Packing light is easier said than done, especially if you’re like me and always wait until the last minute. Packing can be a pretty daunting task, but if you know how to do it right, it can also be fun and exciting! Packing light doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to bring everything you want, but it does require you to go about it differently and think ahead.
Baggage choice is really important. Of course, it’s up to you if you wish to bring just a carry-on, or if you choose to bring a checked bag as well. Personally, I’ve found it a lot easier, and cheaper, to just bring a carry-on. The benefit of a carry-on is that you’ll dodge the awful checked baggage fees and you won’t have to wait forever at baggage claim. You also don’t have to worry about the airline losing your bag or lugging around a 50-pound suitcase.
Any carry-on suitcase will do, but if you’re looking for one that will last a long time with some extra features such as a charging port, The Bigger Carry On by Away is my personal favorite. This Coolife Hard Shell Carry On is also a great middle-of-the-road option if you’re looking for something that will last a while but won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for something last minute and don’t have time to wait for shipping, I love hitting up TJ Maxx for its great selection.
If you’re not convinced carry-on-only travel will work for you, these same tips will still apply if you’re checking a bag!
Packing and Luggage Tips
When packing for a trip, every bit of space helps! There are so many new and fun things that are helping people pack lighter and more efficiently.
First, I would recommend investing in some lightweight luggage. The suggested carry-on above is 8.4 pounds, but anything under 10 pounds is great. Also, if you can get a bag with 4 wheels to roll upright, it will be so worth it!
Another tip for making the most of your luggage room is filling up all the little spaces! You can use soft shirts, socks, or underwear to fill in gaps like inside shoes or under hats. Every space counts!
Packing cubes are a great way to organize your clothes so you’re not digging through your suitcase for 5 minutes until you find anything. I like these packing cubes for the variety of sizes.
When it comes to how people pack, most people just fold their clothes normally and put them in their suitcases. Although this may be the fastest and easiest option, it leaves a lot of empty spaces that could be put to better use. The method that maximizes space the most is by rolling up your clothing. You can fit almost twice as many t-shirts by rolling them as opposed to just folding them! If you’re looking for a great way to save space, roll your clothes!
Probably one of the biggest mistakes people make while packing is simply just taking too much stuff. It’s nice to have “options” but sometimes it can be super overwhelming and you end up wearing half of what you actually brought. You can save lots of time and space by being a little more mindful when you’re packing your clothes.
You really should only pack about a week’s worth of clothes. If you’ll be gone longer than that you can always do laundry or hand wash your clothes at the hotel or hostel. For a normal-length trip, you should only need 2-3 pairs of pants, a few shirts, maybe a sweater and a dress, or a button-up shirt. Don’t overthink it, but make sure you are smart about what you’re bringing.
Another tip is to pack clothes that can mix and match easily. Bring lots of neutrals and pieces that will go with multiple outfits. This will help you save time when trying to decide what to wear and will help save space as well!
Also, try to bring clothing that is not super thick or heavy. Clothing that is made up of lightweight fabrics like cotton, silk, or polyester will be best! If you need to bring a jacket, remember you don’t need three, one should be fine as you can always wear lots of layers. If you’re traveling to a colder destination, really take advantage of the tip to roll your clothes. I always bring sweaters that are easy to roll up tight. Plus, if you take a little extra time to roll them, it’s pretty easy to avoid having excessive wrinkles.
Shoes are always a tricky one for people. I know it’s fun to bring five pairs of shoes on a trip (I am guilty), but shoes are one of the heaviest items that you need to bring and take up lots of space. So packing 1-2 pairs of shoes is ideal. I took a trip to Hawai’i for 12 days recently and took one pair of sandals and one pair of tennis shoes for hiking — and there wasn’t one time I wished I had brought extra!
I would recommend comfortable walking shoes, like sneakers. The second pair might be some sandals or flip-flops, which are both pretty lightweight. Most importantly, make sure that your shoes can be used in different circumstances, and that they are suited to your particular trip.
Try to bring lightweight toiletries as well. Depending on where you’ll be staying, most hotels and Airbnb’s have hairdryers and shower products for you to use, be sure to check the household items they provide before you pack. If you still want to bring some of your own products I recommend bringing shampoo/conditioner & body wash bars! They’re easy to store and last a long time! Make sure you only bring the necessities.
Another packing hack for toiletries is to take a quick trip to target for their travel-size kit that comes with a couple bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, smaller containers for things like face wash and hair gel, a spray bottle for hairspray, and a cap for your toothbrush. All of these things are reusable, and it costs all of $5.
Make sure to bring a personal item
All airlines let you bring a personal item onboard. This means you can bring either a purse or, if you’re still needing some extra room for things, here’s a great, inexpensive option of a bag that will maximize your personal item space.
If you do decide to travel with only a carry-on, this can be a lifesaver for those extra little things that aren’t going to fit in your bag. A lot of times, I will bring electronics and things I’ll either use on the plane or need to take out at security– such as a laptop or iPad, my camera, headphones, and snacks — and I will also put my bag of toiletries in there as well so that I don’t have to open up my carry-on and take them out.
What to Wear on the Plane
What you wear on the plane can actually help a ton when it comes to saving space in your luggage. Make sure to wear your heaviest or bulkiest shoes on the plane. This will save you 1-3 pounds, and lots of space. Also, make sure to wear layers and maybe a bigger coat that you need on the trip but don’t want to stuff into your bag.
It’s usually cold on flights so having enough layers is perfect. If you get too warm walking around the airport you can always tie it around your waist.
Another great item to wear is a hat. This will save it from getting squished in your bag and helps save room as well.
Obviously, it depends on the business of your travel, but make sure to not bring too many electronics. Phones have so many different capabilities now that put everything on one device. You can download books, movies, listen to podcasts, music, and they all take amazing pictures! That’s a lot of things that would have taken up space!
Make it Fun!
Don’t let packing be stressful for you! It truly can be so exciting and fun to pick out everything for your trip — just don’t wait until the last minute. With these tips, you can finally master the art of packing light. All it takes is a little bit of planning and patience, and maybe the self-discipline to NOT pack your entire closet.