Find out how to whittle down the contents of your luggage to a far more manageable size and weight—without missing any precious cargo.
Ready to lose the bulk of that heavy, overstuffed suitcase and experience the freedom that comes with traveling light? Here’s how to whittle down your travel bag without really giving up the things you need and want most on the road.
1. Chose the right bag
Do you usually travel to cities where your bag will only see paved roads and backs of taxis? If so, a rolling suitcase may be your best option. If your travels take you on dirt roads and onto backs of crowded buses, a lightweight backpack should be your go-to luggage. Either way, be sure to pick a model that won’t add bulk: The Load Warrior 22 weighs in at only 5 lbs 13 oz (2.6 kg) and can easily hold all of the clothes and travel accessories of the minimalist traveler. Ultra on-the-go travelers may perfect the 2 lb 9 oz (1.2 kg) Systems Go Backpack, which was designed to work specifically with Pack-It™ Cubes, making it ultra organized.
2. Lose the Bulky Wallet
Before you leave, clean out your wallet of all useless junk (old receipts, grocery store cards, business cards, random foreign currency from past travels) and leave anything you don’t need (additional credit cards, etc) at home. Consider getting an undercover neck wallet, which can securely hold money, credit cards, and your passport while making them easily accessible.
3. Pack a Tablet Rather Than a Computer
Packing a tablet rather than a laptop can save you space and weight, while ensuring that you still have access to your email (and perhaps more importantly Twitter and Facebook!).
4. Ditch the Bulky Travel Books
Hitting the road without a guidebook is a thrilling concept to some. To others, it’s a logistical nightmare. If you’re not a fan of traveling to a new city without a destination guide, consider loading up your tablet with eBook versions of popular travel guides. Download to your hearts content without adding to the weight of your luggage!
5. Upgrade to a Tablet Bag
Replace your purse or shoulder bag with a lightweight Tablet Bag. With an assortment of pockets, it can hold all of your travel documents and provide hands-free movement, ensuring you never miss a photo-op. With lockable zippers on the main compartments, you can feel safe boarding crowded metros and cramped streets. Although be warned, you may be asked for directions since you’re suddenly walking with the confidence of a local!
6. Buy Toiletries When You Arrive
If you’re traveling with another person for over a week, or by yourself for more than two, consider buying toiletries at your destination. The money you save by avoiding the cost of checking your bag far exceeds the cost of buying shampoo at your destination. Plus, it can be a fun cultural experience exploring the products offered in foreign destinations. Did you know that you can buy bread-scented shampoo in Russia? If you’re worried about going product-less while you locate a drugstore, bring travel-sizes that can last you a few days.
7. Choose the Right Shoes
Few things add weight and bulk to a bag more easily than shoes. If you’re traveling somewhere cold, wear your heavier boots during the journey there, rather than placing them in your bag. For warmer leisure travel, find a pair of comfortable-but-stylish walking shoes and some versatile flats (for women). If you must pack heels, choose one pair that can compliment any outfit and remember: heels and cobblestone streets don’t mix.
8. Pack for Your Itinerary, Not for Your Destination
Before filling your suitcase, think about your travel plans and pack accordingly. Hitting the beach for one day? Only bring one swimsuit. Going out for a single fancy dinner? No need to pack three dresses or dress shirts. Be realistic in your clothing choices. After all, the joy of traveling is in meeting new people—and we bet no one is going to notice (or care) if you’re wearing the same outfit twice.
9. Roll Your Clothes
Okay, so it doesn’t always save weight, but there’s road-tested value in this space saving hack. By compressing your clothes, you can conserve a lot of room—meaning you may be able to get away with a lightweight carry-on rather than a big checked bag. Unfortunately, clothes have a tendency to shift during travel, meaning what started as an organized bag is often a cluttered mess upon arrival. To avoid the resorting process, invest in a Pack-It™ Starter Set. These ingenious little bags compartmentalize your rolled and folded clothes, ensuring sure your bag stays organized. No longer will you have to worry about your clean clothes getting mixed up with your dirty ones, or your shoes rubbing all over your white shirt. Freedom!
10. Embrace Your Natural Hair
Packing a hair dryer, hair curler and a straightener—in addition to your universal adapter—can easily add 10 pounds to your bag. Consider embracing your natural wave during your time away and washing your hair at night so that it’s dry by morning. If this idea is mortifying to you, consider asking your travel companions to share responsibility of packing pluggable items with you. You bring the hair dryer and they can bring the straightener. Kumbaya!
Do you have any tricks for packing lighter? Share them with us in the comments below!
Ashley Hardaway is a Washington, D.C.-based travel writer and the author Ukraine (Other Places Publishing's Guide)
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Systems Go Backpack
Pack-It™ Starter Set
How to Master Last-Minute Packing
How to Share Luggage With Travel Partner
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