Travelers who like to pack their entire closet on trips, read carefully: packing ultra-light is simple. Many travelers are guilty of over-packing, which is a common mistake for those who don’t take time to pick out only outfits and items they need for the trip. With the ever-increasing costs of travel these days, it’s getting a bit more expensive to over-pack. Airlines are now charging extra per checked-in bags (sometimes even carry-ons!) so it’s always a good idea to pack ultra-light. Adopt this old saying: “The more you know, the less you need” as you begin to reverse your over-packing tendencies. Here are some ways you can pack ultra-light for your next trip.
Current weather reports and forecasts for your destination ultimately determine which items you need, and which items you can leave at home. Try to be prepared for all weather conditions without packing more than one of the bulky items — jackets, sweatpants, and boots. It’s always easier to pack clothes than to shop for them once you arrive.
Packing a lot into small space just got a little bit easier. Compression bags maximize the amount of space in your bag for items you must bring, but won’t normally fit in your bag. Clothes in a compressed, vacuum bag also keep them separate and clean because they aren’t exposed to your shoes or items that might spill (toiletries). You’d be surprised how much space you’ll have for extra items if vacuum bags are used.
Some clothes just aren’t practical for packing light. Heavy knits and wool can be replaced with lighter, yet equally warming material like cashmere or smart wool. Consider lighter fabrics for everyday wear — wrinkle free and cotton are ideal materials. When picking out outfits to wear during your trip, keep in mind that fabrics with a bit of spandex or polyester (blended materials) tend to get less wrinkled and keep their shape. Silk and linen are more high maintenance and do not travel well.
On average, female travelers pack five pairs of shoes. Just think how much space you would be saving by just packing 2 or 3 pairs. Wear your bulkiest shoes during the flight and pack one pair of neutral colored flats (or walking shoe), one pair that can handle water/rain, and one fancy shoe (if needed). When picking out shoes, look for versatility and comfort.
Hotels often supply many essential toiletries. Always read what amenities your hotel or place of stay provides before packing your entire bathroom. Some places also offer extras (toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, razors, and shaving cream) upon request. If you are taking toiletries, always opt for travel-sized containers — you can fill up reusable travel-sized bottles with your existing toiletries to save space and money. If you must, buying toiletries instead of packing them will also rid the hassle of packing liquids and easy spill toiletries.
You don’t need an entirely new outfit for each day during your trip. It’s a common mistake to pack separate outfits, undergarments, and accessories for each outfit. Instead, pack neutral-colored clothes (whites, grays, blacks) so that you can easily interchange your tops and bottoms, creating infinite combinations. For accessories, pick a couple key items that work well during the day or night. Scarves are a great accessory — they can dress up any bland outfit, light, and provide warmth. Keep in mind that neutral color schemes are the most versatile.
Traveling also means you’ll probably be doing lots of outdoor activities. If your trip is centered on sports or activities for which you’ll need lots of equipment (like golf or water sports), making a list of all the items you may need for a specific function will give you a good idea of the types of items you’ll need to pack. Attending a wedding or going on a business trip can be stressful, so you can refer to your list after packing as a check-off reference.
Even for those traveling two weeks or longer, there is never a need to pack for more than one week’s worth. If you’re going for eight or nine days, you might have room to violate this rule. Many parts of the world you’ll probably pay $15 USD to get a load of laundry done. Not only will it save you space and extra baggage, packing for one week will also reduce the amount of clothes you’ll probably not even end up wearing.
Even for the avid athlete or gym rat, you probably won’t have time to work out during your trip. Even for those highly committed to the gym, you might want to leave your running shoes and gym wear at home. The reality is, most people “work out” enough by walking during their vacation. If there’s extra time, take advantage of hotel gyms, opt for alternative methods (like taking the stairs instead of elevators) or do simple exercises that don’t need all the extra fitness gear.