Let it go! The freedom of packing light

Tips to help you pack lighter for any vacation.


I’ve learned the advantage of traveling with a single carry-on bag and one personal item for trips that are up to eleven days (I haven’t taken a trip longer than that yet, but I think I can do it for two 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.

Travel bags
I’ve used the bag on the left and the laptop bag for 11 days so far.

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. Most Airbnb’s have one, or 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.


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, like this one from Skyway. I take dresses that don’t wrinkle, like jersey material so I can use a regular bag. I also carry a suit in my laptop bag for business trips. It fits!

Suit and laptop

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 laptop bag that can fit my makeup bag and a small purse, or I fit the makeup bag in the purse to save space. Backpacks are great options because they can hold a lot more than other personal bags and will still fit under the seat.

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




  1. Rolling clothes up is a good idea! I don’t have any tips for packing light as I normally don’t have a lot to carry with me. (I would buy things wherever I land.)

    I heard packing cubes were super useful!

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