It only took one time for an airline to lose our bag before we decided we would carry on for the rest of our lives. No matter how long the trip, we now limit our selves to one small suitcase each. We have read through a lot of practical tips such as rolling clothes or using packing cubes but at the end of the day packing light is not about “hacking” your way into more space. It is about sacrifice. We have compiled a list of 5 items you should consider sacrificing in order to pack lighter.
To start with, liquid shampoo and conditioner can’t be carried on in large quantities. The same applies to packing lotion, hairspray or other grooming products. If you are staying at a hotel, housekeeping will provide you with basic toiletries. Even if you are staying in hostels or AirBnbs you can purchase personal care items when you arrive. The other option would be to bring along a shampoo bar which will save you space (and never leak in your bag). Bottom line- if something can be found at your destination, you don’t need to waste space packing it.
2. Too Many Shoes
Wear your bulkiest pair of walking boots/sneakers with you while you travel so they don’t take up space in your suitcase. You can then pack a pair of casual but comfortable shoes for the rest of the trip. Matthew never leaves without a pair of Sperry’s and I always pack a pair of Gentle Souls by Kenneth Cole. We find that these shoes work perfect for almost everything and can be easily dressed up for evening dinners. If you are traveling on a more leisurely or warm climate trip, you can wear these casual shoes in place of boots and pack an even lighter-weight flip flop in your bag.
3. Books and Large Laptops
As a voracious reader this one is hard to come to terms with. I don’t like leaving without a good novel, but I have learned to utilize digital reading material when space is particularly tight. This also includes leaving behind guidebooks. You should always download maps for offline use or screenshot key web pages if you are worried about losing signal. These offline maps and helpful photos will work just fine on your tablet or smartphone, so if you can leave behind your bulkier laptop you will save even more space.
4. Duplicate Items
This one sounds obvious, but it is always tempting to bring a second pair of jeans “just in case”. We aren’t advocating being ill prepared, but the more extras you throw in, the more space you waste. Map out the expected climate and itinerary and make a list of needed clothing. If an item in your suitcase won’t serve at least two purposes, replace it with a more utilitarian piece. Think neutral colors with stain and wrinkle resistant material. The more you can re-wear items with different outfits, the better.
5. Water Bottles or Travel Mugs
I have read many well-intentioned blogs that tell you to pack a reusable water bottle or coffee mug in order to save money. Unfortunately these items are bulky and awkwardly shaped, both of which are not conducive to packing light. It also ends up being a hassle to wash or dry these items throughout your trip. If you are doing some serious hiking a Camelbak is always the way to go. Otherwise we love using Platypus bottles because they take up virtually zero space. As for the coffee mugs, don’t even bother. Enjoy an espresso at a sidewalk cafe and make some memories!