Years of traveling with more than you need will make you crave a smaller and lighter bag. Packing needs, of course, vary from trip to trip. A light packing job for one out-of-town excursion can look entirely different from a light packing job for another. What all light packing jobs have in common is they’re driven by a goal of packing as little as possible while ensuring the packer has everything he or she really needs.
Whether you’re packing for a three-day business trip or a two-week vacation, keep these tips in mind to keep the size and weight of your baggage down.
1. Limit yourself to one small bag
One way to ensure you don’t bring a bunch of stuff you don’t need is to restrict the size of your backpack or suitcase. In almost all instances, everything you bring on a trip should be able to fit in one, carry-on-sized bag. The contents you pack will expand to fill all available space in your bag, so leave whatever doesn’t fit the best at home. That way you have room to take a few things back.
2. Pack early
Create a packing list as soon as the trip is cemented in stone. Every time you think of an article of clothing or other item you should bring, add it to the list. This gives you time to think about whether you really need an item on the list before your packing job is complete. People who pack at the last minute usually bring far more than they need. These types of packing jobs also tend to be less organized.
3. The rule of threes
Don’t pack more than three of the same item. That means T-shirts, pants, socks, and—yes—underwear. The pairs you’re not wearing you should be washing and what you don’t have just purchase at your destination. You’ll have the chance to do a little shopping, if you left space in your bag that is!
4. Scrutinize each item you pack
Before putting anything in your backpack or suitcase, lay out every item on your packing list. Take a close look at each article of clothing, electronic device, and toiletry you’re planning on bringing. If you’re not sure you’ll use something or don’t absolutely need it, let it go. Chances are you’ll be able to find anything you may end up requiring while on your trip.
5. Keep toiletries to a minimum
Just get these things there. Don’t bring every hygiene or beauty product that is part of your daily regimen. Bring only the essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc. Think about what toiletries will be provided in your place of lodging, and don’t bring doubles. If you have two dopp kits or a 12-gallon plastic bag filled with full-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles you have too much.
6. Give merino wool a shot
If you’re traveling to multiple destinations with different climate patterns or are going somewhere where days are warm but nights can be cool, bring some merino wool. This wonder material is compact and wrinkle-resistant. It can keep you warm in cool weather, keep you cool in warm weather, and be worn for days without unpleasant odors.
7. Know your roll
Avoid folding your shirts like you see in the department store. Rolling up your clothes into neat bundles will give you much more room in whatever size bag you choose. This method has the added bonus of minimizing wrinkles.
8. Prioritize organization
An organized packing job can keep your bag from getting too unruly. Use packing cubes to save space, and keep an eye out for packing organizers from which you can benefit. At the very least, tightly roll articles of clothing to optimize space and prevent wrinkling (see above!).
Follow these tips the next time you pack for a trip, and your bag should be smaller and better-packed than it’s ever been before.
Do you have any helpful packing tips of your own? Share them in the comments!
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