You’ll never meet an experienced traveller who boasts about how big their bags are. The mark of a real jetsetter is how lightly they pack.
Not only does a featherweight suitcase spare your back and shoulders, it also saves you from pricey baggage fees. The end result? You arrive at your destination with more money in your pocket and no need for a massage – unless you want one.
Follow these field-tested tips for packing light to save your stacks, your spine, and your sanity.
#1 Don’t Double Up
Check in with your hotel, Airbnb host, or any travelling companions before packing to avoid bringing duplicates. A mini hair dryer seems like a neat travel gadget until you remember that most hotels have hair dryers of their own (and they’re bigger). Toiletries are the easiest items to leave out of your bag. Worst case scenario, if you can’t score freebies from your hotel or share with a fellow traveller, it’s not hard to purchase the basics in your destination.
#2 Make Two Lists
Do your best Santa impression and make two lists – except instead of Naughty and Nice, call them Wants and Needs. Consider all the activities you’re realistically likely to do on your trip. Make one list of the gear and clothing you’ll need for each, as well as daily essentials like contact lenses or prescription meds. Make a second list of things you won’t necessarily need but think it might be nice to have. Only bring items from the second list if there’s space left after packing everything from the first.
#3 Lay Everything Out
Your Tetris skills can finally come in handy. Lay everything out on the bed or floor before you pack. In addition to creating an Instagram-worthy flat lay photo, this strategy serves two purposes. Number one, seeing everything at once can help you edit. Pack realistically, not ambitiously. If you think “maybe” or “what if” about an item, toss it out. Number two, simultaneously viewing all the contents of your suitcase can help you visualise the best way to arrange them to maximise space.
#4 Pay Attention To The Palette
If Packing Light 101 were a class, this is how it would start. Pick a colour palette that mixes and matches. Your salmon chinos may be serious lady-killers, but they’re not the most versatile choice for your travels. Aim for a solid base of neutrals and one accent colour (no need to be boring just because you’re being efficient). Also consider what’s least likely to crease or show stains, and what will fold up smallest.
#5 Consolidate Your Tech
One day Google will implant microchips in our brains and we’ll be our own favourite gadgets. In the meantime, you have to choose which tech goes and which tech stays. Think about what you really need. A phone can double as a reading device and a camera, eliminating the need for your Kindle and your Nikon. It might even be able to replace your laptop if all you’re planning to do is check social media and read the occasional email.