5 tips for packing light

While perusing Pinterest I found a new great blog to read: Travel Fashion Girl. She carries on for all trips, often using only ten pieces of clothing or less. In a recent post, she showed how she was able to pack for five days and carry on, not in her suitcase, but in her Lo and Sons OG. Wow. I packing cube emptycan certainly pack for 5 days in a suitcase, no problem, but I am amazed and inspired by this. Creating a travel wardrobe using only ten items is definitely going on my to-do list! So in honor of Travel Fashion Girl, here are my top five tips for packing light.

  1. Plan ahead. Figure out exactly what situations will arise, such as travel, meetings, dinner, lounging, and working out. Then choose clothing items that can multitask. For example, you can lounge around your room in your PJs, or go to dinner in your work clothes. No need for a specific outfit for every occasion!
  2. Packing cubes. Packing cubes will take an enormous amount of clothing and compress it down into almost nothing. Travel Fashion Girl uses large Ziploc bags, also a good option. The smaller you make your stuff, the better it will Packing cube comparisonfit! (Pictured: My Eagle Creek packing cube at work. I put a pair of pants, three sweaters, three camis, yoga pants, and a tank in there.)
  3. EReader. On the first trip after I bought my Kindle, I picked up my purse and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Then I realized: my purse felt too light! Instead of bringing several books, I was able to bring one Kindle. It was amazing. This can also be helpful for work documents, which can be read on many eReaders in PDF form.
  4. Small containers for toiletries. It is so easy for toiletries to take up half of your suitcase. For my first business trip, I brought full size containers of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face care. No wonder I couldn’t lift my suitcase into the overhead bin!  Get a good set of 3 oz. reusable containers and transfer enough for your trip. Use spare contact lens cases for very small amounts, like face wash and moisturizer.
  5. 3 pairs of shoes. There are two areas that consistently defeat travelers’ light packing efforts: toiletries (which we just addressed) and shoes. My rule of thumb is three pairs of shoes, total, including the pair on your feet. This strategy requires you to be very mindful of your outfits, which is a good thing. If you need shoes for workouts, then you have to be even more careful! Wear your biggest shoes on the plane. If that is a pair of boots, make sure they are easy to take off and put on.

Readers, what are your strategies for packing light?

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  1. Mostly good advice here, but 2 comments.

    (1) THREE (!) pairs of shoes!!! I could never get 3 pairs of shoes and all else I need in a carry-on. I pack monochromatically and bring 1 pair of work shoes and 1 pair of non-work. I wear one and pack 1. That’s all that’s really needed.

    (2) Packing cubes: I was very surprised to realize that I could fit more in my carry-on without packing cubes than with them. It turned out that the size/shape of my Eagle Creek cubes doesn’t correspond well to the space in my suitcase, and so I could roll and fit more clothes in my bag when they were not in cubes. YMMV.

    And finally, an additional piece of advice: If you’re going to re-wear some of your work clothes, make them dark solids. Re-wearing a pair of basic black or gray slacks is less noticeable than re-wearing a pair of plaid ones. Re-wear a gray sweater and bring lightweight more brightly colored tanks/tees.

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