I can be a bit of a heavy packer sometimes. Perhaps it’s my ADD, but I often don’t pay attention to packing until the last minute before I go on a trip and then I just frantically throw a bunch of things in a bag and hope for the best. Lately, however, I’ve been working on changing my ways because, quite frankly, it’s a pain in the butt to lug a heavy bag through airports, on trains, and around town. I was inspired by some friends of mine who posted a photo of their hotel room bathtub laundry routine on Facebook while on a trip to China recently and I thought, you know, I can do that too!
I’ve been working on packing lighter and here are some of the things I find help:
Don’t worry about bringing everything you need.
Unless you’re planning on traveling out into the middle of nowhere, chances are there are people who live every day in your destination, and those people have managed to find all the things they need in order to maintain their daily lives. If they can, you can too. Instead of packing your life in a bag, bring just the essentials you need to get through the first couple days of your trip and then go shopping. People all over the world are able to buy shampoo, conditioner, soap, laundry detergent, etc. and you can, too. Even clothing can be obtained all over the world, and it’s fun to shop for new items, anyway.
Of course, buying everything can be expensive depending on your destination….
Ok, I get it. You don’t have the money to buy a whole new wardrobe every time you travel. I certainly don’t, and unless your last name is Hilton or you happen to be traveling in an exceptionally affordable destination, you might not be able to either. Things like clothes and shoes aren’t always cheap, so you’ll want to pack them to take with you. Still, you don’t need to pack for every day on your journey…you can always do laundry! Find yourself a coin laundry in town or do like my friends and hand wash some things in the bathtub or sink and hang them to dry. I’ve done this while traveling as well and I find the thing to do is to bring about three days worth of clothing (with layers, in case the weather fluctuates). Wash your clothes in the evening in the sink, wring them out, and hang them to dry. In two days they should certainly be dry and you can wear them again.
Keep your wardrobe simple and functional.
If you pack things in simple colors that can be easily layered and mixed and matched, it will be much easier to pack less. Also consider bringing items that can perform multiple functions. For instance, an extra-large scarf can serve as a scarf, a shawl, a headscarf (if traveling in a Muslim country), a sarong for the beach, and a small blanket if you get cold).
Bring shoes that can serve multiple purposes as well. If you bring a solid black or stylish pair of sneakers, you can use them to work out and to walk around the city. Fancy sandals are good for sunny days and can be dressed up for nice dinners. I find a good pair of ballet slippers can be dressed up or down and are great for travel as well. Whatever shoes you choose to bring, make sure they serve multiple purposes for your destination.
Electronics…keep it simple.
The nice thing about this digital age we live in is that most of the things we need while traveling can all be kept electronically. Instead of carrying a camera, a phone, guidebooks, a paperback novel to read, magazines, etc. you can pretty much put all of this on one smart phone and be done with it. I do need a laptop when I travel because I like to blog, but I purchased an inexpensive and extremely lightweight Chromebook that I use while traveling and it’s much less cumbersome than the MacBook Pro I use at home.
Are you a light packer or a heavy packer? Do you have any tips to share for those of us who might want to lighten our travel load?