HOW TO PACK LIGHT AND DITCH THE CHECKED BAGS
Packing light is one of the most liberating things you can do. The hassle and risk of checking luggage is the last thing you need while traveling abroad. We will show you how to pack light and liberate yourself from the stuff.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from all our travels, it’s that less is more. This pertains to a lot of things but most importantly, how to pack light. The burden of a big bag on crowded buses and streets can be a real drag. Not to mention the outrageous check-on fees. These all can be avoided with an appropriately packed travel bag.
Now I realize I’m not going to talk everyone into ditching their checked bags but I’m gonna try. Traveling abroad is complicated and there is no better way to ease your way into a new country than with a light bag.
DO YOU REALLY NEED ALL THAT STUFF
When you get off that flight in your new country with a whole new culture and language, there‘s no better sense of security than knowing all your belongings are with you. No standing at baggage claim hoping your bag made the numerous connecting flights.
Travel is about gaining those meaningful experiences and has little to do with belongings. In fact, taking a break from our culture of excess is an important benefit of travel.
Being free and weightless from all your stuff back home is what makes travel so relaxing. By keeping things light and simple with your packing you won’t clutter your trip with too much stuff and the stress that comes with it.
BENEFITS OF PACKING LIGHT
- Easy to get around – Cabs, buses, and walking are just easier with a light bag
- $hit happens – When things go wrong always having your bag with you is essential. Canceled flights and missed connections get stressful real quick when you don’t have your bag.
- Baggage fees – Checked baggage fees are a complete waste and can be avoided altogether with a light pack.
- Vacation from the stuff – Surrounding yourself with less stuff, fewer choices, and less worry is a real treat. It frees you to focus on what matters, your travels.
HOW TO PACK LIGHT
Packing light is more a state of mind than anything else. You can roll, squish, and squeeze your stuff all day long but if you take too much you’ve missed the point. Be realistic about what you actually need and chose items that will work for both casual and formal dress.
- Use packing cubes or roll your clothes. I prefer to use a packing cube and then roll that up. These also come in handy to separate clean and dirty clothes.
- Don’t pack bulky things like sweatshirts. Use layers of clothing instead. This will better cover you over a wider range of temps as well. Or perhaps you can wear the bulkier clothing on the flight.
- Don’t forget that you can always buy things wherever you are going. Sometimes I’ll pack just half the shirts I need knowing that I’ll grab a few as souvenirs.
- Don’t worry about planning for every possible weather scenario. On many trips, you may have warm beach weather down low but up high things get cold. For those days when you go to the high country just pick up an extra layer or two and then give them away once you’re done with that part of the trip.
- Laundry services are everywhere so don’t bring enough clothes to get you through the entire trip.
Usuallya week’s worth is enough.
- If you aren’t familiar with Solid Shampoo and Conditioner then you’d better check them out. They look like bars of soap but are actually shampoo/conditioner and work really well. They save a ton of space and weight and you don’t have to worry about things spilling. They make a similar item called Toothy Tabs that take the place of toothpaste.
- Take time packing. Don’t do this the night before you leave because you will most likely forget stuff and pack way too much.
ESSENTIAL PACKING LIGHT TRICKS
Here are some of our favorite products that make for
DITCH THE LIQUIDS
When it comes to packing light one of the major hurdles to get over are the liquids. Not only do they weigh a lot but you can’t take large quantities of liquid as a
Download Our his & hers travel packing list
Print this packing list and throw it in your bag so you'll be good to go for your next trip.
CLOTHING THAT MAKES SENSE
FOR THE GUYS
For the guys here are a couple pieces that I really like. They function well when hot or wet and the pants with layering work great in the cold.
THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL SHORTS
These can be as dressy or as casual as you want. Dry super quick and a perfect everyday short. The hidden waist drawcord makes them great for swimming. They also come in a TON of colors, over 12 to be exact!
- 21″ Outseam
- 140% Hyperfreak stretch
- Hyperdry Durable Water Repellent
- Zipper fly
- Internal waistband drawcord
- Front hand pockets with zippers
- 89% Polyester / 11% Elastane
- Belt loops
- button rear pocket
- You can pull off dressy if you need but make for a great all day hiker as well.
- Quick to dry in that unplanned rain storm and I’ve even
swamin them in a pinch.
- Single side cargo pocket where I keep my journal for easy access.
- Integrated belt or you could add your own.
- Come in a variety of colors
clothing for the ladies
This stretchy yet stylish pant that is perfect for any occasion.
The pigment-dyed nature of the fabric creates a distressed look such that colors and patterns can vary—each and every pair is unique.
Kuhl’s Mova Women’s Skinny Pants look like
You won’t want to
IF YOU MUST CHECK A BAG…
Have you ever had your baggage lost? While the lost baggage rates are improving it’s still worth planning for should something happen. My wife and I on our honeymoon to Peru had to wait 3 days for my bag to arrive. That was the last time I ever check a bag.
If checking a bag is part of your plan just make sure you have a carry-on that would keep you comfortable for a few days. Here are some essential items to keep in your carry-on to get you through a night without your luggage.
- Medications – prescriptions and OTC meds
- Toiletries – personal items, contacts, razors, toothbrush and toothpaste
- Clothing – Pack a little clothing so that you aren’t stuck wearing what you took on the plane with you. Pack whatever would make sense to wear for your destination.
- Entertainment – books, magazines, or whatever else you might want while sitting (hopefully around the pool) waiting for your luggage to arrive.
- Electronic stuff – Cell phones, computers, e-readers, and
- Booking confirmations and phone numbers
BEST CARRY-ON TRAVEL BACKPACK
For the actual carry-on bag itself my wife and I have tried many. But without a doubt these are our two favorites.
They both have stow-able shoulder straps to make squeezing them in as a carry on easier. We both have over 5 years on these bags and can vouch for their durability.
- The Osprey 40 Farpoint has served me well. It has a large suitcase style opening with internal straps to help compress and secure things so they don’t bunch up at the bottom.
- Plenty of small storage compartments and a padded laptop area.
- The shoulder straps and waist belt tuck away into a zippered compartment so you can have a clean bag for carry-on storage.
The only exception to us using the above bags would be if we had a long trek planned. For those we would stick with a more traditional backpacking style pack.
If trekking is on the list check out our trekking packing list here.
Depending on where you’re traveling, clean water can be a big concern. A SteriPen can make a big difference and keep your water safe. Best of all you won’t have to buy all that bottled water
Packing is very personal and there certainly isn’t one list for everyone. The above items and my approach to packing has worked well for me in many different countries. Be sure to write down what you take in your travel journal so that the next time you won’t be starting from scratch.