In today’s post, I’m sharing 6 tips to pack light to help simplify travel.
Travelling is a great way to fill your life with experiences rather than filling it with “stuff”. Research even shows that experiences lead to longer-lasting happiness than material possessions.
But as wonderful as travelling can be, it can also be stressful at times. While some things, like flight delays, are out of your control, there are things you can do to simplify travel and make it easier and less stressful.
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Simplify travel with these tips to pack light
My favourite way to simplify travelling is packing less so you can pack lighter. Just like having less stuff in your home makes life easier, bringing less stuff with you when you travel makes travelling a lot easier too.
Packing light means you have less to pack, less to haul around with you, less to pack up when you leave, less to unpack when you get home, and simply less stuff to worry about and take care of while you’re away!
If you want to simplify travel, check out these 6 tips to pack light to help make travelling a less stressful, more enjoyable experience!
Six tips to pack light to simplify travel
1. Plan ahead
Start packing early
When you’re packing for a trip, it’s usually a good idea to start planning what you’ll pack and actually start packing as early as you can. When you leave packing until the last minute, that’s usually when you start frantically throwing things into your suitcase in a panic. Either bringing way too much or forgetting important things.
When you start packing early, you have time to plan what you’ll need and re-think how many “extras” you’re bringing.
Have a list of your basics you always bring
One of the big reasons for overpacking is worrying that you’ll forget something important or something you’ll need. Having a list of all of your essentials is a great way to take the stress out of packing because you don’t need to worry about forgetting anything important.
I use an app on my phone for my packing list to help me remember all the essentials we need. I have a list for me and for each of my kids.
It’s also a great way to remember anything you can’t pack ahead of time but is important, like medications, chargers, etc.
Pack for the weather
As you’re planning and starting to pack, don’t forget to check the weather of your destination. You can check what’s normal for the season and the current forecast while you’ll be there. This helps you take only weather-appropriate clothes that you will wear, instead of a bunch of extras.
If the weather could vary significantly during your stay, pack versatile pieces or layers that will work for a variety of weather conditions.
Pack for your planned activities
An important way to pack light is to only pack the things you’ll need for the types of activities you’ll be doing. Be honest and realistic with yourself about what you’ll be doing while travelling.
For example, if you know you probably won’t be working out while on vacation, you don’t need to pack a bunch of work out clothes.
One of my favourite tips to pack light is to bring versatile items of clothing that will work for more than one type of activity. For example, a basic dress could be worn for sight-seeing during the day and then dressed up to go out to dinner in the evening.
2. Create a mini-capsule wardrobe for your trip
You probably already know what a big fan of capsule wardrobes I am. A capsule wardrobe makes life so much easier – fewer decisions, less time getting dressed, saves money, makes it easy to keep your closet organized and more.
If you’re new to the idea of a capsule wardrobe, a capsule wardrobe is a small selection of clothes that you absolutely love and are easy to mix and match with each other to create a variety of different outfits.
But taking the idea of a capsule wardrobe and using it when you’re packing is a great way to pack light and simplify what you bring!
How to make a travel capsule wardrobe
When putting together a mini-capsule wardrobe for travelling, bring items that are easy to mix and match with each other so you can create a good selection of outfits with fewer items of clothing. Aim to bring versatile pieces that can work for multiple days, outfits, events, etc.
Bring items that can be easily re-worn as well. For example, you may be able to wear a pair of pants or shorts two or three times with different tops.
I also find it helpful to lay out the complete outfit I plan to wear each day just to make sure each outfit works and I have the appropriate items.
Pack fewer, but versatile accessories
Just like you want to bring versatile items of clothing, the same goes for accessories. If you want to pack light, don’t bring a huge selection of shoes, purses and other accessories.
Instead, pack accessories that will work for a variety of outfits and activities so you can bring less.
Only bring your favourite items
One of the easiest tips to pack light is to only bring your favourite clothes while travelling. Don’t bring things you never wear but think you might wear while you’re away.
Instead, bring the tried and true items you love wearing and look and feel your best in. This way you know you’ll look and feel good, and won’t end up packing items you won’t enjoy wearing or will be uncomfortable in.
If your goal is to pack light, this isn’t the time to experiment with new outfits you never wear. Stick with your favourites instead!
Don’t bring extras!
One of the most basic tips to pack light is to only bring what you actually need, and nothing more.
It’s easy to start thinking what if this happens or what if that happens. But if your goal is to simplify travelling by packing light, leave the extra things at home and only bring what you’ll realistically wear and need.
I find it helpful to think through the “what if” scenarios you’re worried about. For example, if you’re worried about the pants you’re planning to wear twice getting dirty, what is the worst that could happen? Maybe you’d spot clean them in your hotel room? Maybe you’ll have access to laundry facilities and could just wash them?
More often than not, there is an easy solution to the “what if” scenarios that don’t require packing a bunch of extra stuff.
If you’re going on a longer trip, instead of packing enough clothes for each day, see if it would be possible to do laundry so you can pack fewer clothes. And try to pack things you can re-wear to make the clothes you bring stretch farther.
3. Reduce toiletries
Toiletries and personal care products are bulky and heavy. If you want to pack light, a great place to focus on is reducing the number and amount of toiletries you’re bringing.
Only bring the amount you need
Bringing travel size toiletries and personal care products is a great way to pack lighter when travelling. Either buy travel size items or decant your own products into small travel sized bottles and containers.
Another great tip to pack light and reduce the number of products you’re bringing is to consider doing without some products all together while you’re away. See if there are any products that you usually use but could do without them for the time you’re travelling.
Another easy way to pack lighter is by not packing items you know will be provided at your destination.
For example, most hotels provide hair dryers, shampoo, soap, etc. If you know these items will be available where you’re staying, don’t pack your own and lighten your load!
4. Pack efficiently
While the following suggestions aren’t tips to pack less, using these tips to pack efficiently means you can pack what you’re bringing in a smaller bag that’s easier to handle and maneuver.
File fold or roll clothes
File folding (folding clothes and placing them vertically rather than in a pile) or rolling clothes is a great way to fit more in a smaller suitcase.
I personally love file folding my clothes in my suitcase because I can easily see where everything is and never have to go digging through my suitcase to find something. This is a great tutorial on how to file fold your clothes.
Packing cubes are another great way to pack efficiently and keep your suitcase organized. I also like to bring a mesh laundry bag to put dirty clothes in. It helps keep your suitcase organized and keeps your clean and dirty clothes separate.
I also like to put any shoes I’m packing in bags inside my suitcase to keep my clothes clean.
Choose lightweight luggage
One of the easiest tips to pack light is to start with lightweight luggage. After switching from a much heavier suitcase to a lightweight carry-on I was amazed at how much easier it made maneuvering and carrying my suitcase.
Wear your heaviest items
A great way to pack light, especially if you’re flying, is to wear your heaviest or bulkiest items instead of packing them to use less luggage space.
5. Be realistic
One of the more difficult tips to pack light is being really honest and realistic with yourself and only bringing what you truly need and will use. This tip is more difficult because it often requires a mindset shift that isn’t always easy!
For example, as I mentioned above, it’s easy to overpack when you start thinking about every possible “what if” scenario that could happen. But if your goal is to pack less to make travelling easier and more enjoyable, try to think through these “what ifs” to put your mind at ease.
As I said above, instead of packing extra clothes “just in case” yours get dirty, remind yourself you can wash or spot clean items if you need to.
And instead of packing extra clothes just in case you don’t feel like wearing something, bring your favourite clothes so you know you’ll be happy with what you have and won’t need extra options.
You can probably buy anything you forget
If you realize you forgot something while you’re away and absolutely need it, most of the time you can easily buy it wherever you are.
Instead of packing everything you could possibly need for every “what if” scenario you can think of, remind yourself that unless you’ll be hiking through the wilderness hundreds of miles from civilization, you can probably run to the pharmacy or store and buy what you need.
It can be frustrating to re-buy something you already have at home. But if your goal is to pack light, you need to be realistic about only packing the essentials and be open occasionally needing to buy something you don’t have.
As I mentioned, being realistic with yourself is one of the harder tips to pack light. It often requires reminding yourself of the difference between what you will actually use and need, and what would be nice to have.
For example, it might be nice to have a variety of different shoe options to wear. But do you really need them all?
If your goal is to pack lighter, being realistic about the amount of stuff you actually need to bring is important.
Of course, this is personal to each of us and we’ll all have different ideas about what is enough. But the key is focusing on your goal to pack less and using that goal to guide your decisions about what is enough for you.
6. Pay attention and get better as you go
There’s a learning curve to figuring out how to pack light. Using these tips to pack light can take some trial and error to figure out the right balance and what is enough for you.
Each time you pack and travel, pay attention to what you use, what you don’t end up using, what you were glad to have, what you could have done without, etc.
Each time you travel, you’ll get better and better at only packing the things you need and use so you can pack light and simplify travel.
Tips to pack light & simplify travel
I hope these 6 tips to pack light help you simplify travelling so you can bring less stuff and have more fun!
What are your favourite tricks and tips to pack light? I’d love to hear, share them in the comments below!
Friday 14th of June 2019
These were such great tips! I hadn't thought about how minimalism could apply to packing too! I definitely like how you mentioned the "what-if" scenarios because that is the thing that would have me packing more! But thinking through those scenarios helps put things in perspective ;)
Simple Lionheart Life
Friday 14th of June 2019
Thanks, Elizabeth! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and found it helpful! I used to pack way too much thinking about all the "what ifs" too. It helps me so much to think through all those what-ifs so I don't end up bringing so much. Thanks for reading!
Monday 10th of June 2019
One thing I did to lighten my toiletry bag is switch to multi-purpose products like a 3-in-1 soap bar for hair, face, and body and a 3-in-1 conditioner bar that moisturizes and can be used for shaving. Also purchased a lotion bar and an alum stone for deodorant. Best switches I’ve ever made, and it’s all low waste products so it’s a win!
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 10th of June 2019
Those are all great ideas! Multi-purpose products are a great way to bring less! I love that they are all low waste too. That's fantastic! Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your tips!