If you’re guilty of “just in case” overpacking and find yourself bringing a third sun hat to a vacation, don’t stress.
Here’s how to cut the cord and brave your next vacation with only the things you need. Wether you’re part of a big group or trying an adventurous solo holiday.
Keep a (short) list
Walk yourself through a hypothetical vacation day. Picture all the things you’ll need as you go—pajamas, hairdryer, swimsuit etc.—and note them down. Now, go through the list again and remove anything that you can realistically get at your destination. For example—cross-off “hairdryer” if you can use one at the hotel. Finally, pare down the list to what is truly essential. Only plan on swimming once or twice? You only need one swimsuit.
It’s a great idea to plan your packing around both the weather you expect at your destination and the activities you’re hoping to do. As you pack, choose items that have more than one function—like a jacket that’s both warm and waterproof so you don’t need a separate raincoat and coat, or a mini towel that doubles as an in-flight pillow, or a toiletry bag with a built-in mirror.
Leave bulky things at home
Giant beach towels, several pairs of shoes, wide-brimmed floppy hats… these space hogs will quickly eat up the packing room. Think of creative ways to replace them or just leave them at home. Get a microfiber towel, buy a towel once you arrive or simply use one from the hotel. Bring a small Kindle or device and forgo big books and magazines. Finally, consider all-in-one footwear—the right pair of shoes can take you everywhere, and you can always tuck in a tiny pair of dressier shoes or sandals if necessary.
Finally, an obvious tip that’s easy to overlook: if you’re bringing shampoo, deodorants and body washes—just bring less of them. Choose mini travel sizes or decant bigger bottles yourself into smaller ones you can store in Ziploc bags. You’ll pass more quickly through the TSA check and you won’t be lugging around loads of product you won’t actually use. Finally, pick only a few most essential makeup and grooming items, and one or two pieces of most-loved jewelry—you always need less than you think!
A great way to master lightweight packing is to learn from past travel experience. Take note of what you’ve actually used when you return home. Some travel pros do this to refine their standard packing list over time, so they know exactly what to pack each trip, give or take a few tweaks.
Wherever you’re going, and for however long, traveling is about getting away from everyday life and routines.
So, why saddle yourself up with an oversized bag? With a little clever planning, you can travel light and take on your next adventure.