How To Travel Light

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If you’ve been looking for unique ways to pack light, you’re in the right spot.

Once you’re done exploring this guide, you won’t have to worry about hauling your home on your back when traveling.

Throughout this guide, you’ll learn the benefits of packing light in addition to various tips that I use along with other travelers to pack lighter bags.

Why You May Want To Pack Light

Packing light isn’t just about meeting weight requirements when at an airport. Packing less and packing light will also benefit you in the following ways:

  • It gives you more room in your bag for souvenirs
  • Use less energy when you’re on the move
  • Less to worry about losing
  • Easier to fit your bags in storage lockers

17 Tips To Help You Travel Light

Throughout this guide, I’ll cover tips that you can utilize to help you make more space in your bags. Moreover, I’ll suggest additional items or services you can purchase to lighten your load and potentially save you money.

1. Digitize When Possible

If you’re an avid reader, you’ll want to consider purchasing digital versions of your books if you haven’t already. While having the feeling of paper crinkle in your fingers whenever you turn a page is amazing, a book takes a lot of room. Moreover, it takes plenty of space.

You could either scan every page in your book and compile the scanned pages into a PDF or use an eReader like a Kindle.

If you don’t have a tablet nor want to purchase an eReader device, you can always find a mobile application and read books on your smart devices.

2. Consider Techwear

Techwear, or technical wear, is lightweight and breathable apparel that uses high-quality materials to help you better withstand the elements. It combines features, modern wear, and specialized fabrics to achieve these results.

Various brands will weave different in-house technologies into this type of wear.

For instance, Icebreaker uses merino wool for its clothing. This type of wool offers better moisture-wicking and breathability than other fabrics while remaining lightweight.

Anyway, I recommend investing in Techwear to lighten the amount of clothing you’ll need to pack. That way, you won’t need to pack a lot of heavy clothing for frigid climates.

3. Utilize All Negative Space in Your Bags

Doing so will help evenly distribute your items throughout your bag, which may make weight distribution less impact on carrying your items. Moreover, when using every bit of space in your bags, you’re able to pack more.

4. Avoid Packing Too Much Clothing

Unless your clothing serves a specific purpose, don’t pack it. If you’re packing a carry-on, I recommend only packing a pair of clothing or two. If you’re going for a one-bag trip, aim for a couple of pairs of clothes.

When packing your luggage, ensure all of your clothing matches in some way so you can mix and match your outfits. Also, to lessen the clothing you pack, ensure you can throw your articles of clothing in a dryer.

Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for your clothing to try, which will require you to have more outfits.

5. Consider Buying Stuff at Your Destination: Avoid Packing Certain Items

If you have a bit of extra money, instead of purchasing travel-sized or TSA-friendly items, you’ll want to consider using that money to buy things at your destination. For instance, if you’re a long-term traveler, consider purchasing toiletries like shampoo in the place you’re going.

It’s likely cheaper and saves you from having to pack more.

However, if you use specific brands or can’t use items with certain ingredients, you may want to skip this step or research what you can buy at your destination.

If you don’t intend on bringing as many items home, you can always find areas you can donate stuff you won’t need anymore, like extra clothing that you purchased or a cooking utensil.

6. Wear Bulky Items on the Plane

If you’re bringing heavier items like boots or jackets, wear them on the plane instead of packing them. You’ll save a lot of space in your baggage, and you can keep yourself toasty during the flight.

7. Buy Lightweight Items

Purchasing lightweight or multipurpose items is the easiest way to reduce the weight in your bags. Moreover, you’ll find having these items helpful if you’re packing a daypack or items for hiking.

8. Set Money Aside for Worst-case Scenarios

Keep money in an emergency fund to buy yourself out of unfortunate scenarios that you may encounter. Whether you would need to replace a phone or pay for a trip to the emergency room.

9. Pack for Best-case Scenarios

While I opt for preventative measures most of the time, if you’re packing light, you will want to lighten some preventive items that you carry. For instance, a backup phone. Only pack what you know you’ll need other than packing for what could happen.

In some instances, you’ll want to carry emergency items that’ll be harder to find in other countries, like a Lifestraw water purifier. I always take this as an emergency water provider in the event of getting lost while hiking.

10. Consider What You Need for the Day: Applicable for Daypacks

If you’re going out for the day, only bring what’s needed. Here’s an example—if you know you’re going to encounter water fountains with clean water throughout the day, don’t bring a refillable water bottle.

Contrary to the advice above, I recommend always carrying the following items:

  • Small first aid kit: to patch wounds and prevent infections
  • Sunscreen: to protect yourself from the sun
  • A dummy wallet: something to give to thieves without sacrificing your real wallet

11. See if Your Accommodation Has a Hairdryer

Hairdryers take a lot of room and can weigh quite a bit—even if you purchase a portable hairdryer. To avoid packing this bulky item, I recommend checking in with your accommodation to see whether they include a hairdryer as an amenity.

If not, and if you don’t want to pack a hairdryer, you can always purchase a cheap one at the place you’re going and donate it once you leave.

12. Opt For Solid Toiletries

Tired of dealing with TSA guidelines for liquids? Consider switching to solid toiletries.

Rather than using gel-based toothpaste, use tooth powder. Or, instead of using body and shampoo creams and gels, use shampoo bars and soap bars.

These items require less room than their liquid counterparts. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about the packaging leaking into your bags. 

Unfortunately, I’ve found too much conflicting information about whether solid or liquid toiletries will last longer.

13. Skip Organizers

You don’t need to purchase packing cubes to organize your luggage. You can avoid burrowing through your bags whenever you need a specific item with the correct item placement.

However, if bag organizers are essential, they don’t take much weight. So you could purchase these if needed.

Pack Smart and You’ll Find Yourself Happier Throughout Your Trip

Hopefully, out of all of these tips, you found something that you haven’t tried yet to lighten your bags. Only pack what you need and consider setting money aside to purchase items at your destination or to bail yourself out of sketchy situations you encounter.

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