Yvonne AK Johnson: How to Pack Light and Travel Smart

How to Pack Light and Travel Smart

We all have this problem. It can be frightening to travel to an entirely new destination — you are placing yourself at the mercy of a foreign country without your usual safety nets, and it is a natural impulse to try to bring everything you can think of to be prepared for every scenario. What if you really need that extra bathing suit? Or a large umbrella? Or the shampoo you’re used to? We have all faced this pitfall, but the savvy traveler learns to fight it and bring only what she or he needs. With the rising cost of baggage on flights, no one can afford to bring extra suitcases., If you’re planning to stay on the road visiting multiple cities, or even try backpacking, you can’t afford any extra weight or space. Besides, you need to leave a little extra room so you can bring souvenirs home with you!

Here are a few easy tips to follow for those of us who struggle to pack light and keep moving!


  1. Pack Right

Versatile, low maintenance clothing is key. Bring only clothes that match a large amount of the other things in your suitcase. There’s no point in carting that one great shirt all around the country to wear it only once or twice. If it wrinkles easily, leave it at home. If it takes ages to dry, put it back in your closet. Aim for light fabrics and clothes that can layer for a cool evening rather than bulky coats and sweaters.

  1. Roll, Roll, Roll

It won’t make your bag lighter, but it sure will save a lot of space. It might seem counterintuitive, but the most efficient way to pack your clothes is by rolling them up, squeezing tight to push out the air, and line up the cylinder shaped clothes in your case. This also also has the added benefit of letting you look down at all the colors of your clothes at once. If anything sticks out as being a different color scheme that won’t go with most things, ditch it. In a similar vein, pack your socks and underwear last. Ball them up and use them to stuff your shoes or other containers, or push them down into the corners to take up any empty space. On your trip home, you can use them to surround and protect any fragile souvenirs.

  1. Wearing it Doesn’t Count

Wear your heaviest coat and bulkiest shoes onto the plane. You’ll keep warm up in the air and save a huge amount of space in your bag. If you’re really pressed for space you can stuff your coat pockets with underwear, socks, and toiletries.

  1. Make Airline Policy Work for You

Take every bit advantage of that “one personal item” policy! Bring a large tote bag and use it either as an extension of your suitcase, or treat it as leeway space for all the extra things you’ll pick up for the trip home. You can even put your usual purse inside a larger bag to gain a little extra space.

  1. Ditch the Toiletries

Don’t pack anything that you can buy at your destination! No matter where you’re going, you’ll always be able to pick up soap and sunscreen with ease.

  1. Virtual Packing

Finally, you can cheat by “packing” certain items on your smartphone. Ditch the moleskin in favor of a notebook app, and get digital versions of maps, travel guides, leisure books and magazines, etc.


For more tips, check out the lists here and here

Happy traveling!