Packing light is essential for anyone looking to travel easier. Smaller luggage is easier to carry through an airport, and minimal luggage lowers travel stress also. Recently, when I was returning home on a flight from Dallas, my flight was outright cancelled. Instead of worrying how to retrieve my luggage out of the airline’s hands, I was able to walk myself and my luggage over to my newly booked flight. My luggage was easy to manage and still had everything I needed. Keeping your suitcases light can lighten your load, physically and mentally. Here are some tips on packing light like a pro.
Choose Your Bag Wisely
Pick a bag that is small enough to fit under an airline seat, but roomy enough for you to maximize your packing. A bag with approximate dimensions of 16″ x 14″ x 12″ should fit under an airline seat without problems. You can still choose to stow it in the overhead, but knowing it will fit under the seat will make it easier to board a crowded flight. A backpack or a good tote bag can fit this bill. Look for a bag with a few outside pockets. This makes is easy to access your cell phone, wallet, and other essentials during your travels.
Plan Your Clothes
Choosing which clothes to bring on a trip can make or break your light packing plan. Pick outfits that can mix and match, so you will only need a few tops and bottoms. Make sure the clothes you pack are lightweight fabrics that fold and compress to save space. Choose tops that you can either dress up or wear more casual with just a change of a small accessory. Pare down the shoes you will need to only two pairs if possible (and one pair you will wear on the plane). Sandals, flats, or flip-flops do not take up a lot of space, so consider them. Wear your bulkiest outfit and shoes during your travels, so that you can save the space in your luggage. I love packing jeans on a trip, but they are usually bulky, so I always wear my jeans and tennis shoes on travel day. If I am going somewhere cold, I will wear a sweater that can work as a jacket too. Pictured below is everything I packed for my recent trip to Dallas. It includes three outfits (one worn on the plane), two pairs of shoes (one pair worn on plane), swimsuit, running clothes & gear, jiu jitsu clothes, pj’s, lingerie, and my cosmetic bag. I had a lot of room left over in my bag, and could have easily fit more!
Pare Down Your Toiletries
Cosmetics, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, razors, lotions, medications. All these items can take up valuable space in your luggage. Don’t start tossing items from your bathroom into your suitcase! Instead, reduce the size of your toiletries. Visit the travel section of Target or Wal-Mart and buy the smaller items for your toiletries if possible. Use small, refillable containers for your other toiletries. I use contact lens cases or emptied (and washed) eye cream containers for storage. These hold medicine, vitamins, liquid foundation, or moisturizer. These tiny containers can save space in your luggage! The more items you can reduce their size, the more space you will maximize. The travel toothbrushes and hairbrushes will make a big difference in your carry on. Take the time to separate liquids into a small Ziploc bag for airport security. Then keep this bag separate in an outside pouch of your luggage for easy access. The rest of the items can go into a small cosmetic bag.
Load Your Bag
Here’s where the fun comes in. Have you ever played Tetris? Just kidding… But taking the time to load your bag will also save on your precious luggage space. Divide your items into small groups. I usually put an outfit or two in one group, workout clothes in another, and pajamas and lingerie in a third. Place those groups into small bags. The best way is to use large gallon Ziploc bags with the air squeezed out. A plastic grocery bag will work also (just compress some of the air out). This is a great way to keep your items organized and taking up less space during your trip. It will also keep anything from falling out if you tip over your bag. If a pair of shoes cannot compress down flat, then use that space to stow your socks or other small items. Place the shoes in the bottom or sides of the bag for structure and stability. Then start layering in your bundled gallon Ziploc bags. Add in your toiletries and liquids bag also. If possible, travel with a purse that is small enough to fit inside your luggage bag to reduce how many bags you have to carry. I also always leave enough room for a paperback and a few snacks.
Enjoy Your Trip!
Once you have gotten the hang of packing light, you will love your new ease and freedom of traveling! Loading up your car, getting through security, boarding crowded planes, and stowing your bag will all be easier with pared down luggage. So get ready to choose your next adventure and test out your light packing skills! Just make sure any souvenirs you buy are small enough to take home 😉
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