Traveling is such a fantastic way to experience the world. You’ll get to meet new people, try new dishes and steep yourself in exotic cultures. But one mistake many travelers – especially first-time travelers – make is to overpack their travel bags.
Overpacking can make your trip around the world very cumbersome. It can increase your travel costs and create problems in storage when you’re unable to find the right type of accommodation. Plus, if you are lugging your heavy bags everywhere you go, you won’t even be able to enjoy the sights.
So, to help you have a memorable and enjoyable travel experience, we’ve made a detailed guide to packing lightly for your travels.
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1. Choose a smaller backpack to begin with
When you select a small backpack to pack your items, you’ll automatically choose things that are a priority. The real estate in smaller bags is high, and you won’t be tempted to cram in everything you can find. A backpack that can handle a load range of 35lbs to 60lbs is best.
2. Create lists based on priority
Next, start making lists of items you think you need to carry and sort them by priority. Then, do some research about the places you’re visiting to find out if you will get access to specific items or not. These days, global trade ensures that you’ll find most things in most places. So, you may not need to carry everything necessary right from home. Instead, consider which items you can purchase on location when you reach your destinations.
3. Remove packaging of items if they can be stored directly
The packaging box can eat up a lot of space in your backpack and increase your carry bag’s weight. If it’s possible to keep your items sans the packaging, do so.
4. Carry clothes that can be mixed and matched
Clothing that can be reused by mixing and matching is a great way to keep your backpack light. It would be best if you also remembered that jeans don’t require daily washing. So, depending on how long you are traveling, having just 1 or 2 pairs of jeans is enough. When choosing clothes, choose thinner socks (unless you’re traveling to a freezing place). Thin socks dry faster, and they don’t weigh too much. If you do need to carry heavy or bulky clothes, consider wearing them instead of packing them in your bag.
5. Pack just one pair of footwear
Wear your heavier pair of footwear – which typically happen to be travel boots/shoes – and pack only your flip-flops or sandals in your bag. Flip-flops and sandals are versatile and can go very well with all types of dresses, making them excellent all-around footwear.
6. Packing cubes can be lifesavers
Often, backpacks feel heavy because of how items are stored. The excess weight and strain that improperly packed items may leave on your shoulder or back can make carrying the backpack very uncomfortable. Packing cubes can be helpful here. They allow you to store your items in compact pouches, which can be placed in your bag. The packing cubes make the backpack lighter and better cushioned. They also evenly distribute the weight in your pack, making traveling comfortable.
7. Skip the toiletries kit and only carry your toothbrush
Don’t look so shocked. But there’s a very sane reason for our suggesting this tip. You’ll find complimentary toiletries kits in every hotel room you stay in. You’ll have everything from soap & shampoo to dental thread and disposable hair caps in your complimentary kit. Even if you’re camping and not staying in a hotel, you’ll find a department store or pharmacy in most places globally, where you can buy your toiletries on site. When purchasing your kits at the destination, consider opting for travel-size toiletries. If you’re with a travel buddy, it’s wise to share your toiletries with them.
On a related note, menstruating travelers should try a menstrual cup or a washable cloth pad. You will need to carry only a single cup or two cloth pads during your travel – which is significantly lighter than an entire box of disposable pads/tampons.
8. Take along your prescription medicines and buy anything else later
Medicines can be lifesaving when traveling. But, when you pack medicines, carry along your prescriptions and not OTC drugs. OTC medication can be found in most pharmacies around the world. So you can always stock up on them when you’re at your destination. But prescription drugs may not be available everywhere since some prescriptions may not be available in certain countries.
When packing medicines, find out if your prescription is legal in the destination. For example, medical cannabis is not legal in every country. Therefore, you may need to get approval from your doctor and visa authorities to carry the drugs to a location where it’s illegal. Or, you may have to ask for an alternative prescription that is legal.
9. Consider a kindle instead of physical books & choose smaller sized digital devices
A kindle can hold hundreds of books, allowing you to carry an entire library for the weight of a single book. Additionally, smaller earphones over larger ones can be stored in your pocket with ease. Finally, an iPad/Tablet is always better than a laptop, and a Bluetooth pen is better than a Bluetooth keyboard.
If you keep all of this in mind while creating your itinerary, you’ll know exactly where you’re going and how many items you’ll actually need for your trip. Looking for other tips and tricks to pack light? Join the conversation in our Travel Wise community.