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Travel Light: How to Survive With a Single Bag

Travel Light: How to Survive With a Single Bag

When it comes to packing, less is more. Here’s how to pack only the essentials into a small backpack, duffel, or carry-on.

Travelers are discovering that less is more when it comes to packing clothing and other essentials for their vacations. First of all, carrying lots of heavy bags gets old fast. Plus, having to wait for large, checked baggage at the airport takes time away from your trip (and checking a bag means that there’s a risk of the airline losing it). And then, there’s the cost of checking—you’re talking a minimum of $25 per bag, and up to $100 for additional bags, depending on the airline.

If you’re up for the challenge of packing everything that you need into a single backpack, rolling duffel, or small carry-on suitcase (you can do it!) follow these tips so you can survive with the bare minimum.

Pick the Right Bag

Choosing the proper backpack, duffel, or suitcase is the first key step, because you want to use something that’s an appropriate size and shape. A backpack might be a better choice if you’re bringing a laptop and/or other electronics that should be isolated and protected by padded pockets and sleeves, and easily accessible. For a longer trip, a slightly larger carry-on may be best. Whatever you pick, make sure it’s durable, but also lightweight and comfortable to haul.

Maximize Your Space

You’d be surprised how much you can fit into a single bag with the help of packing cubes, which help you compartmentalize and organize smaller items, and compression sacs, which suck the air out of garments so they take up little room inside your bag.

Choose Items Wisely

Select neutral-colored attire that matches just about anything and can work as part of a casual or dressy outfit. Mix two pairs of pants and three shirts to create six different outfits. There’s often no need to pack more than that, since you can usually do laundry on your trip. Pack at least one short-sleeved and one long-sleeved shirt or lightweight shell, in case the temperature fluctuates. Choose a versatile and comfortable travel shoe that you can dress up or down (Ladies, some of you may want more of a wardrobe option, check out Top Packing Tips and Advice for Women). Limit the amount of toiletries that you bring—see if you can share them with travel companions or find out if the place where you are staying provides any. Bring a small tablet or smartphone instead of a bulky laptop to save space. And don’t stress if you forget something—you can always buy an umbrella, extra toothpaste, or a towel when you arrive at your destination.

Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.

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