We all struggle to decide what to take on holiday and it always invariably ends up with the situation of either squeezing your suitcase shut or leaving an ‘essential’ behind.
Is it even possible to pack light? Well in short – yes – we’ve asked 21 expert travellers for their top tips to help you next time you go away:
Adam at Travels of Adam
Want to pack light? Easy! Just pack your bag in the hours before you depart and you’ll find that it’s substantially lighter than you were probably expecting. Whether it’s because you forgot something (oops!) or because you just don’t have the time to deliberate every item, it saves you time and keeps you from breaking your back!
Laurel at Monkeys & Mountains
Quick dry clothing – it’s light and because it dries quickly you need to bring less of it. If I want to travel really light all I bring is two pairs of everything – wear one while washing the other one.
Nicole at My Itchy Travel Feet
Packing light means taking less. So I have a rule for the clothing that goes in my luggage: if I can’t wear it at least twice, the item goes back in the closet. It’s easy to dress up simple basics like black pants and a black top with scarves, jewelry or a jacket. But I better be able to wear that jacket at least twice or it stays at home.
Phil at Sick on the Road
Restrict yourself to carry-on only luggage. This gives you two pieces of luggage to work with, yet at the same time there is a size restriction that prevents you from overdoing it. An added bonus: you don’t have to worry about the airline losing your bags!
Jane at Runaway Jane
I always advise people to pack double the amount of (under)pants they think they will need and half of all the other clothes. Undies are really the only thing you can’t wear twice, but with everything else you could probably get at least 1 more wear out of it, occasionally more. I’d much rather pack more pants (which take up less space than other clothes) and have less of everything else to lessen the load! 🙂
Corrine at Have Baby Will Travel
It is admittedly difficult to pack light when you’re traveling with children (especially babies and toddlers) but what has helped us immensely is to bring items that can be washed and reused quickly and easily, so the addition of a small container of soap is less to carry. If you’ve got a bottle-fed baby in tow, switching to the drop in liners for bottles mean less equipment to pack (and wash).
Matt at Matt-Gibson.org
When I travel I wear almost exclusively synthetic quick-dry clothing. It’s functional, light, packs small, looks good, appears relatively unwrinkled when you pull it out of a jam-packed bag, and dries quickly if you need to wash it and hang it up in your hotel room.
I always carry several nylon bags to separate different items in my bag. I stuff them, compress, them, and then pack them. They’re like drawers for my backpack.
Simon at Man Versus World
If you’re wondering whether you need to pack your pink sombrero then you really probably shouldn’t. And the same goes with everything – if you’re on the fence about whether you should pack something, be decisive and leave it behind. You can always pick up a new pink sombrero somewhere else…
James at Nomadic Notes
Kindle – I always used to travel with books so having a Kindle has saved space and weight in my carry-on bag, and I will never run out of reading material again.
Johnny at One Step 4ward
Buy a smaller backpack. If you travel with a 70 litre back, you’ll fill it. An 80 litre pack? You’ll fill it. Restrict yourself from the outside, buy a pack around 55 litres, then fill it all you want. That way you literally can’t take too much.
Andrew at Plum Deluxe
It’s nearly unanimous: the worst part of traveling is packing for it. Most people over-engineer this process, spending time filling their suitcase with various gadgets and gear designed to supposedly organize and streamline their suitcase. The result is often just more fluff and filler than help. First, remember your top 2 priorities: cash & cards plus documents (passports, visas). Everything else you can find or replace if you need it. Then, focus on key items that are multipurpose, like clothes that layer well.
Erica at Travel Blissful
For packing light, the carry-on is your best friend. And with limited space, everything counts. Consider multi-function clothing (such as the Versalette, if you’re a woman), only bring color-matching items, pack a week’s worth of clothing regardless of how long you will travel, and avoid just-in-case items.
Matt at Travel with a Mate
My top tips for packing light would be to pack everything you think you need first, then review each item you’ve packed and think whether you really need to take it. You can also lighten the load easily depending on the country you’re going to. For instance if you’re heading to somewhere in South East Asia you can easily buy more clothes very cheaply while you’re there so there’s no need to carry all of yours from home. If you want to reduce the amount of cables and chargers you have to carry I advise only buying gadgets that charge through a USB port. Instead of carrying all the plugs you can just use your laptop (if you’re taking one) or just take one USB charger plug as it’ll work for all your devices.
Chris at Amateur Traveler
I always travel with a carry-on and a backpack. My computer and electronics go in the backpack and stay with me just in case my suitcase needs to get gate checked. I never pack more than 7-10 days clothes, even for a 5 week trip. There are laundry facilities all over the world. I pack a zip lock bag with some detergent so I don’t have to buy it. In addition the detergent will help your suitcase smell a little better after a few weeks on the road.
Annette at Ms Listologist
When I need to pack light, I always start by picking a color scheme for the clothing I want to bring. Sometimes black and grey, or white, black and beige. This way, if everything I bring fits into my color scheme, I can create a dozen looks with only a handful of items.
Audrey at That Backpacker
If like me you enjoy reading while on holiday, you know how easy it is for a backpack to gain a few kilos by just throwing a couple of books in. In order to lighten load, consider bringing a Kindle along instead. It’s lighter than any paperback you could pick up yet it can hold hundreds of books!
Ian at Love Affair Travel
Only take Carry-On Luggage – I’ve been traveling for nearly 5 years now and I’ve slowly learned that the less I bring, the better my trip goes.
Big bags make you much more fragile while on the road. You are more needy when leaving an airport, if you take a bus you have to store the bag away from you. You also risk missing opportunities do act quickly (e.g. jump in a new acquaintances car full of friends, hitch hike, ride a horse or motorbike, check out a crowded restaurant… the list is endless)
Most importantly, I’ve never been to a country that didn’t have clothes, electronics or anything else I had stored in my bag. Travel light, travel fast, travel fun. It is a bit more scary to set off without things, but it pays double throughout the journey.
Jocelyn at As We Travel
Try to pack as light as possible and be realistic about what you will and won’t actually need on your trip. It can be tempting to pack for all possible occasions and weather eventualities but in those cases, you’re not going to use half of what you’re carrying. As for luggage, buy an approved “carry-on sized bag” so you know the measurements are correct, and bring a hand scale with you so you can make sure your bag weighs under the maximum limit.
Aaron at Happy Time Blog
Packing light is a fine art, starting with a smaller backpack is the best way to do it but I would say my top tip is leave the guidebooks at home, wherever you go there will be second hand bookshops where you can pick one up for your current destination and to be honest even if it’s a few years old you’ll find it’s just as useful as the current ones… That’s how quick places change.
Christy at Ordinary Traveler
My biggest tip for packing light is to think about your outfits before you leave! I used to just throw my favorite shirts and jeans/skirts in my bag and then realized I was left with a bunch of things that don’t go together. Pick a skirt, pair of shorts, or jeans that will go with all of your tops and then it will look like you are wearing a new outfit every day. For girls, pack light dresses if you are traveling somewhere warm. Sometimes a bikini and a couple of dresses is all you need!
Ted from Traveling Ted
I recommend that travelers send back home things they do not need to carry. I spent three months in Southeast Asia backpacking, and my pack got heavier and heavier as the trip progressed. I had many items in my pack that I never used and many souvenir items that I bought that I was not going to use on the trip. The best thing I did was to find a post office in Bangkok and send items I did not need back home.