How To Pack Light For Easy Travels

Back in the day, travel was a very luxurious pastime. Images of an elegant socialite alongside carts of steamer trunks and luggage standing by a private jet come to mind – a vast difference from travel today. Carry-on allowances are strict and travelers these days can expect to pay a premium for carting extra or oversize luggage aboard airplanes, trains and cruise ships. So just how do you overcome the battle of the travel bulge? It’s pretty simple. Here are some top tips.

1. Invest in good, carry-on luggage

The only time you should carry “big” check-in luggage is, well, almost never. Unless you’re going on a 3-month vacation where you’ll need to rotate clothing, a carry-on is sufficient for most people.

2. Pack enough clothing for one week

Seven days’ worth of clothing and shoes is sufficient for almost any trip of seven days or longer. Why? You can wash your clothing in the hotel sink or go to a local laundromat. If you need dry cleaning or don’t want to mess with laundry, send your dirties to the hotel laundry service. It’s cheaper in the long run and more convenient than carting around a 30-lb suitcase when you only need half that or less.

3. Bring simple garments made from synthetic fibers

On the subject of clothing, think minimal and synthetic. For men, two shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of shoes (one dress-casual, one pair of athletic-casual), a jacket, socks and three pairs of underwear. For women, two pairs of pants, a simple black dress that can be dressed “up” or “down,” two shirts, a jacket, socks and three pairs of underwear. Women’s shoes (two pairs) are a pair of dress-casual pumps or flats and a pair of athletic-casual. Sure, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you stick to the laundry rule, this is all you need. Synthetic materials are faster drying and wrinkle less than those made with natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk and hemp.

4. Don’t travel with toiletries

Buy them when you reach your destination. This saves a hassle at the airport, luggage weight, and the danger of spills and burst liquid accidents that may damage the contents of your luggage.

5. Don’t pack medication

Never pack prescription and OTC medications in bags that you aren’t carrying on you. It’s pretty obvious why. Also key here is to carry prescription meds in their original containers with all your information (and your doctor’s and pharmacy’s information, too) on them. Don’t think you’ll be saving time by putting your meds in a pill carrier and leaving the originals at home. Security might very well confiscate any pills or substances they cannot identify. You can organize them in a pill box once you’ve landed at your destination.

6. Optimize packing space

Don’t wad if you can fold. Don’t fold if you can fold and roll. Haphazardly throwing clothing into a suitcase takes up way more room than folded or folded and rolled garments. If you can get your hands on vacuum compression bags, all the better! These bags can also save your clothing from dirt or stains they might suffer if you’re carrying liquids or toiletries that spill or explode.

7. Safeguard your personal information

If you’re traveling internationally, keep copies of your passport on you or in a place that’s physically separate from where you normally would carry them. Also, leave copies with whoever is at home. Why? In case your purse/wallet is stolen, you’ll have passport copies on you. And if that backup is lost or stolen, it’s easy enough to have your contact at home send an image to your smartphone.

Once you learn to travel “light,” you’ll probably never go back to traditional luggage packing and carrying habits. Keep it simple, keep it light, and your back (and sanity) will thank you!