Practical Tips

How to Pack Lighter


There are many advantages to packing lighter.  The most obvious one is that you can get away with carry-on only luggage (and often cheaper airfares), at least on shorter trips or trips to tropical destinations.  Even if you still have check-in luggage, however, you can still save money if you luggage is less bulky by being able to walk or take public transport, rather than a taxi, and easily fit it on the luggage racks of long distance trains. Here are seven ideas to how to pack lighter.

1. Pack in advance

Carry-On Contents

Just enough to fit in a carry-on bag

Don’t start packing the night before the trip, but get out what you need a week or two early.  Spread everything out on your bed so you can see everything you’re planning on taking.  Do the clothes work together?  Are you packing too much of one thing?  Is there anything you need to wash before the trip?  Is there anything you’re missing that you should buy now?

2. Take your favourite clothes

Not necessarily your best clothes, but those clothes that you always firstly look for in your wardrobe, as long as they are suitable for your trip.  Now is not the time to get some wear out of items at the bottom of your wardrobe, because you’ll probably return from the trip with them still unworn, having taken up unnecessary space.

3. Pack lighter if you plan to shop

Bangkok Chinatown Shopping

Shopping in the laneways of Bangkok’s Chinatown

If shopping for clothes is an essential part of your trip, take less clothes at the start, leaving space in your travel backpack for what you’ll buy along the way.  And naturally you’ll be wanting to wear your new clothes immediately!

4. Regularly wash

Whilst hotels usually charge exorbitant prices for laundry and laundromats can be few and far between, if you’re okay with washing some of your smaller (or lighter) items of clothing in your bathroom sink every couple of nights, you can seriously cut back on what you need to pack.

5. Take only two pairs of shoes

Shoes are one of the heaviest things in that you’ll pack, and for most trips you should be able to get away with two pairs of shoes, with the heavier (or nicer) pair worn on the flight.  A sporty, beach-side holiday?  Thongs and sneakers.  Bar hopping in the tropics?  Thongs and sandals or dress shoes.  Winter city trip? Shoes suitable for walking during the day and dress shoes or boots for night.  If you can’t pair to have just two pairs of shoes, wait until you’re finished packing and add one extra pair if you have room (ideally a lightweight pair).

6. Choose lightweight tops

Whilst you can wear the same pair of jeans for multiple days in a row, it’s nice to have a number of nice tops to choose from and alternate between (especially if you’re going to be uploading snapshots regularly).  Especially if you’re travelling to a warmer destination and are happy to wash along the way, it’s handy to take lightweight, easy-drying tops.  Whilst specialist outdoor shops have plenty, also try regular shops such as Zara and Uniqlo – floaty, three-quarter-sleeved polyester tops are a great choice for women.

7. Accessorise!

Whilst not that applicable for men, accessories take virtually no extra room in your luggage and add a lot of variety to your outfits.  Avoid expensive items for most destinations (or anything you’d be heartbroken to lose or have stolen), and pack a bag of scarves, necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

Want to find out more about my packing style? Read my interview on Hippie in Heels

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