Ladies and gentlemen. It’s about to be 2019 and there is literally zero excuse to be lugging insane amounts of baggage. Traveling light is the way to go because:
- You don’t need three outfit changes and a full shoe selection abroad
- TSA and fellow passengers appreciate one less bag in the mix
- There’s no feeling like walking into the airport like you own the place because you checked in online and you’re only taking a carry-on so you can move straight through to security!
Trust me, I understand wanting to be stylish and having cute outfits for those pictures that will last you a lifetime, but seriously, if that’s what you’re investing the most time/thought into for your trip (and you’re not a stylist or influencer getting paid for your trip pictures), then, like Ron Weasley wisely said – you need to sort out your priorities.
I come from a family of hoarders that packs like we’re starting a new life over, every single trip. I don’t remember a single travel experience with my parents that didn’t require at least one gigantic suitcase per person, an airport cart to carry them, and sometimes even calling over the airport personnel to help with the load. UNNECESSARY! So please know that I understand the struggle, but I’m here on the other side of the fence, after a victorious nine-day trip to Europe with different daily outfits on a carry-on, to tell you: YOU CAN DO IT! And here are five tips to help you accomplish it:
- Plan to wear your bulkier items on you during the flight: if you’re traveling to or from winter, keep your coat on you. If you need boots during the trip, wear them to fly. If you have a bulky sweater or dress, put it in your purse or “personal item” if you can. Free up your carry-on space for what matters.
- Pick clothes that are timeless, easy to match, and that complement other pieces you’re bringing: whether you’re picking from your closet or shopping before the trip, make sure the clothes you’re choosing are easy to mix and match with other articles of clothing to make new outfits during the trip. For example, a pair of jeans goes with any type of top, and you only need one pair of jeans. If you stay away from specific patterns or prints, it will be easier to look like you didn’t repeat outfits during the trip.
- Plan your outfits ahead of time: this one was a huge help for me in the last trip. I didn’t plan what I’d wear each day, but I mapped out the possible outfit combinations so that I would be sure not to underpack…. (as if!). For example: for nine days in Europe during a cold and rainy fall, I packed: 4 pairs of bottoms (1 jean, 2 jeggings, 1 leggings), 7 knit sweaters, 4 tank tops (for layering), 3 dresses, 2 booties, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 PJs, 12 underwear, 2 bras, 10 pairs of socks, 4 scarves, 2 gloves, 2 hats + hygiene stuff and everything else I carried on me, like the coats. Yes, ALL of that fit in a carry-on bag and personal item! And because I mapped out what I could match with what, I had peace of mind and took less time making outfits each morning. The colors of the clothes were all easy to match and interchangeable and it felt kind of like a clothing line collection that felt cohesive – and chic! Here’s the proof of the outfit variety for the non-believers (and this isn’t even all of them!):
4. Go small (or even solid) with the toiletries: listen, I don’t like wasting time on styling my mane of hair when I travel, so you *know* I needed my dry shampoo, but I took two small canisters instead of one big one that 1. complied with TSA regulations and 2. allowed me to distribute the space better. Now, every airport security has different regulations when it comes to what can go on a carry-on, and even though most are on board with items that contain less than 3 fluid ounces, sometimes you need separate Ziploc bags, or they make you take it out of the plastic bag completely (which when you pack your bag like a game of Tetris can be a real bummer). So when you want to avoid those worries altogether, consider packing solid toiletries! I was shook when I read about these, but seriously – shampoo, lotion, bug repellent, almost anything you can think of has a solid presentation to make your life EASY PEASY at the airport!
5. ROLL, ROLL, ROLL!: I remember my very first attempt to travel on a carry-on like it was yesterday. My friend kept making fun of me for the amount of things I packed for a work trip that was less than a week long, so that fueled my desire to try and do better for my next travel adventure, which was a six-day trip to San Francisco and Napa. I bought a ton of new clothes, had my outfits pre-planned, and when I started packing my folded clothes I realized… they weren’t going to fit. Before the panic set in, I remembered seeing a video where someone rolled the clothes and OH MY GOD. Not only did everything fit, but I even had extra space now! It’s the best thing ever! Except you need to keep your destination/airline regulations in mind because they sometimes do have weight limits on carry-on bags, but when that’s not a concern, hooray!
Also, can you make out how there are socks coming out of my shoes? Let this be bonus tip #6: shoes make GREAT storage places so pack them to the brim and make their passage useful!
I’m telling you, as far as I’ve come, I still could massively improve on my light traveling skills. I have friends that travel 3-4 weeks on a carry-on + personal item, and one in particular that travels for months on a backpack, and though I worship them, I’m not sure I can get to that level of expertise.
The only downside to traveling light is that you probably don’t have space for many souvenirs, or if you’d like to bring back a bottle of wine or any other liquid, it’s not allowed on board; however, since airlines have gotten so strict and selfish with their space, many stores in touristic destinations have wonderful shipping options you can ask about!
Do you find it easy to pack light for your trips? Please share any and all tips below, I love to find new ways to make my travel as hassle-free and focused on the important stuff, so by all means, flood the comments below 🙂