Travel Tip #4: Pack Light

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It is the week before you leave for your big trip and you are starting to get really excited. You have confirmed your hotel reservations and double (ok, triple)-checked your flights. Now it is time to pack. Sure, you don’t leave for a week, but packing your bag early has its advantages. With the extra time, you can buy or borrow anything you think you might need, launder your favorite jeans (it’s been awhile), charge your camera’s battery and thoughtfully review all that you are planning on bringing. It is this last reason that is the key to packing light.

Why pack light you say? Several reasons. First, your stuff is heavy, and the more of your stuff you pack, the more energy you will spend schlepping it on your trip. You will be tired of your bag before you get to the hotel. Second, your stuff is valuable, and by bringing it with you, you have put it at risk for loss or damage. Third, you plan on buying more stuff on your trip, right? And just where were you planning to put it? I thought so. So you need to pack light. Trust me, you can do this.

To start, do as Rick Steves says and, “Lay out what you think you need and then pack half.” It sounds simple, but it’s pretty hard to do. Your vacation is not a fashion show; you can wear the same pair of jeans (remember, you washed them just before you left) and shirt as long as they are still reasonably clean. Do you need that sweater and hoodie? You do need clean underwear, but do you need 4 t-shirts? By going through item-by-item and looking at your trip day-by-day, you will find that much of what you laid out is extra.

Next, put it all in your carry on luggage. Does it fit? Are you sure? Because you have to remember that your luggage will never be as organized as it is right now, since you spent the last week to folding everything up and fitting it in Tetris-style. If it doesn’t all fit, look again. There is more that can come out. Instead of packing your jacket, wear it.

Finally, when you have your bag all packed, pick it up. Is the weight manageable? Can you stuff it into an overhead compartment without making a scene? How about carrying it up a flight of stairs? Good. Your bag is now ready to travel.

Know Before You Go

Check the weather to get an idea of the kinds of clothes you will need to bring.

Bottom Line

Packing light will only work to your advantage. It can be hard, but by asking yourself if you REALLY need each item, you will find that your bag just got lighter.

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Last updated: February 19, 2014