You only have to drag one heavy, oversized suitcase through one airport one time to appreciate the value of packing light. After finding myself lugging far too many bags throughout Europe or being charged extra for my heavy suitcase, I decided it was time to master the art of packing light. I quickly learned you do not have to leave your favorite outfits at home or sacrifice necessities to keep your luggage light and manageable. Here are five tips you can use to pack light and still bring everything you need for a great trip.
1. Limit the Number and Size of Your Suitcase
You can only work with the space you have, so limiting the size and number of your suitcases, forces you to pack light. I always try and limit myself to a carry on first. If I have to upgrade to a larger bag at least I've already streamlined what I planned to pack. If you can't get everything into a single larger checked bag, then bring the carry on back into the equation. Never bring more than two roller bags per person because it's a nightmare to lug around. Keep in mind if you are checking a bag that there are weight restrictions so avoid packing heavy articles of clothing like boots, wedges and coats if possible. Weigh your bag ahead of time if possible to avoid unexpected overage fees.
2. Pack Ahead of Time
I’m the queen of last minute packing. It's a habit I'm trying to break. Waiting until the last minute is stressful not only for you, but whoever you are traveling with (insert frustrated husband here). Last minute packing for me usually means throwing anything and everything that could be a potential option into my suitcase and only wearing half of it. While this strategy works, it's not ideal if you're trying to pack light. Planning ahead allows you time to be more mindful about what you’re packing and provides time to try on different outfit combinations and choose versatile pieces. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered new outfit combinations and ways to be more efficient with my packing with just a little extra time to think it through. If you know you’re not going to have a lot of time to pack, try making a packing list ahead of time and following that.
3. Pack Clothes Based on Versatility
Versatility is the key to packing light. Making a single item of clothing do double (or triple) duty will cut the number of items you need in half. Challenge yourself to style every item in your suitcase more than one way and you will instantly have double the clothing options, but half the clothes. My two packing must haves are a blazer and plain cotton t-shirt. A blazer quickly dresses up nearly any top and also doubles as a jacket. Oftentimes, I will leave my jacket at home and just bring a blazer if weather permits. A plain t-shirt is also a great must have since you can dress it up with accessories, a blazer or dress pants or dress it down with jeans or shorts. I’m also a big fan of packing dresses since it’s a “one and done” option not requiring matching a top to a bottom. When choosing a dress for your trip, opt for one that can go from day to night seamlessly. Layering a day dress with your blazer is a quick and easy option.
4. Make the most of your space
Packing light is all about fitting as much as possible into a limited space. Make the most of the space you have by rolling T-shirts, casual wear and other wrinkle-resistant items instead of folding them. Save the folding for dresses, dress shirts and other items that tend to wrinkle. Do your best to limit the number of shoes you bring, since they are heavy and hard to pack efficiently. If you want to pack multiple pairs, opt for flats or sandals which take up less space than sneakers, heels, wedges or boots. If you must bring sneakers or boots, consider wearing them to the airport to avoid taking up space in your bag. Otherwise if they’re going in your suitcase, don’t let the empty space inside sneakers and boots go to waste. Pack socks, accessories and other small items (think deodorant or toothpaste in a plastic baggy) inside. If packing heels, make use of the open spaces that remain under the heel.
5. Use the Layered Approach
It’s much easier to pack light when traveling to a warm weather location, since clothes are smaller and lightweight. So, I recommend never traveling to cold weather locations. Just kidding! If you are headed somewhere chilly, avoid packing big bulky sweaters that take up half your suitcase and opt for layering when possible. Dressing in layers keeps you warm, while also providing flexibility with your wardrobe. If bringing a coat, opt to carry on board or wear to the airport to avoid taking up room in your suitcase.
Hopefully you will find these 5 tips makes packing light, easy and more convenient. Packing light can not only make the trip through the airport a breeze, it can make your vacation more enjoyable as well. Do you have other tips for packing light? What are your must have items?