How to Travel Light: 15 Genius Travel Packing Hacks

Updated On: August 04, 2023

How to Travel Light

Have you decided to travel and explore the world? Want to travel light like a bird? When it comes to packing for a trip, we tend to fill up our bags with the whole wardrobe, resulting in carrying too much luggage. Excess luggage slows us down, causes chaos, and makes us pay extra fees. Wondering how to travel light without being burdened with heavy suitcases? ConnollyCove provides you with tips and tricks on how to pack smart and travel with ease.

Whether you are on a vacation or a business trip, packing depends on your destination, the weather, the length of your trip, and your itinerary. It also depends on the size and weight of luggage the airline allows. So, you should be selective with your gear and take the essentials only. The more items you take off, the lighter your bags will be, and the more enjoyable your trip will be. To trim down your packing weight, we will take you through some critical tips on how to travel light. 

10 Benefits of Packing Light

How to Travel Light
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Travelling anywhere makes us happy. What if we travel light with affordable fees? It will be an adventure-packed trip, with no doubt. Mastering the art of packing saves you money and time. A small bag gives you more freedom and mobility; you can put it on your lap on the bus or stash it easily in the overhead bin on an aeroplane. Still trying to convince yourself? Check out some of the endless benefits of packing light for your trip.

  1. Packing light takes no time. You do it fast because you have less stuff to put in your bag. With fewer things to rummage through, you find what you need easier and quicker. Unpacking your bag is also straightforward and saves you time. 
  2. Packing light helps you spend less time at the airport security check-in point and skip the luggage check-in queue. It also saves you a lot of time when you avoid the long wait at the luggage claim.
  3. You also save money if you pack light because you will not exceed the airline’s allowed luggage weight. So, there will be no excess luggage fees. You will also carry your own bag and will not pay for the airport trolley. 
  4. Travelling light allows you to make a multi-destination trip conveniently without unnecessary hassle. You can stop for a picnic en route to your destination without worrying about what to do with your luggage. 
  5. When you travel light, you can leave the airport to explore the city if you have a long layover. You can also leave the train station for lunch if you have a train connection. 
  6. Having only a backpack or a carry-on bag allows you to use public transportation instead of taking a taxi, which costs a fortune. 
  7. Tracking your luggage at the airport or in public transportation is more manageable. You will not worry about losing your belongings or getting them broken. You will also stay safe and keep your valuable items secure.
  8. When you pack light, you will always be in control of your small bag because you will keep it with you instead of handing it to someone who could mishandle your belongings.
  9. Packing light poses no risk to your health because your feet will not hurt, and you will avoid shoulder, back, and neck pain. 
  10. Light luggage increases your mobility as it is easier to carry and will not slow you down if you have to get on a train, bus, plane, etc, quickly before it leaves. You can also navigate stairs, cobbled streets, and other terrain easily with no effort.

How to Travel Light: 15 Travel Packing Tips and Tricks

How to Travel Light
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Packing light is the ability to remove items from your bag to make it lighter. However, you may not be ready to remove all the unnecessary items in one go. Like any other skill, packing light is not an easy job that you can master in a couple of days. The more you pack light, the better you will get at doing it. With the right mindset and preparation, you can travel for two weeks or less with only a backpack or a carry-on. Our packing secrets will inspire you to pack like a pro. 

1. Pack for Your Trip in Advance

To travel light, avoid packing last minute because it is stressful. You will stuff your luggage with unnecessary items, leading to excess luggage. So, it is perfect to start packing at least one day before your departure. Doing so allows you to take your time to assess the necessary items you want to take with you during your trip.

2. Make a List of Your Travel Essentials and Stick to It

Never take out your bag and pack whatever you need because when you realise your bag still has space, you will fill it up with unnecessary things. So, before you start packing, make a list of the things you want to do and the places you want to visit during your trip, including events, restaurants, and attractions. Your plan will tell you what clothes to take and what items to bring. 

Packing for hypothetical events or possible contingencies is impossible. So, do not pack “what if” or “just in case” items; only pack necessities and must-have items. If you are uncertain about what you should take, search for what to pack for your destination, and you will find many helpful packing lists online. Read our list of travel essentials

3. Check the Weather at Your Destination

Before you pack your bag, check the weather forecast for your destination for every day of your trip and consider the suitable fabrics. It is better to take a rain poncho instead of a bulky jacket if it is rainy to save space. If the weather is sunny, avoid heavy clothes. However, if you are worried the weather could change, you can buy heavy clothes at your destination to avoid overpacking.

4. Pack for One Week Only

No matter how long you are travelling, pack for only a week. One week’s worth of clothing is all that you need. You can consider the 1-2-3-4-5-6 rule, where you pack one hat, two pairs of shoes, three bottoms, four tops, five pairs of socks, and six pieces of underclothes. The fewer items you take, the less mental and physical burden you will have and the more enjoyable your trip will be. For trips that last for more than seven days, you need to do the washing on the way. 

5. Wash Your Clothes

Who said washing could not be fun? Doing the washing is cheaper than carrying many clothes and checking in your luggage at the airport. So, packing lightweight, easy-to-wash fabrics that dry easily works to your advantage. You can use a biodegradable soap for all your cleaning needs; dishes, clothes, and body. 

Rented apartments usually have a washing machine that you can use. Some hotels offer laundry services at a reasonable price. If the service is pricey, you can drop off your dirty clothes at a local launderette or cheap wash-and-fold service and pick them up clean and neat. 

Hand-washing your essentials, like socks and underclothes, in the sink is still the cheaper option. Refrain from packing detergent or soap with you to save space in your bag, and buy some when you arrive at your destination. For short trips, you can pack a stain-remover pen and use it to lift stains instead of washing your clothes.

6. Ditch Non-Essentials

Only take the things you are sure you will need it. Leave non-essentials and anything you can really do without at home, like bulky books, loyalty cards, and unnecessary accessories and electronics. You can purchase or rent most things at your destination. If you need specialist equipment, you will find local shops out there to buy all that you need.

7. Choose the Right Bag

Now, it is time to choose the right piece of luggage that fits into the overhead bin, and you can keep with you at all times. Always opt for a small, lightweight bag that fits all your needs. A big bag tempts you to fill it with unnecessary things. Unless you are packing fragile stuff, avoid any hard-side bag made from heavy materials or with irrelevant features; they add extra weight to your travel load and give you little space to pack your essentials. 

You can invest in a carry-on suitcase that is water-resistant and sturdy and has lots of storage pockets. If you prefer backpacks, pick one that opens like a suitcase so that you can easily find what you want without rummaging through everything in the bag.

An expandable bag is also a perfect option as it has two zippers: one to open and close your bag’s main compartment and one to allow for expansion. It is beneficial when you plan to purchase souvenirs since you will not have to buy an extra bag.

8. Use Packing Organisers

How to Travel Light - Packing Cubes
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One of the best smart tips on how to travel light is to use packing organisers, like compression bags, packing cubes, and stuff sacks. They help maximise space, prevent clothes from getting wrinkled, and organise your essentials by category. On top of that, they make it easier for you to find what you are looking for because each cube has a clear-view window to see what is inside at a glance.

Coming in different sizes, packing cubes limit how many things you can take with you, forcing you to travel light. So, allocate each category of items to a specific packing organiser. You can pack tops in a medium cube, bottoms in a big one, and socks and underclothes in a small one. You can also use small cubes for toiletries, accessories, and medications. However, make sure you use only a few compression cubes to prevent adding extra weight.

9. Pack Simple, Versatile Clothes That Go Well Together

Picking the right pieces of clothes is the most challenging part of packing light. Light clothes are practical when we are out and about. What about bringing fewer items that serve multiple purposes during your travel?

Packing classic pieces in neutral shades, like brown, cream, black, grey, and white, makes you mix and match your clothes easily in terms of colour and style, maximising the number of your outfits. If you bring four tops and three bottoms in simple colours, your travel wardrobe will yield 12 (3*4) outfits.

Another point is that a white T-shirt can go well with a scarf, a cardigan, or a blazer. So, you have three outfits with only one T-shirt. You can also change your look by using a different piece of jewellery each time.

10. Pick the Right Fabrics

Merino wool is your packing friend. It is lightweight and does not retain odour if you wear it multiple times. Cheaper than Merino Wool, performance fabrics are ideal while packing light since they wick away sweat, dry fast, and do not wrinkle. However, you should wash them regularly as they get smelly. On the contrary, Cotton is not the right choice while travelling because it wrinkles fast and gets smelly. 

11. Roll Your Clothes, Do Not Fold Them

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Roll your clothes instead of folding them to avoid gaps and limit the number of bags you take on your trip. Rolling your clothes prevents wrinkles and makes your clothes crease-free. Start with rolling heavier items, like trousers, and layer them at the bottom of your bag. Then, layer lighter items on top. 

12. Wear Bulky Clothes and Pack Layers

Jeans are also not perfect for packing light because they are bulky, but if you must take jeans with you, limit yourself to one pair and wear it on the plane. If you travel in winter, wear your jacket or coat and avoid packing them because they take up much space. However, if you must pack them, use compression packing cubes to shrink their sizes and help you save space.

It is also reasonable to pack versatile layers instead of taking bulky jackets to avoid adding weight to your luggage. On top of that, you can wear a pair of leggings or tights under your clothes to keep you warm. 

13. Pack Multi-Purpose Footwear

The same goes for the shoes you plan to bring. As shoes take up most of the space, only travel with up to two pairs and opt for the ones that match your outfits. Also, consider picking a pair that has more than one purpose.

To save space, pack your sandals or lighter pair and wear your trainers, boots, or bulkier pair. While packing, remember to put your footwear in a shower cap to cover its base and prevent its soles from rubbing against your clothes.

14. Opt for Travel-Size Versions

Packing full-size bottles of shampoo, lotion, or hairspray takes up a lot of space. Look for smaller sizes of these products or buy a small, refillable bottle or atomiser and fill it with the product you want. Travel pillows and water bottles are also space takers. You can get an inflatable pillow and a collapsible bottle when packing light. 

15. Weigh Your Bag

It is hard to know you have packed light if you do not know how many kilograms your bag weighs. So, the most important tip on how to travel light is to use a travel scale and not estimate the weight of your luggage. Weighing your bag at the airport is too late because you will pay for checked luggage if you overpack. It is advantageous to use the scale at home to determine how much your bag weighs before departing. 

Using a scale at home helps you prioritise what you really need. Depending on airline limits, your bag weight should be at most 15 to 23 kg (33 to 50 pounds). Once your bag weighs the maximum, stop packing and remove unnecessary items to make room for essentials. You can even take the scale with you on your trips if you plan on doing some shopping.

Pack Smart and Travel Light

Packing light is a skill you should master. A lightweight bag can manoeuvre in crowded places and save you time and money. So, there you have 15 tips on how to travel light. Following them, you can pack efficiently and travel stress-free, focusing only on essentials. 

How do you pack light on a trip? Share your hacks in the comments below. Happy packing and happy travel!

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