We have traveled extensively around the world as a group and as individuals. A few of us have also lived abroad in the United States for extended periods of time. From all of our travels, we have learned a few lessons when traveling to make it both enjoyable and light weight, so you’re not lugging around more than you need. These lessons aren’t specific to any country or region, they are really universal for traveling anywhere.

So a few thoughts first and then I’ll drop a list a little further down. First, you will be tempted to pack much more than you really need. Put your items out on the floor or on a bed and look at all the stuff you think you are going to need. Second, put them into a must have, should have and nice to have areas. These 3 sections will help you put a priority on what you need. Lastly, get a suitcase that is manageable, meaning, if you can get your must have an should have items in a carry on, do so. Get a few nice to have items (as long as they will clear security checks) and put them in a small backpack or sling bag.

Now for a list of ways to limit down what you are taking with you.

  1. Electronics – take as few as you can get by with and consolidate the chargers if you can or purchase one that will adapt to all of them. I typically limit it to my phone and tablet, but if you need a laptop, make sure it is lightweight.
  2. Clothing – You really only need to pack 4 changes of clothes. I would recommend looking into lightweight travel clothing from a company called Ex Officio or similar clothing that can be easily washed out in a sink and hung to dry in less than 24 hours. This will limit the weight you are carrying tremendously. Pack one extra set of clothing in your small backpack or bag if you are checking a bag in, just in case your luggage is lost. I had this happen while traveling to China. My bag didn’t arrive for 2 days…
  3. Hygiene needs – Many items you think you will need can be purchased locally, so you don’t need to pack them with you. Laundry detergent, for example, can be purchased locally, or you can put a small amount of powdered detergent in a zipper plastic bag if you are checking a bag in. If you have a carry on, check the security requirements. Most people will only need a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and make-up if you are a female.
  4. Shoes – Usually you’ll only need the shoes you wear on the trip, an additional pair, and some comfortable flip flops or casual shoes to wear around your hotel or flat. So really 2 pairs of shoes and flops will get you by. These will take up the most space in your luggage.
  5. Packing your luggage – Roll your clothing up. Stick small items inside your shoes and get the lightweight travel clothing that takes up even less space.
  6. Jacket – Carry a lightweight jacket in your backpack or carry bag. If you are going somewhere that is cold, you’ll be wearing your heavy coat.
  7. Get a security pouch – Wear this under your clothing and put your cash, traveler’s cheques, passport and other identification here. Not in your side bag or in your pockets. Keep very limited cash within easy reach while you are traveling.

Here is a great article from the Huffington Post on how to pack light.

How to NOT overpack video

I hope you enjoyed our travel tips. I compiled them from the group while we were waiting in a train station one evening. I think they are solid tips and I follow them regularly.