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Sometimes the biggest cause of panic around travelling is the great fear of forgetting something, and to counter this anxiety, many of us overpack. Just to make sure we cover all bases, we might be tempted to pack items “just in case” so we end up with bulging bags that are difficult to manage and might end up costing us extra in baggage fees.
We are here to tell you that after many years of travelling with SO MUCH gear (photographers, amiright?) we’ve learned how to minimise on the nonessential items and make life at airports much easier!
Here are some tips for travelling light.
1. Pack for one week, no more
Even if you’re going to be on the road for multiple weeks, you’re most likely going to find a laundromat or have the opportunity to get laundry done once a week.
If you limit yourself to a week’s worth of underwear and shirts, you’re going to save space. It will force you to think critically about clothes that are re-wearable and choose items that work for different occasions, or pick tops pair nicely with different bottoms.
Never pack items that you haven’t worn in the last three months “just in case” the occasion to finally wear it presents itself. The chances are, it won’t!
2. Invest in lightweight, versatile items
Most avid travellers will tell you that buying a few quality, versatile, durable items is the way to go.
Lots of outdoor gear is designed to be warm, wind-resistant, easy to clean, and light to pack. Adventure travel has evolved to incorporate the needs to outdoorsmen while considering restrictions on baggage, so there are great things out there that are worth investing in.
An example is a microfibre towel – small and light and quick to dry, these towels are a million times easier to travel with than a bulky cotton towel.
Pack one warm fleecy sweatshirt and one lightweight windbreaker (if your destination requires it), and trust that between the two, you will be ok.
3. Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes
Shoes – every light-packers nightmare! Obviously, footwear depends on what your adventure has in store. But a general rule of thumb is to pack one pair of “working shoes” and one pair of quick, lightweight shoes you can slip on and off and wear with anything (flip-flops come to mind).
Your other pair of shoes should be trainers or hiking shoes, or whatever your destination calls for. Your need for that nice pair of dress shoes for the one nice evening at that one restaurant won’t make for easy packing or travelling.
The idea behind this “two pairs of shoes” approach is that you’ll always be wearing one pair and only have one pair to pack!
4. Leave a quarter of your bag empty
This is a handy tip that many people forego because it’s natural for us to want to pack more than enough rather than leave extra space.
However, having an overly full bag is difficult to manage if you need to remove items and repack things (which you inevitably will need to do). Not only is it lighter and easier to manage at airports, but it ensures that there is space available for souvenirs and special things you buy to take home with you.
You’ll be thankful for this one when it comes time to head home!
5. Downsize the toiletries
Instead of using a neatly compartmentalised case for all your bathroom products, find a soft-shell toiletry bag that doesn’t demand so much space.
Also downsize the size and quantities of your bath products; use a bar of soap instead of a liquid gel; pack broad spectrum pain killers or anti-biotics rather than multiple different medical supplies.
Travel sized sunscreen, toothpaste, and shampoo are big space-savers too!
Travelling offers up the most exciting and most exhausting times in life. Living out of a bag isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it for the adventure.
If you travel often, using some of these hacks for packing light can help you achieve the stress-free travel experience we all want.
Written by Chloe Cooper
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SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) is a global non-profit organisation that audits social and environmental performance to ensure improved working conditions throughout the supply chain globally.