Do you really need to take it with you?

Lying in field

I’ve learned the advantage of traveling with a single carry-on bag and one personal item for trips that are up to three weeks. I don’t pay baggage fees, don’t worry about lost luggage, or need to walk around with heavy bags. Also, while others are at baggage claim, I’m leaving the airport.

People have asked me how I manage to pack so light. Here are some of my tricks.

  1. Pack a week’s worth of clothes. If you’re going for a couple of weeks or longer, you’ll have to do a little laundry. You can pay for it at the hotel or a laundromat, or wash them in your room and hang them to dry.
  2. Bring layers rather than take a thick coat. The same T-shirt that you’d wear when it’s warm can be worn a layer when it’s cold. Pack less of your heavy layers. Sweaters or thick shirts can be worn more than once if you change the shirt closest to your skin. If you need to take a jacket, bring it on the plane so it doesn’t take up space in your bag.
  3. Organize your clothes well and pack them in tightly. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them will maximize space and minimize wrinkles.
  4. If you’re going somewhere that requires a suit or gown, see if you can find a carry-on that doubles as a folding single suit bag and has some compartments.
  5. Pack clothes that coordinate with everything else you’re bringing. If it doesn’t work in multiple outfits, don’t bring it. Go simple and very light. Think of what you can do without, not what will be handy. Leave it out if you have any doubt. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants, and wear your heaviest items on the plane.
  6. Get rid of clutter. Clean up your wallet, bring an e-reader instead of books and don’t bring a large supply of personal products (deodorant, hair products, etc.). You can buy these things anywhere if you run out. It’s not like you will have to borrow or take them from someone else!
  7. In addition to a carry-on bag, airlines allow you to bring a personal item such as a laptop bag, purse or backpack. I carry a small backpack, or a laptop bag with compartments if it’s for work. Backpacks can hold a lot more than other personal bags and will still fit under the seat. For women, if you need a purse for your trip, it can also fit in your backpack, and you can fill it with some essential items so it’s not empty just taking up space.

These are some of my tips for packing light. Do you have any others?

34 replies »

  1. AGH so useful! I find packing light super hard sometimes, but I think these tips are so true. The only other one I have is about shoes. My shoes have to go with most outfits, be comfy, and I need to be able to dress them up slightly. Whenever I go on holiday my max pairs are three (flip-flops, adidas and some slightly smarter shoes). If I see my friends holding a massive bag, I can straight away tell they have loads of shoes in there because they take up so much space if I take more than three I might as well bring a bag big enough to fit my room in!
    I’ve just written a blog post on New Years Resolutions that I’d love you to check out if you have time
    Keep traveling

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I learned the tip of rolling my clothes instead of folding way too late. I just came back from a business trip and I only had a carry-on and my purse. I even had a person compliment me at the airport on how lucky I was to be traveling so light. Felt so proud of myself 😊. Love the idea of not bringing the necessary essentials that you can just buy wherever you go. Thanks so much Aldo for this great article


  3. Great tips! I DO NOT pack light! I bought so many clothes (which I didn’t actually think were too many, mind you) for my upcoming trip, and when I actually looked at the size of my bag and what I could fit… well… some things are going to have to be left behind!

    Liked by 1 person

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