Why do I always talk about light packing? Whether on this blog or my Instagram feeds, I always write how it’s important to pack light to travel a little more worry-free. People are often surprised to meet us with our small carry-ons, they are always astonished when they learn that this contains what we need to live on the road for several weeks or even months (the latest: 8 weeks this summer). So when we are away for the night, a tiny bag is bag is enough to take all our essentials.
Traveling light, for me, is a necessity. I must admit I’m a little lazy; I hate carrying heavy bags or huge suitcases. I never have the patience to struggle with zippers or whatever you close your suitcases/bags with. I hate spending hours searching for something, and I absolutely can’t imagine spending several days preparing luggage.
What I do love in light packing
I love being ready for a one or two week trip in less than 20min. I love not having to check-in luggage and specially I really am happy to freely go as soon as the plane has landed while other passengers are starting to stress-out waiting to see if they will have their “stuff” during their vacation or if they went missing in Antananarivo’s airport, even if they don’t know where this town is…
I love being able to spend my last few hours in a remote town wandering and taking few more shots before leaving. How can people manage to do all that is they have a massive suitcase following them everywhere they go? Okay, I know the suitcase is not following them. They have to pull it, but that’s even worse!
For all that and many more reasons, I love light packing. Packing light is not something you do right the first time you try. It’s a kind of state of mind you acquire with time and experiences. I’ve made light packing in my family a “technic” that everyone uses. There’s is no way one member of the family is not following this rule, because it would reflect on the others. So my little obsession is known in the family and well accepted. Everyone sees only advantages in the end, in going out of his/her comfort zone and taking less on the road.
What about a light packing list?
A list is so personal. When I was a teenager, every time I read beautiful lists that have been prepared “especially for my kind of trip” by others, I was just thinking that half of it wasn’t useful to me and that important things were definitely missing. That’s exactly why I don’t want to write a list now. At least, I don’t want want to write a definitive perfect list of items you’ll bring. I will give you a list of things that you have to work on in order to prepare your bag for a fall get away, in order to perfect the Art of Slow Traveling.
1- Think Jeans!
Jeans are, at this time of the year, the perfect bottom I can wear. There are reliable, can match a simple tee-shirt or a cute fancy top for a better look. They don’t need ironing. I am one of these who never iron jeans, I wear them! This is the idea. Choose something you love and could wear all day every day, on any occasion you need.
This is not summer anymore, their are chances you won’t absolutely need shorts. And if you don’t leave for long you may consider taking only one bottom, if you believe there’s no risk for you to be wet or dirty. If you absolutely need more than one, consider taking a second one with a thinner material so it won’t take much time to dry if necessary. It also won’t take much space in your bag, so if you don’t use it in the end, no regret!
2- Think one convenient pair of shoes
I would go for Converse like shoes. These city-sports that give a fancy weekend look. You can walk all day long with them and can fit in the cities more than when wearing training shoes. Think well because shoes are the ones taking a lot of space and are heavy in you luggage. You maybe can do without your running shoes for few days and go swimming or doing yoga instead. Anyway, you will probably walk a lot all day long already!
3- Various tops but not too much
Taking too much of everything is the on-going risk when packing. You have to realise that a shirt unexpectedly stained is very easily washed with a little soap and will be dried in the morning for a fresh start. So no need for “just in case”.
4- You can do without many of your bathroom usual bottles
You can buy travel size of course. But you can also check that the place you’ll be staying at will have everything you need for a good shower and shampoo. Many Airbnb are now offering them too. So take only your personal essentials and take it as a new experience for the rest of them. Regarding emergency kit, you may consider that you can find everything you MAY need. Their are pharmacies in most of the no so remotes corners of this world. If not, think of a few basics such as pain and head-ache, stomach flu and cold. You may also take few bandages. Soap is a very good way to clean a wound. Anyway if things are really bad, you may consider a doctor, so no need to bring a whole pharmacy with you.
This can be the heaviest part very easily. Just remember that you can multi-task your electronics. Your laptop is heavy and huge but if you have to take it, you can use the USB plugs to charge everything else. If you don’t take it, be sure to have the proper number of cables and plugs for all your devices, but try to find multiple plugs to carry less.
I regularly forget that I mustn’t take books when I travel! And you shouldn’t neither… Download an ebook on whatever device you take with you. Chances are, you will be too tired at night to read a lot, so taking a huge heavy book is surely a mistake.
These are all possible autumn weathers. You must be prepared for all of them. Nevertheless, think light! A multi-purpose jacket is better than the latest model from the fashion week. Take whatever your want and feel good in, but remember you could carry it all day as it ends up being very hot, or you could have a heavy unexpected shower… So choose well, you wouldn’t want to ruin a beautiful jacket because of this amazing get-away you are planning! You wouldn’t want to have your escape ruined buy a cold because your beautiful new vest is not warm enough or not windproof. Light packing is all about not taking too much, but it’s certainly not about not taking what you really need.
8- Organise your luggage space
Packing light is great but folding and organising your clothes in an optimised way is better. You can’t imagine how much space you spare by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Plus you won’t have creased shirts when you unpack. You also can use ziplock bags for your underwear and socks. You can save space and even privacy in case of custom control. Put everything in a large ziplock, then almost close it, press it to take air off and close it completely.
If you have spare shoes, place them in a bag sole against the sole. They take much less space. If you happen to have objects that can fit and go in your shoes, then do it.
If you take the plane don’t forget to place at the top of your luggage everything that has to be controlled so your save some time (ziplock with liquids, laptops, possibly cameras,…)
An organised luggage is like an organised home, worry-less!
9- Get organised
Sometimes it’s better to pay for a locker or a taxi, than having to carry your suitcase all day long… even a small one! If it’s a short or long weekend escape, just realise that you’ll be spending most of your time without a bedroom to let your luggage in (first and last day). So check where the most convenient lockers are (bus station for example) because with small luggage you’ll have no difficulties fitting everything in. Light packing allows you so much more than simply carrying a light bag!
Take a taxi from and to the airport. No need to spoil a good part of you time in buses or public transports with luggage in a city you don’t know. Keep that for later when you’ll be freed from them. Remember that for a short escape, your time is precious. You don’t want to loose it for sparing few dollars when you spent hundreds of them in a plane/train ticket or a hotel room.
10-Be comfortable, be happy!
My last advice here! Whatever you need to feel good, take it because this is important. If you need warm Pj’s or woollen socks, your favourite hat or a scarf to feel at ease, then take whatever you need to feel comfortable when your are far from home. When travelling these little things are the ones that will bring you the comfort and rest you will need to thoroughly enjoy your stay!
No absolutely don’t worry for your stuff! That’s the only rule you should remember. Never take something if it’s a burden, because travelling shouldn’t be like that. You can’t live your comfy home with a burden. You must feel free to go…
For more about light packing: