Each year, I travel about 200 plus days. If you add up the time it takes to check bags and to retrieve bags, it can easily add an hour to your day. On top of that, there is a chance the airline will lose your luggage. When you learn how to travel light, you will save time and never lose your luggage. Once, my luggage decided to take a trip to Istanbul without me. For the last 3 years, I travel exclusively with a carry on and a backpack. This trip, I am flying to the Northeast United States, battling the rain and cold, then flying out to Colombia for another two weeks in the hot and humid climate. Even with 3 pairs of shoes, my laptop, my DSLR and camera lenses, work clothes and a mix of beach and casual wear with a winter coat, I am still traveling carry on only. How do I do it? Easy. It just requires a bit of creative planning.
How to Travel Light Tips & Tricks:
1) Get the most out of your luggage – Make sure your carry on luggage doesn’t have dead space. There are really pretty bags with structured designs that look cool on the outside, but take up precious space on the inside. Look for a luggage that uses all available space. And since you will be carrying everything, the lighter the bag, the better. I recently purchased a new Samsonite Spinner luggage weighing 8lbs and it has made a huge difference. My other Samsonite bag, which only made it a little over one year, was on the verge of falling apart. One of the wheels were no longer working and I was literally dragging the luggage. This time, I looked for heavy duty wheels. I prefer the ones with a dual wheel because they seem to glide easier. Also, I prefer hard luggage with an expandable zipper. I use to travel with a soft side luggage but found I would over stuff the bag and it wouldn’t fit into the overhead compartment. The great thing about the zippered hard luggage is once everything is zipped, it will fit perfectly every time. Stay away from the conventional hard luggage because they are really finicky and are hard to close if the alignment is even slightly off. Last, I sit on the luggage to test it’s strength. Depending on how much you weigh, this may or may not be the best idea, but I want to make sure it can handle at least over 100 lbs of weight empty, both laying on its side and standing upright.
2) Bring versatile clothing you can re-wear – Just like jeans, make sure to pack articles of clothing to build outfits around. A cute summer dress can transition into an elegant evening with a cardigan, heels & accessories. Plan out your outfits ahead of time and add accessories to glam it up.
3) Bring Ziploc bags & Trash bags – Dirty clothes goes in the trash bag and ziplock bags come in handy to pack snacks as well as to contain liquids from spilling. I like to double bag liquids, just in case. Bring extra trash bags in case it rains and you need to make a make shift poncho for your electronics.
4) Hand wash your clothes – Bar soap. Water. A little elbow grease. Done
5) Roll your clothes up – Don’t just dump clothes into the luggage or fold them. This takes up more space, plus your clothes get wrinkled in the process. If you are bringing shoes, tuck things like socks or underwear into the space to use all available space.
6) Downsize on your liquids. If you have to have your favorite conditioner, bring it, but you can do without the shampoo. My favorite facial cleaner and body soap is VaniCream Cleaning Bar, which you can get at a drugstore for about $6. It’s extremely gentle on your skin, and doesn’t count take up space in my liquids bag. One of my favorite finds is a chewable tablet solid toothpaste by Lush. It is so easy to travel with and they have a variety of flavors. A good night cream is essential as well as an eye cream, since being on an airplane dehydrates your skin. And of course, travel size sunscreen makes the list. You can always get travel containers and refill as needed. The same goes for hair products as well.
7) If you don’t have to sit on the bag to close it, you have more space. The trick is to pack your bag using all available space, so the denser the better. If you are going on vacation and you want to bring back souvenirs , pack a different bag for the return portion. Most major airlines allow 2 free checked bags for international flights. You can always check a bag on the way back.
8) Get a backpack or a big tote. Don’t bring the purse unless it is HUGE. I travel with my Macbook Pro laptop, Kindle, DSLR, battery packs and food. I have a huge Kenneth Cole Reaction Backpack which allows me to pack about 35-40lbs of stuff. I pack my purse in my luggage because I have more usable space in the backpack. This makes a huge difference in what I can bring with me on my trips.
Traveling light is easy when you plan ahead. The important part is making sure everything you pack will be used at least a few times. If not, it doesn’t make the trip. Once you start traveling with only a carry on, you will realize how easy it is and how much time you save by not waiting for you bags. It also allows you to be more mobile. Happy Travels!