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.
Shoes. Wear a pair of comfy, neutral sneakers, and pack one pair of versatile sandals.
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.
Ellen Zucker says
Plus you won’t have to check bags on the plane.
This is a very helpful article! I also hate packing because I always tend to pack almost everything in my closet. I will certainly try these tips and hopefully, I can be a light packer as well. Thanks for sharing these things Wendy!