After taking the better part of 18 months off of traveling, many people are chomping at the proverbial bit to travel. Whether it’s taking a road trip to the beach, flying across the country to see family, or taking a two-week European vacation – traveling is, once again, back on the table. But before you go crazy packing, take some time to consider going a bit lighter than you usually would.
Why Travel Lighter?
When it comes to travel, it’s important that you do everything possible to reduce stress. One of the simplest ways to do this is by packing less. Traveling lighter affords you a number of benefits, including:
- Easier to carry. It’s so much easier to maneuver when you only have a couple of small bags, as opposed to a long train of beefy suitcases. You can easily move around the airport, grab a quick Uber to the hotel, and walk around the city.
- Less expensive. Checked bags are expensive. And the more your bags weigh, the more it’s going to cost you. If you aren’t careful, a family’s checked baggage fees could cost as much as another airline ticket. By packing light and sticking with carry-on luggage, you save money.
- More flexibility. When you only have a few key essential items, you have a lot more flexibility. For example, if you’re only taking a backpack, you don’t ever have to worry about checking your luggage somewhere so that you can walk around the city. Just throw it over your shoulder and you’re good to go!
- Better experience. We often overpack in an effort to insulate against anything that could possibly happen. Most of our packing is “what if” or “just in case” packing. In other words, we bring things just in case something happens. (What if a cold front comes through? What if we get invited to a fancy dinner? What if my laptop dies?) But the reality is that these what-ifs almost never come to fruition. And if they do, we can usually call an audible and buy something at a nearby store. By eliminating these “what if” items, you can travel lighter and be less stressed. This leads to a better overall experience.
Overpacking might sound like a good idea when you’re getting things in order the night before your trip, but it almost always ends up costing you more than it benefits you. Be smart about how you travel and you’ll be amazed by how much more enjoyable your experiences are.
4 Tips for Traveling Lighter
There are clearly many benefits to traveling lightly. The question is, how do you do it? Well, here are several suggestions and techniques:
1. Bring Smaller Bags
Most people pack until their bags are full. If you have an oversized suitcase, you’re going to pack as much as you possibly can. But if you have a much smaller bag, you have no choice but to pare down what you bring. Thus, the easiest way to pack a lighter is to get smaller bags. No need to overcomplicate things – it’s as simple as that.
In addition to using smaller luggage, opt for smaller day bags. Rather than a large purse or standard backpack, bring a compact leather backpack like this one from PortlandLeatherGoods that you can throw over one shoulder. Not only is it lighter, but you’ll look fashionable.
Another benefit of having a smaller bag is that you aren’t tied down as much. If you need to check out of your hotel room several hours before a flight, you can still move around the city and enjoy the sights.
2. Use a Packing List
How do you go about packing for a trip? If you’re like a lot of people, you open up your suitcase and start rifling through your closet – tossing things in until your luggage is full. Big mistake.
Always use a packing list – and create it well in advance. List off every single item you need (and how many of each). Then when you go to pack, only pack the items on the list. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t go.
The best time to start a packing list is a week in advance. Any further out and you’ll put too many things on your list. Any sooner and you risk leaving something important off. By giving yourself a week to plan, your list will be much more helpful.
3. Pack Versatile Items
Avoid packing one-off items and outfits. Bring versatile clothing and fashion accessories that you can mix and match (wearing two or even three times). Neutral colors and layers are always helpful. And when it comes to shoes – which should be kept to an absolute minimum – try packing no more than three pairs. (This includes the pair you wear on travel day.) Extra pairs of shoes take up a ton of space and might only get worn once on a trip. Save some room and bring a couple of your most versatile options.
4. Be Smart With Toiletries
In addition to shoes, toiletries take up a lot of space. Here are three ways to reduce the amount of space your toiletries take:
- Wait until you get there. You can either use the complimentary toiletries that the hotel provides you, or you can purchase some at a nearby convenience store.
- Only pack travel-size containers of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc.
- Try solid toiletries. Solid shampoo, solid conditioner, and soap bars are usually more compact (and less messy). Plus, you don’t have to fuss with airport security checks.
This might seem like a very small suggestion, but you’ll be amazed by how much space you save by simply rethinking your toiletries. You’ll also have a much cleaner experience and won’t have to worry about sticky messes and spills happening in your suitcase.
Are You Ready?
Stop viewing traveling lighter as making a sacrifice or compromising on the things you want. View it as an opportunity to make your adventures more enjoyable and rewarding. It’s a simple detail, but it’s one that could totally change your experiences for the better.