You hear it over and over again, but packing light is truly one of the keys to a successful vacation. It means getting to your destination faster, not having to worry about losing your luggage on the flight, navigating public transportation easier, less sweat, less trouble. Here’s a few tips to help free yourself from the burden of an overpacked bag.

7 Tips To Help You Pack Lighter

1) You don’t need extras.
I have been guilty of packing for example, a back-up tshirt, “just in case this one gets a stain”. Aaaand I never needed it. Plan your outfits in advance so you don’t end up packing things you’re not going to wear. Remember, you can almost always have laundry done or even wash them in the sink and hang them out to dry overnight.

Everything I needed for a three-week trip packed into a carryon-sized backpack!
Everything I needed for a three-week winter trip packed into a carryon-sized backpack!

2) Leave the “what if” items behind. “What if I get a bad sunburn? I may need this aloe lotion. What if I get invited to dinner? I may need these heels.” Don’t let yourself get caught up in “what ifs”! On the rare occasion you actually do end up needing something that you talked yourself out of packing, you can almost always buy what you need at your destination (unless you’re traveling to a remote location, or Cuba).

One of the main entrances to the grand bazaar. The brown signs hanging from the ceiling give interesting tidbits about the history of the Bazaar.
If worse comes to worse, you can always pick up a needed item at your destination. Grand Bazaar in Istanbul pictured.

3) Shoes take a up a lot of space. Pick one pair that are versatile and comfortable. For a two week trip, you really shouldn’t have more than two pair of shoes. I highly recommend the Sanuk Moccodiles and Sanuk Sandals I have taken on multiple trips!

4) Coordinate your clothes. Pack clothes in neutral tones that work well together. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where your only clean shirt clashes terribly with your only clean pants. So for God’s sake, leave that gold and lime sequined shirt and go with a basic black!

5) Use packing cubes and compression sacks. You will be totally shocked how much space packing cubes will help you save in your bag. Fold your clothes, then roll them, then wedge them all together like you’re making enchiladas.

How-to-Pack

6) Fit everything in one bag. I travel with an Osprey Farpoint 40, which is carry-on sized, and I force myself to pack my purse and camera bag inside that bag. This way, I only have to keep up with one bag on travel days—not three—and at the end of my trip if I’ve bought a bunch of souvenirs, I can always make room for them by carrying my purse or camera bag separately on the flight home.

7) Practice pack. Don’t wait until the last minute. I start a packing list at least a month before any trip, and then I practice pack to give myself time to figure out what I’m missing or what can be left behind. Try on every outfit, down to the socks and shoes, to make sure you’re packing only exactly what you need.

Be sure to check out our packing lists to see how much stuff we typically take on trips. And if you’re looking for carry-on sized bag suggestions, check out our reviews here and here. Got any other great tips for light packing? Feel free to comment below!

About The Author

Traveling as often as possible while also running a vintage shop from our home in Texas. Obsessed with ancient sites, Turkish carpets, and tacos.

3 Comments

  1. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to leave “what if” items behind when traveling. My husband and I are talking about getting a caravan so we can travel now that our kids are out of the house, and I’m excited to get out and see the world. I tend to get caught up over things that could happen, and it makes me pack too much sometimes, so I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind and try and leave those things behind. Thanks for the great post!

  2. My husband and I are thinking about getting a small used caravan to travel around in and are worried about space. Thanks for the advice about how you should coordinate your clothing and pick neutral colors that work well no matter what. I would also recommend getting a space bag to help you condense your clothing so that you can fit more.

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