I’ve been on a mission to learn how to pack light for the last year.
I got a taste for it after becoming a mom, and going from having a purse full of stuff for myself, to a backpack full of stuff for my son, and nothing but a super practical wallet and phone for me.
It got to the point where I wanted to bring my beautiful, lonely leather purse on a rare solo outing and could not conjure anything besides the wallet and phone to toss in there. I could barely remember what I used to tote around for myself. Things like books and notebooks became unnecessary, with my phone’s library of audiobooks and Evernote. I’ve majorly pared down my makeup routine. And well, I kind of travel around like a guy now. While this seemed sad at first, it’s freeing; I can be out the door in a matter of seconds.
This freedom gave me an idea: what if I could apply myself and learn how to pack light for trips, too? You see, I hate packing. If I could learn to pack light it would save me loads of time, both before and after a trip! Plus, I want to teach my kids to live simply, meaning, I need to be a better role model.
After reading up on the topic and testing out different methods of paring down over the last year, I have found one method to be massively effective. It’s so simple, it’s like quitting cold turkey.
Here it is.
How to Pack Light: Start with the Bag
This appeals to both the purse and luggage-lover in me, as well as the challenge-lover. If you start with the bag you want to carry, it becomes much, much easier to let go of the items that simply won’t fit. All of the justifying and what-if scenarios get simplified.
This year I downgraded from a regular sized Swiss Gear expandable carry on at 13.5 in x 7.5 in (but expandable) x 20 to an underseat luggage model. This smaller, lighter, more versatile version can be wheeled or toted. It measures 17.0 in (so wider) x 13.0 in (about the same as the above when packed) x 8.0 in (much “shorter”).
Here’s how I did it.
- Get out everything you think you’ll need.
- Take things away, one-by-one, until it all fits in the smaller bag.
- Here are the categories that usually get edited:
Bottoms. If kept in neutral colors, are easily re-worn with no notice.
Pajamas. One pair usually cuts it.
Toiletries. Spring for travel-sized items or bottles, or make a note of things you can buy on location. I’m down to the following, broken into 2 or 3 smaller pouches (assume everything listed in a travel size):
- Cetaphil moisturizer
- one bottle of Dr. Bronners Castile soap for body, hair, and bathing suit
- lip balm
- bobby pins
- hair ties
- sample size of my foundation (from Sephora)
- makeup brush
- clear mascara
- Burts Bees Lip Shimmer in Rhubarb
One top of that, I pack a carry-on that I’m happy with, usually a backpack, and make sure not to pack it tight. Snacks and a hat usually take up the most space. Then I’ll toss in an empty smaller purse or tote for dinners or other quick outings once I reach my destination.
Try it! You’ll be surprised at how good it feels to travel light.