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Tips On Travelling Light: Packing Tips

Updated on April 4, 2016

For those of us who enjoy travelling, we are completely familiar with the "golden rule" when it comes to packing - "travel light", unless you have your own private jet. If you do really have your own private jet, then you probably might not even comprehend the concept of travelling light and hopefully this article would furnish you with an idea of what it means, only, of course, if you even bother to read on.

"Pack only what is necessary" is the concept of travelling light easily understood. Unfortunately, this simple concept is arduous to achieve. Dilemmas are bound to surface and that is when the line between necessities and extras become increasingly blurred. The rudimentary items on the list somehow manage to burgeon into a family of their own as rapidly as the growth of fungi, fuelled by "I cannot do without this" and "If I'm already taking this, I might as well take this" phrases. There're the hair curlers that are needed to get the bangs for that oh-so-pretty look and the extra skin-hydrating lotions and accessories that hopefully would not contribute to the palpable bulkiness of the luggage. Perhaps the most challenging issue we all encounter is the "what-ifs." What if I were invited to a black-tie event that calls for an elegant evening gown/tuxedo? What if my only umbrella suddenly malfunctions in the middle of a heavy rainfall? What if the hotel room does not have enough hangers for my clothes? And the list goes on.

In all, the packing process is the most difficult part for many - torturing for the style-conscious, stressful for the ones who constantly doubt, daunting for the perfectionists, frustrating for the indecisives, and exasperating for the rest who do not fall into any of the above categories.

Below is a list of my guidelines to packing light, which I have built upon the advices of others and from my own personal experiences. Hopefully, it would help provide a practical objective to alleviate most packing woes, except for the part where self-control is concerned.

  • Make a list This is the first crucial step to take when it comes to packing because if you do not pack with a list, you are bound to either over-pack or under-pack. Besides, having a list makes it easier to review the items and any surplus material can then be effortlessly spotted and crossed out.
  • "One-bag rule" Travelling light means having just one suitcase. So it is more practical to go with one large suitcase than with two small suitcases. If you are travelling by air, be sure to research the airline's luggage weight and size limits, especially if you are carrying a hand luggage. A bag with lots of organizer pouches would definitely come in handy too.
  • Get/Plan an itinerary Knowing the places you will be visiting helps you plan the number and types of outfits to suit the occasions. Such as if St. Peter's Basilica is on your itinerary, you'll then know that you cannot just be packing shorts and sleeveless tees even if it is summer during your visitation, or if you were to attend a religious event, a scarf would be needed to cover your head.
  • Check the weather forecast Be aware of the seasons and the highs and lows of the temperature of your destination. It may be winter in the north but summer in the south. If you are heading far into the northern hemisphere, bring a jacket or a coat even though it is summer as temperatures can drop tremendously during the nights. And if you are packing for a summer getaway, don't even consider packing black garments.
  • Go for double-duty items Bring multi-functional wear and accessories, such as scarves, which can also serve as shawls to shield yourself from the chilly winds or scorching sun, or as headscarves when you travel in opened automobiles or attend religious events. But the best double-duty items are convertibles as they offer style, versatility, functionality, and lastly, practicality. Dresses that roll into skirts or blouses and handbags that transform into clutch purses or shoulder bags are some of the great must-haves.
  • Big items first Pack all your largest and bulkiest items first before filling and cramming the remaining small and flexible items among them. This method ensures maximum use of the amount of your suitcase's space.
  • Don't roll all your clothes Although many packing tips suggest you roll all your clothes to minimize space usage, I never find that practical. In fact, such technique uses up more room. My advice is to stack up your folded clothes into one corner of your suitcase till the top piece touches the your suitcase's cover when closed, and then only start to roll all the remaining pieces to fill in the gaps and odd spaces. As for the rolled-clothes-don't-crease-as-much-as-folded-clothes theory, I don't see how that works as rolled up garments always end up more crinkled that folded garments neatly pressing on top on one another.
  • Don't leave your boots and booties empty You would be wasting a lot of valuable space if you do so. Stuff them with small objects that are in plastic bags so as not to transfer the shoes' odour to the things. Boots are especially useful as protectives for souvenirs and breakable items.
  • Bring only one umbrella A foldable one, of course. Do not worry about your umbrella malfunctioning when you need it as that rarely happens. But if such an incident does occur, you can get a new one from a local shop. Better still, ditch the umbrella and opt for a raincoat.
  • Ebook v. paperbacks Go for the ebook. This is one technological blessing for travellers. Most ebooks can store up to hundreds or thousands of books, more than you can read during your entire vacation.
  • Forget the shampoos, soaps, & towels All hotels provide these. Unless you have to use a particular brand or product, these are NOT NECESSARY. Most shampoos supplied by hotels these days come with conditioner too. However, if you will be lodging in motels or hostels, it is better to check with the management before your trip whether or not they provide such utilities.
  • Invest in travelling toiletries The reason such petite toiletries came into existence was to cater for travelling light. I have come across many who pointed out that such toiletries are not worth their purchases as they are undeniably costlier and not so economical, but what is the point of lugging the excess weight and space of an average tube of toothpaste or a bigger bottle of lotion that will not be even be used. Anyway, airlines now have strict restrictions on packing liquids, so I guess to purchase or not to purchase travelling toiletries is no longer an option.
  • Regular toothbrush will do Remember, simple is the rule. A huge electric toothbrush does no justice when it comes to travelling light.
  • Flip-flops If you are heading somewhere tropical that requires only flip-flops, wear a pair that is both comfortable and versatile to suit all of your outfits such as a white or black colored pair, and bring another pair spare.
  • Packing medication Hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes should be in your handbag or backpack, not you luggage. But other spare flu, cough, and sore throat medication should be packed in small amounts as these are only to aid temporarily before getting a sufficient amount of medication at a local drugstore should the occasion deem them necessary.
  • Have the massives on you Wear the biggest of whatever you intend to bring. Yes, the bulkiest clothes, the highest boots, the largest handbag. That way, your bag will have more room to pack more stuff.

  • Pack an extra bag It may seem as if I am beginning to sound impractical here, but trust me, you will be thankful for sparing a place in your suitcase for this additional bag at the end of your trip when you have to transport all your shopping and souvenirs home considering that your primary luggage is already jam-packed from day one. My favorite type is the foldable duffel that can be fitted onto the base of my suitcase before all my other stuff are packed on top of it.

Whew..wouldn't it be easier if we could each own a private jet. But that would probably not materialize for the most of us. So, happy packing and good luck!

First published on November 9, 2011


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    • profile image


      9 months ago from Harrisburg Pa

      I have found that some hotels do not offer shampoo, shaving cream etc. Especially at budget priced hotels. Try to find out before booking and if they don't. I use 3 or 4 ounce bottles usually costing around $1.50 each then put my shampoo, body wash etc in those. The travel size toiletries do cost the hotels money and pass the cost to the customer.

      Some of my travels I could use a bus converted to a motor home.

    • Carmen H profile imageAUTHOR

      Carmen Beth 

      6 years ago

      Happy to know that these tips suit your profession. Thanks for sharing my hub too, Skyler.

    • Skyler Meyer profile image

      Skyler Meyer 

      6 years ago from 297 Garlington Rd Unit A Greenville, SC 29615

      Thanks for the tips Carmen.. Your tips is really suited to me as a Photographer since I'm always taking photos.. I will bookmark this, voted and shared hub. :)

    • Carmen H profile imageAUTHOR

      Carmen Beth 

      6 years ago

      Hi Stephanie, thanks for your time and comment. You are not alone with your problem of an increasingly swelling luggage pile, I'm certain. But I guess if one is not packing for a single backpacking trip then one is still at leisure to pack a few extras: )

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      I always intend to travel light, but somehow, my pile of stuff to pack keeps growing! Having just come back from a last minute 4 day trip, I agree that it's best to leave the shampoos, conditioners, etc. at home. Your suggestion for putting rolled items around folded items makes so much sense, too.

    • Carmen H profile imageAUTHOR

      Carmen Beth 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the compliment, Ercolano : )

    • Ercolano profile image

      Sam Walker 

      7 years ago

      Interesting article, after years of travelling, I finally got it right myself though with much of this going on. Great advice.

    • Carmen H profile imageAUTHOR

      Carmen Beth 

      7 years ago

      So glad that you find this hub useful, SanneL. Thanks for taking the time to stop by : )

    • SanneL profile image


      7 years ago from Sweden

      Great advice for someone like me, who can't draw the line between necessities and extras!

      Bookmarked! I need it next time I'll be traveling.

      Useful and thanks!:)

    • Carmen H profile imageAUTHOR

      Carmen Beth 

      7 years ago

      I guess most of us travellers have somewhat acquired the basic strategy of packing light through our experiences. Thanks for the comment, REALfoodie.

    • REALfoodie profile image

      C De Melo 

      7 years ago from Florence, Italy and WORLDWIDE

      Good advice. Since I spend so much time travelling, I have learned to pack VERY light. Taking only what I really need and easy to wash /wear clothing makes life so much easier.


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