Travel Light: How to Pack!

PackingAnyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a light packer. If I can't fit everything I want to bring in a carry-on suitcase, I pack less. Generally speaking, I tend to want fewer options when traveling and hate lugging around huge bags.

This isn't the case for everyone, so I wanted to share some of my own packing strategies for short- or long-term trips.

So let's get right into it!


Carry-on vs. Checked

I admit, the struggle is real when deciding whether or not I'm going to check in luggage. To simplify the process, I normally consider the following factors:

1. Trip length

How long will I be traveling for? If it's more than 2 weeks, I check a bag in because I can normally mix-and-match my clothing up to 2 weeks before I need to start rotating through my outfits again. More on mixing and matching below.

2. Purpose of the trip

Am I going for business or pleasure, or both? If for work or both, I tend to check a bag to account for garment bags and nice shoes. It's easier to bring less when you're traveling for fun, as there are no real outfit restrictions or expectations.

3. Weather

How temperate will the destination be? Traveling to places like the UK or Scandinavia can be difficult, as temperatures may vary from day to night, meaning you'll have to bring some lighter clothing as well as warmer sweaters and tops. More stuff = bigger bag.

4. Souvenirs

Now this is completely up to you, but I love buying souvenirs for people. If I know that I'm going somewhere like Paris or London, I'm going to want to get a bottle of wine or t-shirts for friends and family, which means I would need more space and therefore would check a bag.

5. Liquids

Further to the point above, regarding the wine, I always check a bag if I'm going to have a lot of liquids on a trip. This could be extra shampoo or soap, souvenir wine, face wash, etc. If I'm only traveling for a week, I can manage squeezing my toiletries into mini travel bottles. But, any longer and I'll need to pack more.

Keep in mind that the current TSA limit for liquids is: one (1) quart-sized bag containing bottles or containers no larger than 100ml (3.4 oz) each.

6. Laundry

Ah, laundry... this one is tricky whilst abroad. If you're staying at a hostel or hotel, you can generally assume that laundry will be either non-existent or expensive. That being said, most (if not all) major cities have laundromats that you can use on your travels. Opposed to this idea or don't have the time? Well, you'll need to pack more as a result.

Fun fact: you can always just wash your clothing in the shower or a sink if you're in a rush or don't want to use a public facility.


How much is too much?

When in doubt, pack less. I normally follow the standard of laying everything out on my bed and then cutting that by 30%, if not more, because I've found that I just don't end up using half of the stuff I end up bringing anyway.

Packing clothing and accessories is a lot easier than you might think, especially if you have a more solid-colored wardrobe. Start off by sorting your clothing by outfit and then identifying which pieces would go well with others, mix-and-match.
    For styling, I would mix one solid top with all bottoms, a print top with at least 2 bottoms, a jacket with all outfits, etc. I don't pack anything that can't be matched with at least 3-4 other items and I always wash my clothing at the end of each week using one of the methods I mentioned above.

    The same goes for shoes and accessories: try to pack ones that match almost all outfit combinations.

    Are you a fan of make-up or skin routine? Well, the less you pack in terms of clothing, the more space you have for toiletries!


    Final Notes

    I get that the above tips don't apply to everyone, especially those who love louder prints and bolder statement pieces. But packing light doesn't just mean using only one carry-on; it means prioritizing space for the items with which you most want to travel!

    Do you have any tips for traveling light or packing for vacation? Feel free to share them, or ask any questions, in the comments below or on Twitter.


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