There’s an old adage that when you travel you should pack half as much as you need but take double the money. After traveling around the world twice, I couldn’t agree more with that statement. It’s important to pack light on your trip. Packing light helps you avoid fees on airlines, saves space, makes it easier to get around.

Novice travelers plan for everything. They can’t predict what will happen, so they pack to cover every eventuality; they leave for a two-week holiday with a huge suitcase filled with half their wardrobe. But how much of the stuff in that suitcase actually gets used? Half? Less than half? You’ve seen those people in the airports, weighed down by their belongings — maybe you’ve even been one. If you’ve been in that situation, you’ve probably regretted taking so much with you in the first place. However, the secret to travel is packing light.

When I travel, all my belongings fit into two bags: a tiny daypack and a larger backpack or duffel bag. I have traveled for over a year without ever needing anything more. In fact, I often find I still take too much! When friends come to visit me, I am amazed at how much they packed and they are amazed at how little I packed. They always ask me my secret to packing light.

Keep the toiletries light!
Keep the toiletries light!

My secret to packing light

  • First, create of list of everything you think you might need. Write it all down, everything and anything. Clothes, toiletries, electronics, and everything in between. This packing list usually ends up pretty long. But that’s okay, we’ll get it down quickly.
  • Next, look at your list and think about it in relation to your destination. If you are going to the islands, do you really need pants or jeans? If you are going to Paris in the summer, do you really need to pack long-sleeve shirts? You should be able to trim your packing list a bit by eliminating those items that don’t really have anything to do with your destination.
  • Why are you taking so much?

    Now, let’s take a look at your medication list. Why are you taking so much? In this age of worry, people tend to pack every medicine known to man just in case. Let’s be realistic- do you ever use them? Can’t you buy them there? Go minimal. If you do get sick, you can always buy painkillers or diarrhoea medicine there. Take the bare essentials; pack one blister pack of pills rather than the whole box.

  • What about the toiletries you’re taking? Soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razor, and shaving cream is all you need. If you are staying at a hotel, you don’t even need soap or shampoo since it is provided for you. You’re going on holiday, not to a corporate function so ditch the cosmetics and facial products.
  • Remember, you can buy things at your destination if you need them — so cross things like suntan lotion and bug spray off your list.
  • Now you’re well on the road to packing light; you’ve probably cut out half of the items on your list. The final step is to cut out another half. You are on holiday, relaxing. Stuff doesn’t get as dirty as you think; you can wear the same shorts a few days in a row. Take half as many clothes. Wear some longer, don’t wear any! You never wear everything you take and unless you spill something or sweat through your shirt, you can wear it for more than one day.

That’s it. That is the secret to packing light. Cut, cut, and cut until you get down to the most essential items. If you follow this advice, I guarantee you will pack light on your next trip, and the whole packing process will be much simpler.