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Savvy Packing for Travel

Updated on January 13, 2016

Lose that Extra Weight?

Can't leave home without it? Are you an overpacker? When you're packing for your next trip, two words of advice are: "Lose weight". How do you deal with the insecurity of thinking you can't do without it?

How can you avoid the excess weight and baggage charges that almost every airline now charges? Here are some tips for your luggage diet, making your travel much more flexible and enjoyable, and perhaps less costly.

Step One for Weight Loss

If you're new at this lighter travel, step one is to make a list of all the items you are taking, including the quantities. Toss the list into your bag, and go. Then, while you're away, record anything you forgot, but really needed on that same list.

When you get back home, cross off anything you didn't use, or could have done without. Next trip - go with the pared down list. If you repeat this each trip, you'll soon have your packing down to the bare essentials.

Step Two

Don't take stuff you can buy when you arrive. Pack the smallest possible toiletries, have them in your carry-on (in the now regulatory sealable plastic bag), and buy more when you get there. This step alone can save you a lot of weight.

As far as clothing goes, one seasoned traveler's advice is to pack what you think you need, then unpack, and take half the stuff, and twice the money! This really works if you're traveling somewhere that is a totally different climate and economy from your home. For example, I've never taken a sweater to Ecuador, because you can buy gorgeous hand knits for under $15.

Re-evaluate Your Luggage

Purchase some of the new luggage and accessories that are made of tough light nylon, with wheels. The hybrid backpacks with wheels make it a heck of a lot easier whether you're negotiating the escalators or hiking on rocky trails. Many come with a detachable day pack, and even have built in organizers.

You can also now find 'compression sacks' - put in your clothes, flatten to remove air, seal, and presto - up to 80% more space! Folder bags are available for grouping larger clothing items and reducing creases.Travellers Stores will have these, or you can order them online. Eagle Creek has a good selection of accessories.

If you're buying gifts and souvenirs, then some of the expandable luggage on the market might be what you need. You'll go there light, but come home a bit heavier.

Compression Sacks for Packing

The packing secret weapon. Get up to 80% more space. Segregate the dirty or wet from the clean. Don't leave home without them!
The packing secret weapon. Get up to 80% more space. Segregate the dirty or wet from the clean. Don't leave home without them!

Go With Carry-on

We all seem to be convinced that the airline is going to lose our luggage. And yes, that does happen, and yes, you can probably do just fine with carry-on. Exactly what qualifies as carry-on is nebulous, depending on the airline. 

Check on what the security and airlines regulations allow - both size-wise, and contents, before you buy or travel. Your carry-on is always subjected to search of some kind, and you don't want to have some of your stuff end up in the garbage can.

Lost Luggage

So, on your next trip, breeze through with just your one carry-on bag, and smile to yourself when you pass all those waiting for baggage or struggling with their huge cases. You'll breeze through the airport and be the first one on your way to adventure, light hearted and light weight.

Do you always travel with just carry-on?

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    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I learned many of the valuable tips you include here the hard way on a 2-week trip to England in 2003, and later shared (and more) in

      The downside of traveling light these days, at least when flying, is one **could** be flagged for a thorough frisking for ONLY having a rollaboard with the bare basics inside. Therefore it might be a good idea to carry copies of this hub (and mine!)...just in case. ;D

    • Nolimits Nana profile image

      Nicolette Goff 8 years ago from British Columbia

      Thanks for reading, Jerilee. Carryon for us also.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      Good travel suggestions! Normally, we only travel with carry ons. For longer trips, we just take a limited number of clothing changes and plan on doing laundry wherever. Some of our best times in Italy, Spain, and Asia have been at the laundry mat. Lots of laughs and a glimpse into everyday life that you won't find in the tourist brochures.