I admit, I have far too often packed way too much stuff when I have traveled. And I have so often regretted it! But over the last few years I’ve learned the advantages of traveling with a carry-on only.
Instead of waiting for a checked bag and hoping it didn’t get lost en route, I’m on my way; beating the crowd through customs or quickly making my way through the airport. With a carry-on, there is less to maneuver onto a bus or taxi, drag through the streets or have to carry.
So, in 2018 I’m committed to traveling light. Here are a few confessions and tips I’ve discovered while leaving my over-packing days behind:
- Choose your carry-on carefully. If you are traveling internationally, especially if you are a flying a budget priced airline at any point—check to verify the size of an acceptable carry-on bag. Don’t arrive at the airport and discover that your carry-on is slightly too large and you still have to check it. I’ve done this and it’s frustrating!
- Pay attention to weight. Even if you fit in a carry-on, if it’s too heavy you could still end up paying for a checked bag. And you need to lift that carry-on into the overhead bin!
- Take less! Before you pack, lay out all the clothes you think you need, and then cut it in half. Don’t take anything you don’t love to wear! When I over-pack it’s usually because I’m stressed about not having the right clothes for the right occasion and I end up with an outfit or two that I can wear only once or don’t go with anything else. So, make sure everything coordinates—base your wardrobe on a couple of colors, dressing things up or down with jewelry or scarves. Look for lightweight or quick-dry fabrics—they will wrinkle less and when you do need to wash, they’ll dry quickly. Wear your clothes more days without washing than you might at home. No one will notice!
- Use travel sized containers for toiletries and take the minimum; on the road, you’ll probably end up with a more relaxed beauty routine anyway. You can often buy toiletries in other places and it’s pretty entertaining buying things when you can’t read the labels. Throw in a small bar of soap for washing clothes as well as yourself. Then throw them all in the quart sized Ziploc bag required by security.
- Embrace a more natural hair style or buy travel versions of your hair dryer, straightener, or curling iron. If you’re staying a hotel, check to see if they have any of those items in the room.
- Even if traveling to a hot climate, take at least one outfit where your knees and shoulders will be covered; there are restrictions in many places to sites you can visit if not properly dressed. Women; take a scarf that can be used for a head covering, extra wrap, accent for neutral clothes, or to wrap fragile items (and then pack it in your extra pair of shoes.)
- Don’t overdo on shoes; choose some comfortable but stylish walking shoes that are ultra-versatile and as light as possible.
- Roll your clothes and then use packing cubes or Ziploc bags to organize and compress clothing into smaller spaces. Or, even better, consider travel compression bags.
- Take a micro fiber towel: it will dry quickly and can also be used to protect fragile items.
- Wear your heaviest or bulkiest clothes for travel; you’ll be warmer on flights when the plane is cold and you’ll save space by wearing your boots rather than packing them.
About the Author: Barb is the IDEAS DIrector of Community Life and frequently travels domestically and internationally. She is now a recovering over-packer. Check out Barb's recent post: Successful Travel Begins with your Attitude.