Or how not to overpack despite knowing better.
On my recent three week adventure through Europe, despite packing a small bag, I realized I had still overpacked. My goal in life is to not only learn from my mistakes and to try to travel with the least amount of items and luggage as possible. Here are my 7 travel tips for traveling light that I’m hoping I will try to follow for future trips.
Pack as far in advance as humanly possible so you can see how much space in your bag you actually have. Of course, make sure you have a sturdy and reliable bag. Nothing is worse than having to buy a new bag while traveling. (Yes – I did have to do this twice recently in both Budapest and Florence).
Now take half of what you’ve packed out. Don’t fight this. I promise you’ll thank me later. By the end of week one, you’ll actually consider throwing out half of what you brought with you. Did I really need to bring all those dresses, skirts, and fancier clothing with me? Absolutely not.
It’s ok to reuse your outfits. Don’t have a seizure on that one Miss Fashion Thing. If you’re traveling to different cities, no one is going to remember what you had on last Tuesday. Best to pack clothes that are light and in a breathable fabric so if you need to do any hand washing, you know that it’ll dry quickly. It’s always easier to do a little wash now and then instead of lugging an extra large suitcase.
Your beauty routine at home will NOT be the same on the road. Maybe you use an astringent, a serum, a morning and an evening moisturizer, and so on. When you’re traveling, your time is limited and you’ll find that you’ll be happy if you’re able to simply wash your face at night. Knock this down to the bare minimum by buying a package of disposable makeup remover cloths and a travel size bottle of moisturizer.
Dry shampoo is your friend. I already use dry shampoo at home because of my hair color, but it has been a lifesaver on the road. Sometimes a hotel may not have a hair dryer or a working hair dryer or worse, water pressure that actually means something. Get around this with dry shampoo to still look good and it will make all the difference in the world. In addition, it also means you get to pack less styling products and tools for a lighter travel bag. My new favorite dry shampoo? Lee Stafford in the cute little pink can. Loved it so much that I picked up extra at Boots in London before coming home.
Shoes: Think versatile, light, and realistic. While those snazzy sandals might look great at home with a dress, a skirt, or shorts, it’s time to be realistic. Pack a pair of shoes that are comfortable for walking or hiking long distances. This is NOT the time to buy and pack a new pair of shoes unless you plan on popping blisters for the majority of your trip. I actually stopped once in Florence and pulled out a Bandaid to give to a fellow tourist who was shoving toilet paper into the back of her new shoes. I feel your pain sister!
Reconsider your technology needs. This advice is coming from the techy hoarder – me! Between my cameras, laptop, iPad, cords, and what not (that includes my monopod, accessories for my GoPro camera, etc.) my backpack always weighs so much. I always think I have to bring every piece of technology on the road with me or I won’t be able to function. I’m actually considering leaving my laptop at home next time. While my MacBook Air is light, it still weighs a few pounds and takes up valuable real estate in my carry on bag or backpack. I’ve taken to jotting notes in the Notes app on my iPhone so do I really need my laptop? I also carry an iPad, which I bring along to watch TV shows and movies while traveling and to read books on the Kindle app. If I really wanted to save space, I could even pass on my iPad, especially as most flights have movies and that could be my entertainment. But I’ll have to think about that one a little more.
What do you do to help you travel lighter?