To be a green traveler, there is one true “must.” You must pack light. Here we have listed our top 11 tips for packing light for wherever you might be going. Try a few of these best practices for packing and lighten your load.
Trying to pack light
Most of us start out wanting to be and striving to be light packers. We make lists, set goals, and prepare to want and need less stuff on our travels. But the reality is, it is really hard to do. In the past, I know if I had extra room in my luggage, I was thrilled. It became an opportunity to pack more stuff — after all, I had the room, so why not?
Reasons to pack light
You will endure less stress on your body the less you carry and tote around with you. And the less baggage you have and the lighter it is, the less fuel will be needed to get it from place to place. Also remember when you are on your journey that the more you bring with you means the more you have to manage and account for and repack and sort through. Lighter and less is best.
Best tips for packing light
The earlier you begin to pack, the more time you will have to take out what you don’t need. And let’s face it – it’s too easy to overpack the first time around.
Choose the Best Bag or Luggage for You
There are a lot of great travel bags, luggage and weekender totes available. Pick the best for your needs. Carry only the largest size you need. If you have one that is too big, either bring a smaller one or leave some of it empty. Resist the urge to fill it up just because you have the space. Here are the types of bags we own.
Sturdy Bags: I prefer American Tourister Luggage AT Pop 3 Piece Spinner Set, Black, 29/25/21
Best Backpack or Weekender Bag: We love the Under Armour Hustle II Backpack the best. It’s small but sturdy and even has a laundry pocket. We love the range of colors as well.
One Take-it-With-You Bag: I carry a fold up bag in my purse which works great for quick trips to the market. It is made from an easy-to-wash and dry fabric and hardly takes any space. It’s great for saving on using plastic bags too.
Learn to Roll Clothes and Bundle Pack
Rolling clothes and bundle wrapping them (essentially wrapping everything around a central object) makes for fewer wrinkles and takes up less space – which allows you to pack a smaller and lighter piece of luggage.
Ditch the Guidebooks
Guidebooks can be extremely heavy. By leaving them at home your bag will not only weigh less, but you’ll be more likely to get off the beaten path. If you insist on guidance for your journey, take a look at these 12 Paper-Free Guidebooks. There are great travel apps too. Going on a cruise? There are cruise apps. Going hiking? There are helpful hiking apps and even apps about eco-friendly travelling. You won’t even need to bring a big travel dictionary with these translation apps though a small one might still be practical.
Stick with One Color
Coordinating your clothes around one central color scheme means you have to pack fewer shirts, pants, and shoes. Black or brown are smart choices.
Learn the Rule of 3’s
Bring 3 shirts. Depending on the climate, bring 3 long and/or 3 short sleeve shirts. Why? When you bring 3 shirts you won’t be wearing what you wore yesterday. Honestly, three shirts is all you need. When I traveled around Europe for six weeks I wore the same 3 shirts, over and over and over. (Yes, I was ready to never see those shirts again!)
Bring Light and Quick-Drying Underwear and Socks
I recently purchased 2 pairs of Ex-Officio Underwear. I’m going to use only these two pairs for an entire 3-week trip. Socks and underwear take up a lot of space and can weigh down your bag, so bring as few of these as possible.
Learn to Layer
Layering is the key to packing light. Why bring a heavy coat when a fleece over a long-sleeve shirt over a t-shirt will do?
2+1 Shoes Rule
1 pair hiking/tennis shoes
1 pair nice shoes (your flip flops can do in a pinch!)
1 pair flip-flops or sandals (they don’t really count as shoes right?)
Bonus tip: Make sure your shoes match your color choice.
Toiletries: If you don’t already own it, buy it there
You can buy brand-name toiletries and cosmetics almost anywhere in the world. And with stricter environmental laws in the EU your toiletries available may be more environmentally-friendly. So if you don’t already own something, buy it when you arrive.
Wear the Same Items
The number one rule for packing light is to leave your variety-needing, self-conscious self (the one with a desire to look not only your best, but also different on a day-to-day basis) at home. When you travel you can literally wear the same thing everyday and most people won’t bat an eye.
Easy tips for packing light
When you really think about the essential items you need, these tips for packing light will be easy to follow and to stick to when it comes time to pack. It may take some time packing and repacking to get it down to the essentials but it is possible. Read here for our Ultimate Guide to Packing Light.