Learn how to pack light for your next trip with these tried and tested tips and strategies!
As wonderful as traveling is, there is one thing that I have a love-hate relationship with that I don’t think I will go away: packing. I am a person who loves to be prepared. however, being prepared in under 50 lb can be tricky. It’s even trickier if you try to fit it into a carry-on! which is why I had a goal a few years ago to really learn how to pack efficiently. inefficient packing led me to come home with a quarter of the clothes in my suitcase not even touched! that is such wasted space! So having made all of the packing mistakes, let me share with you all of the tips to help you pack light for your next trip and be able to focus on what really matters: having fun!
This post is all about tips to pack light for a trip!
How to Pack Light
You may be wondering what the purpose of packing light is. Why does it matter? Let me tell you why! The more you pack, the more you have to carry around. If you’re flying, having more things may mean more weight, which leads to more fees. If you’re driving around, having more things will lead to more bags and less space. It gets pretty inconvenient!
Not only is it about convenience though, but it’s also about finding that balance between bringing what you want and what you need without overpacking. Packing light is just about getting you down to the essentials so that you are comfortable on your trip without the excess that comes from overpacking! So let’s talk about how to make packing an easier experience!
Find Your Needs
It would make sense to start at the beginning, right? You can’t know what to pack if you don’t know what you need! If you are a beginner in packing light, try writing down your packing checklist! I know, this seems so basic. And time-consuming! But trust me, this will make it easier to visualize your packing because once you get that checklist written down, you’re going to go through and cross off anything that you don’t NEED. You may want it. But if you don’t need it, cross it off! Think minimalist. This will really help you narrow down your packing list to the essentials.
Here are some helpful things to consider when making your packing list:
- How long is your trip?
- What is the weather like at your destination?
- Are there any special occasions that you need to plan for?
- Do you need exercise clothes?
Choose the Right Luggage
Choosing the right luggage for your trip will go a long way in helping you pack light! Lightweight carry-ons are usually going to be the best bang for your buck for air travel for shorter trips since you can just stow them in the airplane with you and most airlines won’t charge you for them. For those that do, the fee for carry-on bags is usually cheaper than checked bags. Carry-ons are also smaller so they will really help you avoid overpacking.
For longer trips or when traveling with kids, a larger suitcase that you check in is really useful as long as you don’t let the extra space get fully filled! I mean, you want to save room for souvenirs right?
Another helpful tool to help in the luggage department is packing cubes. It’s amazing how much you can fit in a packing cube! It also makes packing feel more organized! Some people swear by compression bags, but I’ve just had too many that stopped working for me and I’m just left with giant Ziploc-type bags. Ha. There are some compression packing cubes that you basically zip closed and then there is another zipper to make them even smaller which we also have and also recommend!
Packing Strategies to Pack Light
You’ve got your list. You’ve got your luggage. Now, let’s get to packing!
Rolling vs. Folding Clothes
This is a long debate, especially in my marriage. Josh is convinced that folding is the best way to go. I am convinced that rolling is the best. I think we are both right! Folding is great if you are trying to keep your clothes neat and organized. If you want to save space, rolling is great! This is definitely a matter of preference, but I will say this: as a proponent of rolling, if you are running out of room, try rolling some clothes and you will be amazed at how much more space is freed up.
Choose Multi-Outfit Clothes
If any of you have seen or read about capsule wardrobes, let’s get in that mindset for this one. Since you are limited in space when trying to pack light, it is helpful to choose clothes that can be worn in different ways, helping you get more outfits out of one piece of clothing. Neutral colors and basic pieces are great for travel because they allow you to mix and match to create different looks!
Choose the Right Shoes
Shoes take up so much space! Like with the clothes, try to pack shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits to cut down on space.
This sounds like I’m about to whip out a Swiss Army knife. Ha. Just try to look for things that can serve multiple different purposes when you are trying to pack light! Like if you want to bring a blanket because the plane gets cold, try to bring something that can also fulfill another purpose. So maybe bring a coat instead so you can use it as a blanket on the plane and then a coat at your destination.
Wear Your Heaviest Item
If you’re going to the beach, you’re not going to have very many heavy items. Or maybe you do! If you’re taking a trip that is going to be a little chillier, try wearing your heaviest coat or sweater to save space in your luggage and pack light!
Packing Light Tips
Now that we’ve got strategies taken care of, let’s talk about some packing tips and tricks, hacks, and all of the things to help you pack light for a trip!
For a long time, I refused to buy travel-sized toiletries. I think I was just being stubborn. Once I did though, it was a game-changer when trying to pack light!
Those little bottles free up so much room for other things! Now, granted I am really accustomed to the products I use and they aren’t always available in travel size. Thankfully, I found these great, refillable, travel-size bottles that you can put your own product into, including travel-size perfume bottles! These are great for traveling, even if you are checking a bag!
Here are my toiletry essentials and favorites!
- Toiletry bag
- Refillable travel-sized bottles
- Travel makeup brush holder
- Mini razor
- Travel perfume spray bottles
We all love the bling, but traveling with jewelry can be tricky! It can get tangled up or even broken. Getting a jewelry travel case for it is the best way to keep your jewelry safe and untangled. It took me so long to finally get one and once I did, it was one of the best things! Not only did it keep my jewelry safe, but it also made it easier for me to remember to wear it!
Electronics and Chargers
Trying to pack light sounds pretty easy up to this point, right? Well, what about packing things that are just not light in general? Electronics can get bulky! And heavy. Here are some great ways to deal with them to help you pack light!
For laptops, try to always keep them with you whether it’s in your backpack or an outside pocket of your carry-on luggage that is easy to get to. You don’t want to put it in your checked luggage! Getting a protective sleeve for it is also a great idea! It helps keep it extra safe.
For chargers, we have loved using charger cases when we try to pack light. We can put all of our phone, computer, camera, and tablet chargers. Am I missing a type of charger? Ha. We also love to bring this power bank with us. It makes it easier to charge our electronics without having to rely on finding an outlet.
Packing cameras has always been hard for me! They can get so bulky and it’s another thing to take out at security (unless you get TSA Precheck, which I highly recommend!). Ultimately, what’s worked for me when trying to pack light is to just keep them in my backpack and a case. I found this nice case for my big camera that keeps it safe during travel. For my smaller camera, I use this case. Packing cameras can be tricky, but I love the pictures I get with my nice cameras too much to not bring them!
Additional Tips for Long Trips
When going on longer trips, there are some additional things to consider that could help ease the burden of feeling like you have to overpack so you can pack light!
Do Laundry On the Go
I once went on a trip throughout Europe for 4 weeks. Can you imagine trying to pack light for 4 weeks without doing laundry? It would have been a nightmare. So I usually recommend that if you’re going on a trip longer than 10 days, plan on doing laundry if you want to pack light. On that 4-week trip, I did laundry twice. Just thought I would mention it in case that helps anyone!
If you are already planning ahead to do laundry, it will also help it not sneak up on you. We like to find Airbnbs that have a washer and dryer. If we’re staying at a hotel, we just use the hotel laundry.
Just don’t forget to bring detergent! Some places will provide some, but I don’t always recommend it. You never know what these detergents will do to your clothes. It’s also helpful to have detergent in case you need to handwash something.
Pack a Small Sewing Kit
Having a small sewing kit is a lifesaver for long trips! It’s helpful for all trips actually, but more so for longer trips where you will be wearing clothes multiple times (if you choose to do laundry). It doesn’t have to be big, but just having the basics like a needle, thread, scissors, and safety pins will allow you to make any small repairs that may come up.
We all love our souvenirs. At least, I do. So making sure that you have room in your suitcase for them is something to think about as you pack light for your trip! This was a mistake I made on my 4-week trip and I had to leave some things behind because I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase. So plan for it! Especially if you’re going somewhere that you are planning on doing some shopping.
That’s a wrap on all of my tips on how to pack light for a trip! It can get tricky and there is some preparation and planning that goes into it, but it is so worth it! Just the convenience alone is clutch. I shared a lot with you on this post, but ultimately, some things may work best! Don’t be afraid to test them out and find what works for you!