Last Updated on October 15, 2022 by Natalie Rabinowitz
Tips for Packing Light
- If you don’t need it, don’t take it! This is Rule #1 for packing light.
- Pack layers based on your destination’s climate and bring lightweight synthetic clothing—they wrinkle less, dry quicker and regulate your body temperature, whereas cotton weighs more and takes longer to dry.
- Layout all your planned clothes/gear and take only half of what you need. Pack your bag and carry it around for a while. Is it comfortable? Is it too heavy? It’s easier to ditch things at home. The less stuff you take, the more room you have for souvenirs.
- Note on colours: Neutral and dark colours hide stains and wrinkles best. White/light colours require washing more frequently.
- Bring more tops than bottoms.
- Bring a hat and long-sleeve shirt which doubles as insulation and sun protection.
- Take older clothing/gear you can discard or donate. Buy new clothing along the way.
- To determine your bag’s weight, weigh yourself with and without your luggage.
Comfort, Comfort, Comfort!!
- Be versatile by bringing running shoes that can be used for running, walking and hiking.
- If you are going on long, rugged hikes, opt to wear your heavy boots while travelling.
- Pack your lighter shoes as they will take up less room.
Carry-on 3-1-1 Toiletry Tips for Packing Light
In the United States, carry-on toiletry requirements are referred to as the 3-1-1 rule.
3 (more accurately, 3.4 oz) 100 ml of liquids and gels or less per item.
1 transparent plastic bag.
1 bag per person.
- Opt for carry-on toiletries. Check out the Toiletry Melange blog for carry-on toiletry ideas.
- Each liquid and gel toiletry must be in separate containers measuring up to 100 ml (3.4 oz) or less. Not permitted are large bottles that are half-full and rolled toothpaste tubes.
- One clear transparent zip-top bag (per passenger) measuring up to 15.24 x 22.86 cm (6 x 9 in) and must be able to close completely.
- If you are staying at a hotel, check beforehand to see if they supply items such as shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and razors. Do they have a hairdryer available?
- Buy toiletries upon arrival and try out what the locals use.
- Of course, you can pack your essentials. Hence eco-friendly travel reusable containers made of Silicone or Aluminium to top up your personal favourites.
- The less you bring, the less you have to worry.
- Avoid packing sensitive electronics in your checked bags—they’ll get tossed about or stolen.
- Consider a pre-paid international phone instead of bringing your cell phone.
- Laptops are great, but a hotel or cyber cafe (even your cell phone) may work just as well with far less weight and hassle. If you do take your cell phone, check with your carrier about charges and consider upgrading to an international plan for your trip. Remember the charger.
- Along with your camera, bring extra memory cards as they are not affected by x-ray screenings but note that they should be carried on and not put in a checked bag. The undeveloped film can be harmed by x-rays, so ask for a hand inspection to avoid damage.
- Do not pack spare lithium batteries in your checked luggage; these must be carried on per all airline regulations as they are considered a fire hazard.
- Keep spare batteries in their original packaging or place tape over the terminals to avoid accidental activation or short-circuiting; don’t let loose batteries come in contact with metal objects.
- Research the need for adapters/converters for electric-powered items.
- Travel Insurance! Something we tend not to think about but highly recommended if you are a jet setter, hiker, explorer or adventurer. Check out World Nomads Travel Insurance for a piece of mind that costs less than a cup of coffee daily.
- Leave jewellery and valuables at home—it’s less to carry and prevents worry about them being lost or stolen.
- Carry your credit card, cash, medicine, keys and passports close to you in a security belt or pouch.
- Leave a copy of your information at home and with a travel companion.
- Write your name and contact info on the inside and outside of the luggage, as tags can get torn off.
- Pack a lightweight, zippered collapsible bag for an extra bag to check or carry on the plane with all your souvenirs.
- Carry on all valuables and any fragile items to avoid loss or damage.
- Do not wrap gifts, as they could be opened for inspection.
- Keep a packing list for future trips so you can learn from your experiences.
- Pack a small first aid and sewing kit.
- Bring a pen! The one time I forgot, I needed it.
Most airports in the United States require that bags remain unlocked for random security checks. TSA locks can be opened and relocked by TSA agents. Travelling in Europe has fewer restrictions regarding locked luggage.
Lightweight Security Items to Consider
- Money belt/security pouch to secure your valuables close to you.
- Cable lock or a stainless-steel mesh system that securely hugs your bag.
- Rubber doorstop—put on inside of the door for rooms where security is questionable.
Alternative Packing Strategies
- If you want to go completely light, it is possible to pack your bag, ship it and pick it up when you reach your destination. While this approach reduces your luggage hassles, this is not recommended for international travel in particular due to the substantial duties and fees involved.
- Or, if you’re a dedicated minimalist looking for a real adventure, you could take what you can wear and buy what you need at your destination.
- Keep in mind, though, that travelling without luggage may be viewed with suspicion.
Doing Laundry on the Road
Unless you are staying at a location that offers laundry or there is a local cleaner, doing laundry is part of travelling light which does not require much effort. Before travelling, choose your clothes carefully and do a “test” wash to see how quickly they dry. Before hanging, roll items in a towel and squeeze out excess water to speed up drying.
Pack a 100 ml (3.4 oz) container of liquid soap in your carry-on or take a soap bar like Dr Bonners. You can also buy detergent at your destination. A travel clothesline is another easy option versus hanging clothes over chairs and lamps.