Packing lights can be challenging if you’re new to them. You need to learn the rules first. There are restrictions on the size and weight of luggage, as well as what you can secrets to packing light.
If you understand the rules, you can move on to the guiding principles that will help you maximize your packing space.
Packing for your trip will vary depending on where you are going, how long it will last, the weather, and what you will be doing. This article presents seven universal packing principles that can be applied to any trip.
Traveling can be stressful, especially when you have to pack a suit. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to pack a suit in a carry-on so you can travel with ease.
The act of packing is similar to grammar. First, you have to know the rules before you can break them. You need to learn how to work within them before you can start breaking them.
1: Pack “Must Have,” Not “Just In Case.”
Lay out all your clothes and all your money before traveling. Then take half your clothes and twice your money. Light packing requires sacrifices.
It’s impossible to pack clothes for every possible situation. You should only bring what you wear on an average day.
Pareto Principle, aka 80/20 Principle, should be considered when packing.
When packing, this means you should only pack the 20% of your wardrobe you wear 80% of the time. Make sure to pack your normal clothes. Wearing it on the road will not be desirable if you don’t reach for it all the time at home.
You should bring your core wardrobe that you wear all the time at home. You will be able to cover more than 80% of the scenarios you may encounter on the road with those clothes.
If you find yourself in a situation that you didn’t prepare for, buy or borrow what you need. A lot of your “what ifs” will never come true. Be careful not to carry unnecessary physical and mental baggage around.
Even if a surprise occurs, you can solve it with a temporary solution, not one you have to deal with for the duration of your trip.
With a friend, I planned a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand while working in Sydney, Australia. My coat wasn’t warm enough for winter in Queenstown, so I bought a cheap one in Sydney. A coworker who was planning a similar trip bought the coat after I returned from New Zealand.
They got a deal, and I made most of the money that I’d spent. I considered the “lost” money to be the cost of renting a house. It was better to lose a few dollars on the exchange than to drag a winter coat from the United States to Australia to New Zealand and back again.
Keep your pack light and flexible. You will encounter some adventures as you deal with situations as they arise.
2: Pack for One Week
I would like to thank Anil at foXnoMad for helping me understand this idea.
Break your packing list down into manageable chunks: one week if you’re traveling for two weeks, a month, or a year.
An extended trip can’t be planned for every possible contingency.
Pack to last one week instead. This is a manageable amount of time. You can visualize one week’s worth of clothes easily. Your entire closet would contain a year’s worth of clothing.
You will need to do laundry if you are traveling for longer than two weeks or less. Make sure you pack accordingly.
When you’re on a short trip, hand wash your basic items like socks, t-shirts, and underwear between washing cycles.
If you’re traveling for a longer period of time, use a cheap laundromat or wash-and-fold service.
Leaving your dirty clothes at a cleaning service will save you time and money in many countries. You can then pick up your clean clothes the next day in a neatly bundled package.
My two weeks’ worth of clothes can be washed and folded for $15 in San Francisco. It would be less expensive to do laundry three times, which would yield six weeks’ worth of clean clothes, for $45 instead of checking a bag on a roundtrip flight. You can find cheaper services in other cities.
Checking a bag is more expensive than doing laundry.
Packing light also provides convenience, flexibility, and a lighter mental and physical load.
3: Pack Layers, Not Bulk
Travel in layers when the weather is cold or you are going through multiple climates.
It’s easier to pack multiple thin layers than bulky items such as coats and sweaters, which take up more space.
You will never be able to fit everything else in your bag if you keep one heavy sweater in it.
A You can layer merino wool base layers or thermal shirts with other items or take them off according to the weather. Merino wool base layers or thermal shirts can be layered with other items or taken off as needed.
Pack for autumn if you will be traveling through different climates. You can expect cool mornings, warm afternoons, and cold nights. Bring appropriate clothing.
A t-shirt, base layer, and light jacket are what I usually wear when I head out in the morning. I can remove one or both of the outer layers as the weather changes. They can be put back on when it gets dark.
Wearing thin layers allows you to stay flexible while keeping your pack light. You can pack two t-shirts and two base layers even more compactly than a sweater.
Pack an ultralight down jacket or a fleece jacket if you will be traveling in very cold or wintry weather. Make sure not to bring your jacket. If the whole trip is going to be cold, pack it. We’ll explain why in the next section.
4: If It’s Bulky, Wear It
If you need something bulky, like a sweater or a winter coat, wear it instead of packing it.
Wear a coat when you’re going on a trip in the winter. If it is impractical to wear the coat the entire trip-for example if you will be spending time in a warmer climate-don’t bring a coat at all.
If you won’t be wearing the coat the entire trip-for instance if you will spend time in a hotter climate-don’t bring a coat at all. The same applies to sweatshirts and sweaters. We recommend skipping them in favor of thinner layers. In cold weather, however, you may want to wear them.
5: Pack Your Lightest Pair of Shoes
The most common reason for overpacking is shoes. Lots of people trip up at this hurdle, including men.
The following are my simple, no-brainer rules:
- You should bring no more than two pairs of shoes, including the ones you are wearing.
- If you’re wearing boots or sneakers, wear the bulkier pair.
- The smaller pair should be packed. The flattened pair must be light. Flip flops, sandals, flats, and espadrilles are all great choices.
The problem has been solved. You should not let your shoes prevent you from packing light.
6: Wear the Right Fabrics
Consider your clothing materials when packing light for any weather.
The problem with cotton is that it gets stinky, wrinkles easily, and dries slowly on the road.
Merino wool and synthetic performance fabrics are recommended.
It is ideal to wear merino wool in the winter and in the summer because it keeps you cool and warm. However, high-quality wool clothing can be quite expensive.
Wool t-shirts can cost between $40 and $80. An average pair of wool socks costs $10-20.
Wool clothes should be viewed as investments. Save up for them. Buy only a few pieces of high quality.
You shouldn’t worry about the total price. It’s more important to consider how much it costs per wear. I justify my expensive jeans by calculating how much they cost per wear. A good pair of raw denim jeans is expensive. I wear them every day, and they’re tough as nails. Whenever anything happens, I get them patched up and keep wearing them.
You’ll spend less money if you buy good quality.
The price of performance fabrics is lower than that of wool. When you don’t wash them after wearing them, they smell bad. They do a nice job of wicking sweat away.
In addition to blending, there is also the option of blending. Triblend t-shirts blend the best attributes of synthetics and cotton into a shirt that doesn’t wrinkle, doesn’t hold on to bad smells and feels like a natural fiber. Merino wool blends offer all the benefits of merino wool with more durability at a lower cost. It is not necessary to choose between natural and synthetic fabrics. Both are acceptable.
7: Simplify Your Colour Palette
Choose a simple, neutral color scheme and pack only clothes that fit this scheme.
By keeping your color scheme simple, you can maximize the number of outfits you can create with your clothes. Make sure everything matches. You can wear anything with anything else.
For example, four shirts and four pairs of pants should result in sixteen outfits, not four. The sum of four tops and four bottoms equals sixteen outfits (4 * 4 = 16).
To maximize the number of looks you can create with your travel wardrobe, bring pieces, not complete outfits.
Colors and patterns that are harder to coordinate should be kept to accessories. You can wear that scarf if you like it.
Bonus: Packing the Right Bag
As far as packing is concerned, people tend to fill as much space as they can. If you want to pack less, give yourself less space to do so.
Make sure your bag is small enough to fit in your carry-on. When you first start packing light, that size might seem restrictive to you. Don’t worry. You need constraints. It’s a common practice for people to downsize even further once they’re used to packing a carry-on.
On my first trip to Europe, I brought a bag that was way too big. My luggage was way too heavy, and I carried around a pair of dress shoes that I never wore.
Outbreaker backpacks are carry-on-sized, easy to pack, and comfortable to carry. A set of packing cubes will help you organize even more.
Packing light won’t be a problem if you have a carry-on bag that fits perfectly.
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