I wanted to start this post by pointing out that I'm currently traveling on a big trip with a backpack and a carry on. Some of you, particularly backpackers, may think this is no big deal, but it's a pretty big deal for me. To provide more context:
- I love clothes. Let's just get that fact out of the way. If I didn't control myself, I would bring an overflowing suitcase with me every time I travel, packed with several "just in case" outfits.
- For this particular trip, I am spending three weeks traveling around Australia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
- I am also attending a wedding and two pre and post wedding events while in the Philippines.
- The temperatures during my trip range from 50s to 90s Fahrenheit.
These are the factors I'm working with: going from beachwear to wedding wear across multiple countries in two continents. And somehow I managed to get everything I need in a backpack and carry on with room to spare.
Packing light for a big trip is not new for me. Last year I traveled from hot and sunny South Africa to rainy London and chilly Sweden in one trip, all with a backpack and carry on (and some newly acquired clothes). I also did the same during my time in LA, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong in 2013. In fact, I now take pleasure in figuring out how to travel light across various regions and temperatures. It's a challenge I relish and one I think I've become pretty good at solving.
There are ways to pack light for your next big trip that won't have you dealing with overweight checked luggage or, even worse, lost checked luggage. Here are my best tips on how to pack light:
Track the weather
This is a pretty crucial and somewhat obvious first step when it comes to packing. How else will you know what to wear if you don't know how hot or cold or rainy it will be? Make sure to pay attention to the temperature highs and lows, and always prepare for rain. I feel like rain is somehow possible no matter where you go.
Think of all your staples
When fashion experts talk about clothing staples, they're referring to those classic items you can mix and match — blue jeans, black dresses, white button downs, and so on. These staples are extremely valuable when traveling for an extended period of time because you can wear them multiple times in multiple ways and it can often look like a completely different outfit.
Mix and match
Expanding on the previous tip, think about the various ways you can wear blue jeans (with a dressy top, casual top, sneakers, heels, etc). The same process can be applied to many of your other pieces of clothing. Barring outfits for special events like a wedding (and really cute lightweight dresses), my rule is that if an item of clothing cannot be worn in more than one way, it's not going in my bag.
Create a daily outfit itinerary
I realize this is now starting to sound like a fashion blog, but hear me out: mapping out a daily outfit itinerary has helped me cut back on packing A LOT. If I didn't take the time to understand what I'll likely wear each day, I would end up bringing multiple outfits per day, and the whole carry on luggage idea comes obsolete. But when I get specific and detailed, I'm able to streamline. On a side note, can you tell I was one of those super organized kids in school (and now adult in life)?
Edit as needed
One of the most effective ways for me to cut back on how much I pack is to lay everything out on my bed. It gives me a good visual sense of whether I'm being extremely unrealistic or if my packing goals are feasible (it's usually the former). Once I see everything laid out, I start editing down. I ask myself things like, "Do I really need this long and probably cumbersome floral print skirt?" Probably not.
After I've edited my clothing list down, it's time to start packing. And by packing, I mean rolling. This is a well-known packing trick, so I feel as though I'm stating the obvious by saying you should roll your clothes rather than folding them. There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, a sweater that's rolled up may actually take up more room than if you laid it on top of your rolled clothes. The idea is to understand how to maximize the limited space you have.
There are other ways to travel light that I've done in the past, like donating clothes while traveling, but the above steps are what I do every time I go on a big trip. It's saved me tons of time at the airport, and I don't have to worry about MIA luggage.
Do you have tips for traveling light?