The freedom of traveling light

Manarola, Cinque Terre
Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

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. Packing light is especially advantageous when you’re traveling alone and don’t have someone else to help take things around.

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

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.

Bring layers rather than a bulky coat. The same T-shirt that you’d wear when it’s warm can be worn a layer if it gets chilly at night. Pack less of your heavy layers. Sweaters or thicker 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. Organize your clothes well and pack them in tightly. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them will maximize space and minimize wrinkles.

Tumi Carry-On Suit Bag Packed
Tumi Carry-On Suit Bag Packed

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. To pack a suit I use a carry-on that doubles as a folding suit bag and has some compartments (Skyway carries one).

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.

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.

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.

Tumi Laptop Bag
My Tumi backpack

There are some more travel clothing tips in a joint post Samantha and I wrote.

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



  1. This picture caught my eye! It is now on my growing Bucket List! We love to travel. Great tips! I tried to start a travel section on my blog but ahhhh, it never went anywhere.. nice work Ms and Mr Fabulous!

    1. Cinque Terre is extremely beautiful. All 5 towns have amazing sites! It takes awhile sometimes to document the journey. I still haven’t had the time to write a full post on one place I’ve traveled in detail. I have to try that next! And thank you 🙂

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