In the first piece of this series, “Step Down to Carry On,” we focused on getting “max packers,” or travellers who typically pack two suitcases, a carry on, and a personal item, down to a moderate carry-on and a checked bag combo. Max packers are travellers who pack two suitcases, a carry on, and a personal item.
In this article, the second in our three-part series, I’ll be showing the moderate travel packer how to scale down to being a light checker, which means travelling with a small checked bag and a carry on.
Of course, overpacking can take on a variety of forms, so it’s important to keep this in mind. Specifically, I’ll be focusing on how to reduce the size of your checked bag.
If you are just a modest packer, then reducing the amount of luggage you bring may not necessarily save you money on the baggage costs.
However, this will allow you to walk about more easily, provide more space for souvenirs, and give you the impression that you have packed lightly enough to be able to utilise public transit instead of cabs. Are you prepared to bring even less with you? Keep reading.
Recap of Part One: Light Packing Tips to Build On
Before continuing on, I would want to go over a few of the fundamental pointers that were discussed in the last article of this series since I will be expanding upon those points in this piece.
These pointers are comprehensive enough to be useful for overpackers of any degree, but to spare you from harping on the same points over and over again, I’ll simply briefly review them here:
- Change your bags for something smaller
- You should limit your “just in case” items
- Make every item you bring as useful as possible
- Preparation two days ahead of time
- Vacuum seal bags and packing cubes will help you organize your luggage
- Check in online to save time
We will now move on to the next series of steps to transform your luggage from moderate to light.
Step 1: Get an Even Smaller Bag
I can’t stress this point enough: if you have a smaller bag, you’ll carry less things with you. Every packer has a tendency to feel driven to stuff their bag to its utmost capacity, regardless of the size of their bag. Less room equals less goods.
If you are reducing the size of your baggage from a big bag and carry on to a small bag and carry on, your goal should be to have both pieces of luggage be the size of a carry on.
Aim to have just one backpack and one rollaboard so that you can carry both of them while still having access to one hand at all times.
This set will not only make it simpler for you to navigate around the airport and the city, but it will also provide you with plenty of room to pack all of the luxuries from home that you want to bring with you on the journey.
Even though you won’t be taking it on, you should look for a roller bag that is the size allowed for carry-on luggage. This will help you avoid purchasing a bag that is too big for your needs. The best carry-on and checked luggage are compared and reviewed in the Wirecutter’s buyer’s guides.
A larger backpack is considered a carry-on ultralight backpacking gear.
You will be able to load all of your trip necessities, as well as a couple of spare clothes and anything else that didn’t fit in your checked luggage, into a big travel backpack that has a capacity of between 39 and 45 liters that you can use as your carry-on.
Step 2: Ditch the Personal Item
Give yourself the challenge of fitting everything into just these two bags, and if you succeed, you may kind of abandon the personal items.
I still advise having a personal item with you, but you should stow it away in your carry-on luggage. After all, you’ll need a more manageable backpack once you reach at your location so that you can easily navigate the local area.
You’ll be able to take advantage of this additional overflow space on the flight back to your hometown if you bring a personal item that you don’t use while you’re travelling.
A daypack that can be packed down, a tote, or a compact handbag are all good options for this.
If you would prefer not have your carry-on beneath your seat, a helpful piece of advice is to pack all of your in-flight requirements in this bag, but then place this bag in the overhead bin and don’t take it out until after you’ve boarded the plane.
By doing so, you are providing yourself with an additional “insurance” policy in the event that you decide you want to carry some mementos or presents back with you.
Step 3: Use a Destination Packing List
When we travel, particularly to a foreign place, we tend to bring more things with us than we really need since we are never quite sure what we will need once we get at our destination.
Focusing your packing with a destination list that was made by someone who has been there before will help you get rid of even more of those “just in case stuff” that you’ll never use and ensure that you don’t forget anything that you’ll truly need.
You’re in luck since we’ve compiled an extensive selection of packing lists that are organised by both location and category. Please let us know if you are unable to locate a packing list specific to your trip. We are going to write it.
When I pack, I don’t always adhere strictly to the list that I make. I use packing lists to modify the primary packing list for my carry-on luggage, which I use for every trip.
Since I usually detest having the sensation that I’m the only oddball wearing a tank top, I’ll also have a look at the packing lists that are provided by Travel Fashion Girl in order to get a sense for the style that is prevalent in various locations.
Step 4: Pack for fewer days than you’ll be traveling.
Reduce the length of your vacation by two days after you have determined what items are essential for packing for your trip.
Because this is a light packer method that requires some getting used to, I decided not to include it in the first part of the sequence that we are going through. But in all seriousness, it does the job.
Instead of packing enough clothes for seven days for a vacation to New York that lasts a week, bring enough for five days.
Leaving for a short trip of two or three days? Instead of packing three different pairs of pants, consider wearing the same pair of jeans twice and bringing a few extra shirts.
Even for lengthy travel, you should never carry more than a week’s worth of clothes. On a journey of that length and duration, you will almost certainly need to do some washing.
My rule for myself is that I can only have seven different pairs of underpants at a time. In case you were wondering what was going on with the washing, each morning I washed the clothes by hand in the bathtub.
If you’ve already used some of our other suggestions for light packing, such as selecting items of clothing that are versatile and easy to mix and match, concentrating on neutral tones, and spicing up ensembles with accessories, then this additional approach will be simple to implement.
A useful piece of advice is to include into the overall number of garments you bring what you want to wear while travelling.
Step 5: Seriously Organize Your Bag
In the last part of this series, we took one step toward greater organization: using packing cubes and compression bags to assist sort your belongings by category and find any duplication in your luggage. This was an important step in the process of becoming more organised.
The following are some more organisational suggestions that might help you reduce the size of your bag:
- Use only travel-sized toiletries to reduce your toiletry bag
- Place items in their designated spots outside of your bag
- If you are bringing shoes that take up a lot of space, put smaller items in them
- Don’t leave gaps between items like in a Tetris game
- Distribute the weight by packing light things on the bottom, heavy things in the middle, and medium-sized things on top.
Light packers have a few tricks up their sleeves, but one of the easiest tactics is to just have a list and be well organised in the manner that you pack. Being well organised and having a plan will help you pack more efficiently.
It takes work to go from being a regular checker to solely travelling with carry-on luggage. Taking a number of somewhat sized steps toward this objective is preferable than making one massive leap in that direction.
After you have built up your confidence, you are ready for the last phase, which is to travel with just a carry-on bag.