Packing light is an art form that most experienced travelers excel at. Whether you are trekking across Europe or honeymooning in Hawaii, it is far less stressful to carry a small twenty pound carry-on than 2 large wheeled suitcases. Paying for checked bags, risking losing them, managing them in and out of taxis, around unknown areas and just the effects on the body are all reasons to learn how to pack light.
Think Of The Environment and Save Some Money
Some other reasons to pack light that you may not have thought of: it’s better for the environment, and for most it gives a feeling of freedom. In the States, we tend to accumulate a wealth of things as we move along in life. But talk to anyone who keeps their life, and belongings, simple and the answer is usually the same “Less is more.” Having fewer things creates a feeling of freedom for most and helps them focus on more important things.
The environment also takes a hit when we travel heavy. Millions of people all over the world traveling day in and day out use an enormous amount of fuel, in both planes and cars. Packing light cuts back on the weight in each vehicle, and therefore decreases fuel used. You might not think that your smaller carry-on will make a difference, but together millions of them definitely do.
Still need another reason to carry less on your trip? How about security? With fewer items to carry, not only will you know what you have and keep it close to you, but you’ll be less likely to forget something along your way. We all can recall the time we left an item in a hotel, or unknowingly dropped an item out of a bag or suitcase while traveling. Keeping your item list short and your bags small will decrease the likelihood that you lose or forget anything.
Choose The Right Bag
In order to start packing light, begin by selecting an appropriate bag. Take into account your trip of course. If you’ll be walking a lot, you might want to stick with a bag that is easily carried on your back, and is fairly lightweight. Multiple compartments can help you organize your things, and using baggies to keep items from leaking or spilling will also help with a smaller bag. If you plan to stay in a hotel, and do not plan to carry your bag around with you, a small carry-on suitcase might be a better option. Clothes are easier to keep folded and wrinkle free in a hard suitcase, and it leaves a bit more room if your trip is a lengthy one.
Once you’ve decided on a bag (which really needs to happen first, so that you don’t over-pack and fit your suitcase to your item list) you can start selecting appropriate items. Go through your normal day and begin collecting items that you use EVERY DAY. Do your best to leave items that are not used often. Depending on where you are going, you can most likely buy anything you run out of or forget, so try not to stress much about that. Also keep in mind that you won’t need most emergency items. A few Band-Aids might come in handy, but otherwise keep most other items at home. As long as you have spare cash in hand, you can typically buy whatever you need wherever you are.
Only Take What You Will Wear
When picking out clothes, think for the weather, but plan for the norm in that area at that time. Bring a few layers instead of a big coat, and pack clothes with the thought in mind that they can be washed. One pair of shorts, one pair of jeans, etc. All can be worn more than once and then washed. Try to stay away from big sweaters, many pairs of shoes and such. Both are heavy and take up a great deal of space. Also keep in mind that you want a little bit of extra space on your way to your destination. Many people enjoy picking up a few trinkets or gifts to bring home with them, so a bit of free space is always handy later.
Once you have all of your items together, analyze each and every one. Do you use it every day? Is it something you can live without for a short time? Or is it something you can buy there? If you really have to think about your answer, leave it home. Organizing bags or boards can come in handy for easily finding things in your bag, and keeping clothes free of wrinkles.
While all of this might seem a bit over-analytical, after packing light a few times, you’ll think less and less. You’ll also travel quicker and with less stress. You might even begin to implement these practices for at home life. De-clutter your work area, bedroom or kitchen and easily find everything you need and give to charity the things you don’t. All in all, learning to pack light will most certainly help you while traveling, but can also become a part of your lifestyle.