I often have people ask how I can pack so light for long trips. The answer I always give is simple.
“Pack for a week. Live forever”.
Now forever might be a bit of a stretch but the concept is there. I pack enough clothes to last a week and wash when I have to. If you are thinking I pack 7 different outfits (one for each day) you are wrong. I pack clothes that are going to be interchangeable. So yes, I do wear clothes multiple times as different outfits before I wash them. Unless I am going somewhere that I know I need a specific outfit, I stick to that rule. Typically for a month long journey, I can keep everything condensed to a carry-on sized suit case, including all my toiletries. The times there was exceptions to this rule was when I traveled to Cape Town for a wedding. Then I had to bring a large suit case because there were several occasions where I knew I needed to dress up in more than a t-shirt and shorts.
I typically start to pack well in advance as well, sometimes a month before. If I am traveling somewhere warm and it is winter where I live, I know I won’t need the majority of the clothes in my daily routine that I will pack. I will start with my shorts, summer dresses and flip flops. I find when I start to pack early, I have more time to think of what I really need instead of simply tossing things into a bag last minute – which leads to over packing.
Throughout the upcoming days and weeks, as I think of things I need, I will throw them in my suitcase. I also tend to have a toiletry kit with everything I need in travel size containers. With the cost of checking your bags nowadays, if you can get away with carry-on only, then do it.
The Rule of Half
If you find you are an over-packer, try this rule. Pack everything you think you will need, then take out half of it. Trust me, it will be OK. Don’t take out essential things like a pair of comfortable sneakers, but maybe rethink those high heels ladies. Depending on the trip, I typically pack 3 pairs of footwear. Comfortable sneakers for long days of walking around a city or going for a hike, a pair of flip flops (for warms spots) and if I think I might be going somewhere that I may have to dress up a little more, a pair of black flats. Keep in mind that I will wear the sneakers on the plane as they will take up the most space in the suitcase.
People tend to over use things like shampoo and toothpaste in their every days lives. So simply by being aware and reminding yourself to cut down on the amount you use while on vacation will cut down on the space and weight factor. I find most travel size containers will last you about 2 weeks. Typically the size of a quarter is all you need for shampoo and a small pea for toothpaste.
Of all the packing rules I have heard out there (things like rolling your clothes instead of folding), these are the 2 I stick to every time. Because lets be honest, if you have too much stuff then all the rolling in the world is not going to help you.
If you have any amazing packing tips, feel free to share in the comments section.