3 tricks to packing light for a trip

November 14, 2014

The dream? On THIS trip, you 'll pack light. The reality? You leave it to the last minute, chuck everything you own in a suitcase and run to the airport. It happens to everyone. Here's some advice on packing light so you can leave the kitchen sink at home.

3 tricks to packing light for a trip

1. Be prepared

Don’t procrastinate. Leaving it to the last minute is the number one enemy to packing light.

  • Different trips require different packing skills. A three-day business trip is different than a 14-day cruise, which is different than two months of backpacking in Europe.
  • Write out a checklist of what you need to bring for your SPECIFIC trip. Sticking to the list will help you pack lighter.
  • Check the weather for your destination. Remember that if rain is possible, you can buy an umbrella or cheap plastic rain poncho just about anywhere.

2. Think smaller

If you have a large suitcase or backpack, you’ll fill it up. Choose a bag that is 20 per cent smaller than you think you’ll need.

  • If you can get down to a single carry-on bag, you’ll never pay luggage fees or risk the airline losing it.
  • Plus, being able to hold your bag on your lap during a sketchy taxi or bus ride will make you feel more secure in a strange, new country.

3. Be realistic

First, lay everything you plan to pack on your bed. Examine each item carefully. Do you NEED it? Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario (i.e., it might get cold enough for mittens).

  • Pack what you know you’ll definitely use.
  • Assume that if a worst-case scenario pops up, you can buy or borrow what you need.

Next, remove half of the items from the bed before you start packing.

  • You really only need one pair of jeans. Choose dark blue in colour so they’re good for day or evening. Also make sure they’re comfortable enough for a plane ride or a night on the town.
  • Keep the number of shoes to a minimum. Take one pair that is comfortable for walking and an alternative that is as comfortable, but can be used for a slightly dressier occasion.

Choose a colour palette for your clothes and make sure everything you pack matches.

  • The colours don’t have to be boring or monochromatic, just in the same family.
  • Choose items that don’t wrinkle or need to be washed after one wear.
  • Layer instead of bringing a bulky jacket.
  • Choose moisture-wicking materials.
  • Bring a sarong, as it can be used as a blanket, skirt, pillow or scarf.

Other space-saving suggestions

  • Use apps to replace books, cameras and maps.
  • Don’t bring toiletries if they’re available for free at the hotel.
  • If you plan to do laundry, take dry detergent in a resealable bag.
  • Don’t bring a hairdryer since your hotel will likely have one.

Taking a trip where you don't have to lug around a massive suitcase will not only save your back, but you'll feel more carefree knowing that all of your belongings are safely in one small case.

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