That’s right, I said what NOT to pack. The secret to packing light is all about getting rid of those items that can either be bought on-route or the things we can do without at a push. They are what are called non-essentials.
It’s a simple maths equation S = E – EN (SUITCASE equals ESSENTIALS minus ESSENTIALS to the power of NOT ). Simply put, if its NOT an absolute essential, it DOES NOT go in the bag!
Let’s get down to it – what do we take and what do we leave at home?
No Extra Needed
I know when I’m packing I always feel the need to pack a spare pair of socks, and a second, sometimes even a third pair of undies – even just for a weekend away! There’s an unwritten rule to have a spare pair of anything “just in case” isn’t there??
Realistically though you can get away with only 2 pair of underwear, 2 pair of socks and 2 pairs of shoes (each taking turn about every second day, depending on your needs and plans). Underwear and even socks can be washed out overnight and be dry by morning (some socks will take ages to dry, so carry a plastic baggy you can drop them into until you can hang them to dry some more!). Save space, ditch the spare pair. At the end of the day you can always buy more!
Make sure you check out the section below on Fluff & Fold.
Layer Me Up
This may seem counterintuitive to our overall topic, but I’m about to say: pack more to pack less. Huh?
When you are going to colder destinations try to pack lighter clothing that you can layer up, rather than one big bulky jumper or coat. Not only will you have more clothes to swap with, the warm air trapped between each layer of material should keep you nice and toasty. It is also easier when you get cooler or hotter by adding or removing layers to suit the conditions.
Let me also introduce you to the world of warm with one word “spencer”. OK you may have only seen your Nanna wearing thermal underwear, yet this cosy little lightweight wonder is like having your own personal hot waterbottle next to your skin. While its cold outside, start your layering with a spencer and you are good to go.
BTW Another word for you… “Longjohns”. Daggy as they are and previously only worn by your grandad, Longjohns will keep your legs warm!
Footloose & Fancy Free
You only have two feet, so one pair at a time! Shoes are bulky little blighters, and some are heavy too. They take up a bucket load of space so really think about your destination and what you are likely to do there that would impact your footwear. If you are walking then you need EITHER sneakers or good walking shoes. If you are on the beach then flip flops, thongs OR sandals will suffice. If you are mountain climbing you are going to need some fairly sturdy boots – wear these on the plane, they are going to be both bulky and heavy. Limit yourself to three pairs of shoes – no duplication. 1 pair of casual, dressy and walking shoes are my choice – flip flops or flats, dressy sandals or boots (that can double as casual if needed), sneakers/walking shoes.
Whatever is heaviest goes on your feet to fly, all the rest should be flexible enough to fit in your luggage around everything else.
This is a major way to save space and weight. The hassle of taking your toiletry bag out for security staff to paw through. Plus, any liquids, aerosols or gels in a carry-on bag need to be under 100mL, and this can be a whole other issue in itself.
Basically, toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, hair products, soap and the like are all things that can be purchased at your destination. OK, so the brand may not be the same, or the packaging may be in a foreign language, go on, let’s live a little bit dangerously and try something new! After all, the end result will be the same – clean teeth, clean hair, clean face…
OK, OK. I accept that if you are on a marathon flight to the other side of wherever, and you (hopefully) have an hour or two between flights to grab a shower in the airport lounge area, or at the very least a face wash, in this case, I say absolutely take a basic toothbrush & mini-tube of paste, just to keep you feeling human and minty fresh. Of course you could always buy that at your layover stop too… just sayin’
Makeup is a real bugbear with me – women (or men) with their full warpaint caked on when they are going to spend a week at the beach, or the must have pearlised eggshell branded eyeshadow in 14 different shades… puh-leeeease! No-one is looking at you that close. OK when we go out to dinner, or for a special excursion, or if you are on a business trip, then, only then maybe makeup is warranted. In that case, you can probably get away with a foundation, concealer, powder, basic eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara and you’re good to go. No need for the whole shebang, stay simple, go basic,be natural. To be honest a powder compact, lipstick and some mascara will get you by for most occasions.
Fluff & Fold
Definitely a nice to have, however laundry detergent is unnecessary to take with. Anything under two weeks, and you can wash/dry in the bathroom using good old-fashioned soap (a single use sachet of detergent or even shampoo in a pinch). Rubbing through your scanties while showering is a tried and true method passed down from mother to daughter, father to son, backpacker to backpacker. It is an essential know-how for all travellers people!
Should you be heading off for a longer trip, or you have a desperate need to wash, fluff and fold, then a laundromat should be on your pre-plan list. Locate a laundromat or your hotel laundry in your destination BEFORE you leave home. That way you can designate your wash days, how long it will take you, what detergent is available and if you need change for the machines. The added bonus of an hour spent in a laundromat is that you can pack fewer clothes, which means less weight! See how this works – easy!
Do you need that diamond encrusted tiara on this trip? Probably not. Lovely though they may be, the weight alone is enough to put you off. Wearing anything expensive will only make you a target and cost you more in the end. When travelling keep it simple and un-theft worthy.
Earbuds may not be the “be all and end all” in sound quality or coolness, but they do have one great feature over the comfortable state-of-the-art, noise cancelling, super-cool overhead headphones. They are teeny tiny. Can you survive? Your choice.
Expensive electronics – computers, phones, ipads & tablets, cameras, video cameras and the like, are all easy theft targets. It’s a good idea to keep your electronics in your sight at all times where practicable – which means you have to carry them… everywhere! The less you bring the less you have to carry, and the less you lose if it’s stolen or lost.
Obviously if you are a photographer you are going to want to take your bulky DSLR camera. Or if you are travelling on business and you need your work tools. And, of course for many of us, leaving your phone or tablet at home is like losing your right arm!
Essentially, if you don’t need it, leave it at home. If you have to bring your latest whizz bang electronics with you, try to minimize if you can. These days, a smartphone will take decent shots, keep you hooked into the net and in touch with all your peeps back home. Rule of thumb? Minimise to maximise.
Something extra to note: Make sure your camera bag or computer satchel doesn’t count as your carry-on luggage! Because that will mean everything else goes undercarriage.
I didn’t say it was going to be easy. After all you never know just what you might need and what not. Focus on the absolute essentials and you could very well save a few extra kilos on your luggage weight. Happy packing!
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