Have you ever traveled with someone lugging a giant suitcase, an overstuffed shoulder bag, laptop, backpack, and 3 duty free bags full of booze and chocolate? I sure hope not! I see people like this all the time at the airport, ready to topple over from the weight of their luggage, and I shake my head every time.
I can’t even remember the last time I actually had to check a suitcase. It was probably the year I bought a one-way ticket and moved cross-country to San Francisco. Although there’s plenty of fancy suitcases out there nowadays that are built tough, are super lightweight, and easy to roll, I have no plans to buy one. Why bother?!
Lighten Your Load
I’m all about packing smart and that means traveling light. After all, the less we travel with, the less we have to lose, and the less we have to lug around. Even though I don’t bring much with me when I travel, I have everything I need, and always make a pack list in advance so I don’t get to the airport and smack myself in the head when I realize I forgot to bring something.
Whether I’m traveling for a weekend, 7 days, or 3 weeks, I bring the same carry on bag and keep things simple. My bag is about the size of a small gym tote and has a shoulder strap, wheels, and a collapsible handle. I’ve never had a problem fitting it in the overhead compartment, and not to jinx myself, I’ve never lost it yet. Once it wears out, I’m going to go even smaller and switch to using a multi compartment backpack.
When I travel I bring lightweight clothing that’s easy to hand wash and fast to air dry, and wear my bulkiest clothes on the days I fly. The heaviest item I travel with is my DSLR camera because I love photography and I never go on a travel adventure without it.
Skip The Souvenirs
I always leave extra space in my bag so it’s easy to open and close, plus if my bag is selected to be searched at security, there’s no stress or struggle getting everything back inside. For the most part I have no interest in bringing back souvenirs. They’re usually machine made items that are overpriced, bulky, and just end up in the junk drawer or donation pile, and I’m so over that. The only type of souvenirs I buy on occasion are unique magnets from each major city I visit because they’re cheap, tiny, and I smile every time I see them on the fridge because they remind me of my travels.
Pack Smart Checklist
Now here’s a sample of one of my pack lists to help you get ready for your next trip!
- Vibram FiveFingers (or good walking shoes)
- 1 pair of sandals
- 1 fleece jacket
- 1 long sleeve shirt
- 1 sweater (or sweatshirt)
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of capris
- 1 semi formal outfit
- 1 swimsuit
- 1-2 PJs
- Underwear and socks
- 1 hat/visor
- Cell phone + charger
- Camera + battery + charger + extra memory card
- Universal adaptor
Toiletries & Accessories
- Contacts + case + eyeglasses + solution
- Toothbrush + toothpaste + floss
- Face wash
- Tweezers + fingernail clipper
- Aspirin + allergy medicine + antacid
- Antibac + tissues
- Laundry soap
- 1 day bag
- Itinerary + Emergency contact numbers
- Wallet + Keys
- 1-2 travel guidebooks
- 1 novel for fun (or ebook)
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Untemplaters, what are your travel packing habits like? What’s the worst thing you forgot to pack? How many bags do you travel with?
No matter how small your package gets, during the winter time, it’ll grow fast especially if you are traveling to a colder place. Considering 2nd bag is expensive these days, I don’t know how you can account for this…
Financial Samurai says
The answer is simple. NEVER go somewhere that gets below 60 degrees! It’s always Hawaii during the winter for me.
Traveling during winter is tough because coats and sweaters get bulky quickly. I always make sure to wear my jacket, boots, scarf, hat, and gloves onto the plane to save space in my bag. Sticking with simple, solid color sweaters instead of heavily patterned ones is also an easy way to pack less because they can be worn with different pants or skirts easily without screaming “I already wore this sweater on this trip.”
Buck Inspire says
Great list, thanks! I needed this a week ago. I just came back from Puerto Vallarta. Even though it was a short trip, we still take longer than we should packing.
Oh Puerto Vallarta, nice! Hope you had a great trip. Smaller is definitely the way to go and is much faster to pack and unpack. The bigger the bag, the longer it takes and the more likely it is to leave something behind at the hotel accidentally.
Financial Samurai says
I LOOOOVE packing light! two items of each i.e. socks, shirts, shoes, undies etc and that’s it!
I never check anything in, and I make sure I bring something that I know I can easily walk 2-3 miles with.
Backpacks are great, and washing clothes in the sink every other day is so easy!
Awesome, you’re a lighter packer than me! The more often I pack light the more I want to get rid of stuff sitting in my closet when I get home b/c traveling with just a few clothes is a great reminder that we really don’t need that much. Sure it means doing laundry more often, but sink washing as you said is super easy especially when there are only a couple of things to wash!
101 Centavos says
When traveling for myself, I’m much more spare in my packing. Business trips however, require a certain amount of “extras”. I’ve learned to pack spare shirt and slacks in case a stain accident happens at mealtime. Still, it’s a good strategy to standardize on one color scheme only, such as browns or blue/blacks. I smile at newbie traveling colleagues that two pair of formal shoes, as well as running shoes and workout clothes in case they need to hit the hotel gym — which rarely happens.
That’s a good tip on having a spare set incase of spilling something. I always get tomato sauce on me when I wear white lol. I stick with one color scheme too, usually black, to avoid the extra shoes! Black also hides spills better than khakis and browns. 🙂
Paul @ The Frugal Toad says
I just got back from a trip to Pittsburgh and realized when I got there I forgot to pack a jacket. I did have a sweatshirt but it was in the 40’s for lows so I had to borrow a jacket from my brother-in-law. I am always deciding what items not to pack in order to avoid checking a bag.
Wow in the 40s already? Brrrr! That’s nice you were able to borrow a jacket so you didn’t have to go out and buy one. My goal when I’m packing is to only include things I will use atleast twice. I like to leave as many “maybe’s” at home and stick with the clothes that I know I’ll definitely wear.
Eric | Eden Journal says
We made the decision to start packing lighter last year. We used to travel with huge duffel bags and/or suit cases filled with everything we might need. Even getting from the car to the hotel room was difficult with all the stuff we brought. Last year, we decided to try a trip with just one backpack for each person on the family. It’s almost hard to describe how much easier it was. We felt so free, and it was so easy to move around. Since that first “pack light” trip, we’ve taken several more and now we always stick to one backpack each.
That’s awesome! Backpacks really are easier than carrying a bag or pulling a roller suitcase. I’ve seen many people with those giant camping backpacks but that style is too bulky for me so I think I’ll get a medium size one with multiple slots when the zipper gives out on my current bag. My roller bag is a great size but it’s not the most stable so it teeters side to side sometimes when I’m walking on uneven ground.
Marie at FamilyMoneyValues says
What I hate are the folks who have huge carryon bags that they cram into the overheads because they are ”too busy” to wait in line to get their checked bags. While they are cramming their junk up there, they are squashing my camera, laptop and etc!!!
That is so true! It drives me nuts when passegers bring on the roller bags that are bigger than the size limit. I try to board as soon as my section is called to make sure I get a good spot for my main bag and I always try to keep my camera in my purse under my seat. It’s always a competition for overhead space these days especially wih flight running at full capacity.
Now with enhanced baggage fees, makes more sense to travel smartly!
Yep. I don’t ever plan to pay to check a bag on a flight. Airline baggage fees keep going up and let’s hope they never start charging for carry ons. That would be a burn.
It seems that every time I travel my luggage seems to get smaller. Over the course of a few 2-4 days trips I’ve been able to whittle down my packing list to just the necessities and now most of my trips take involve a duffel bag (which will be replaced once I get a backpack that isn’t falling apart).
The worst thing I’ve forgotten? My toothbrush, and fixing that just involved buying a new one.
It’s so freeing to travel light. You sound like quite the expert packer! Duffel bags are really convenient and they are super light. I always check the weight of a bag before I buy one because some bags are so heavy even with nothing in them.