How to Pack Light
Efficiently packing is an essential component in optimizing travel. Whether you are traveling for a few days or a few months, all you need should be able to fit in a carry-on size backpack. Trust me…it’s possible, and incredibly freeing! Having the right tools such as a packing app (or list), and the right gear can make this a stress free process.
We all know that we are supposed to travel light, but how do you do that and still have everything you may need? You can’t, but here are a few tips to help lighten the load.
- Almost anything you might need can be purchased at your destination, i.e. umbrella, sweatshirt, book, mask/snorkel. You can then leave behind for another traveler.
- You cannot bring 4 pairs of shoes or shoes to match different outfits! Have comfortable shoes that are good for walking around town and also suitable (not perfect) for a nice dinner. You then need light sandals / flip flops to mix in to allow your feet rest, go to the pool, etc. Ideally, you wear the first and just pack your sandals. If you must bring dress shoes, hiking boots, or tennis shoes, remember 3 is max (including what you wear on the plane).
- It’s okay to wear the same clothes…no one notices or cares. I used to bring three jackets on extended business trips, now just one. I also minimize pants (usually two) and focus on rotating shirts. Don’t forget to layer if temperature variance is a factor.
- Standardize on a primary color theme such as black or brown. This has the advantage or your shoes, a single belt, and sweater / sweatshirt to match all your outfits. You also will then able to mix and match as well as layer.
- Wash your clothes. For any trip over 4-5 days, you should be prepared to do some laundry. If you use AirBnB, pick one with a washer/dryer (if multiple stays, plan to have one at the 4 day mark). Socks and underwear (the critical items) are super easy to wash in your sink. Typically hotel laundry service is quite expensive, but offsite options are usually available.
Packing Pro App
The Packing Pro app is my go-to for removing the stress of forgetting something which is then often overcompensated for by bringing too much. Once you’ve built your first list (Packing Pro has default lists to help), you can simply copy that list and tweak. For example, create your Domestic Biz list, copy and create Domestic Personal, do the same for international and then move on to non-air travel. While the overlap is considerable, the point is to go to the right list and not have to think about what is applicable.
An analytical traveler will continually dial in their lists. I do a driving business trip, typically a one or two-nighter, monthly. I go down the list from top to bottom and am ready in 10 minutes with no concern that something was left out. My only decision is whether to go black or brown so I only need to bring one belt and one pair of dress shoes.
Utilizing packing cubes in combination with your travel backpack is a winning combo. It’s tough to live straight out of your bag, and inefficient to fully unpack your bag, particularly if doing multiple stays. With cubes you simply unzip, flip the lid to the bottom, and place in drawer. Each cube is designated for a particular item, such as shirts, shorts, or undergarments. There may be loose items such as your packable rain coat or a rolled up pair of pants that fill in the gaps in your bag. I use a medium compression bag for dirty clothes and also utilize shoe bags.
Related Guide: Gear Guide
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