At some point in our lives, we will need (or want) to travel. It may be for business. It can be for a vacation. It can be international. Or it can be local. We can travel alone or we can be traveling with our family or friends or colleagues. It doesn’t really matter. We will be needing to bring stuff with us. And by stuff, I mean clothes, toiletries, and all manner of electronic gadgets and perhaps reading material to keep us connected and entertained. Plus maybe your grandmother’s handkerchief that you always carry for good luck.
At this point, you might be wondering what the title of this article means. You just grab whatever you can from your closet and throw them all inside a big suitcase, right? No brainer! Why the heck do I have to pack light? Well, that’s actually the no-brainer.
Packing light brings with it several benefits.
- It’s good for your back. Walking long airport terminals with 40 kilos of even those smooth-gliding Rimowa trolley bags and a bulging Tumi backpack will tire you out even before you board the plane.
- It’ll free up precious kilos for a shopping spree. As I said, that’s a no-brainer. We love to shop but we hate being charged for excess baggage weight. (And it’s really a stiff surcharge that will wipe out whatever bargain you might have enjoyed splurging at the night market.)
- It’ll free up space in your suitcases. You never know when you’ll run into a half-price sale of a huge 1:8 scale Millennium Falcon. But you can’t bring it home because the only space you’ve got left is for a tiny Wookie statuette.
If those are no incentives for you to pack light, then I don’t know what are.
So how exactly do you pack light? Here are some tips:
- If it’s for a week-long trip (or shorter), plan your clothes on a day-by-day basis. Lay out on your bed what you’ll be wearing on Day 1, Day 2, etc. So you needn’t bring different articles of clothing for each day, choose sturdy pants or skirts that you can reuse on different days by mixing and matching with different tops. If you’re staying for two weeks or more, then get friendly with an affordable laundry service. Just don’t bring clothes for two weeks without having to repeat any of them. Your baggage will be overweight before you even take off. Duh.
- Of course, make sure most (if not all) your clothes are color-coordinated so you don’t end up with black socks when you’ve only brought brown shoes. That’s where laying out the clothes on your bed will prove most useful. Lay out the clothes so you can see if belts, socks, and even watches will match the outfits.
- If it’s cold, try to bring just one jacket or sweater. And more importantly, try to bring just one pair of shoes. Two at the most (if you absolutely need variety in color or you’re attending a formal function and need dress shoes)—especially if you travel with them in boxes. Shoes are the single most space-eating item you can bring. Next perhaps to winter clothes.
- Minimize and miniaturize. Most hotels have complete toiletries. But I still prefer to bring most of the stuff myself. What I do is bring the smallest size of toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, and other toiletries that can last the duration of my trip.
- Last but not least, use the biggest suitcase you can bring. This means at least a medium-sized suitcase for a two- or three-nighter and a large-sized one for anything longer than that. This will allow you maximum space for shopping sprees (remember the Millennium Falcon)—never mind the surprised look when porters lift your seemingly-empty bag.
Follow these simple tips and you’re guaranteed a fun and painless trip anytime, anywhere.