “recycling clothes” if you haven’t heard about it.
Instead of packing white jeans that you wear once and they get dirty immediately, why not carry these outdoor convertible pants, that you can wear even up to 3 times in a row and will still look ok (they can as well be converted into shorts btw).
If you’re a cleanliness junkie, you can still carry these exact pants but give them a space of 1 to 2 days without wearing them.
This means 2 or 3 of those pants will be enough for you, leaving you plenty of space in your suitcase/backpack. Shop the outdoor research pants on Amazon from here.
11. Carry a microfibre travel towel instead of the normal cotton towel.
Microfibre travel towels are lightweight and weigh 10 times less than the ordinary cotton towels.
They not only dry fast when washed but are also lightweight – this will save you a great deal of space in your bag hence traveling light. This is the microfibre travel towel I recommend to pack instead of the “ordinary ones”
12. Pack light clothes that can easily be washed from anywhere.
While traveling, you’re likely to run out of clean clothes. So instead of carrying so many clothes because you don’t want to do laundry, why not carry clothes that can easily be washed and dry easily.
If you stay at hostels or travel in African countries, you’re likely to get laundry services at a really low price but if you choose to stay in a pricey hotel where laundry services literally cost an arm, you’re most likely better off doing your own laundry and that’s when packing easy to wash clothes can be to your advantage.
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13. Cut down on the toiletries.
I agree toiletries are some of the essential things to pack while traveling but this doesn’t mean that you need all of them.
This is most common in women – we tend to overpack toiletries. So to make sure you just carry only the essential toiletries, why not buy a toiletries kit from here with everything you’ll need while traveling or get this sizeable TSA approved toilet bag to keep in your toiletries.
14. Cut down on the beauty cosmetics and accessories.
Who doesn’t want to take Instagram perfect photos with accessories to amplify the look while traveling?
With that, you might just end up taking your full makeup kit, the entire jewelry box, your mega nail polish box just to glam up while you travel.
But the amount of space they take up in your travel bag can be filled up with items you’ll actually need. So instead, pack a few cosmetics and accessories from each category.
15. Prepare your mind to be comfortable with less
If you’re used to having access to literally everything you need at a snap of your fingers, packing light starts with preparing your mind to be comfortable even when you don’t have everything you’re used too back at home.
If you learn that you won’t need all the designer bags and shoes you own to have an amazing trip, you’ll not pack them and this will eventually result in packing light.
If you use all these travel packing tips and tricks, you will be able to travel light for your upcoming trip.
More travel tips to help you plan your trip
- Things to do at the airport on a long layover
- Useful travel tips for first-time flyers
- Must-know tips for first-time flyers
- How to survive a long flight in economy
- Things to do before traveling abroad
- Things not to do when you travel
- Best backpacking tips for beginners
- Best hiking tips for beginners
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