Tips for Packing Light

With some airline now charging for carryon luggage that won’t fit below your feet, it’s more important—and convenient—than ever to know how to pack lightly. The good news is that packing light is easy: just choose the right bag, the right amount and type of clothing, and do a little research before hitting the skyway (or highway).

Rule 1: Choose the right bag

LuggageChoose a high-quality, durable bag made of tightly-knit nylon and sturdy zippers.  This type of fabric will survive the wear and tear of traveling, is water resistant, and lighter in weight than leather.  I recommend a soft-sided bag because they can fit in to smaller spaces and take up less room when storing them.

Consider how easy the luggage is to carry.  Rolling bags are nice because they save back and shoulder pain, but they can be difficult on crowded city streets.  Backpacks eliminate the one-sided shoulder aches that might come as a result of carrying around a shoulder bag. also suggests that a good bag might also have a few smaller compartments for easy access to important items such as airline tickets, a wallet or cell phone, or even a small bottle of hand sanitizer.  Compression straps are also a nice feature.

Rule 2: Choose the right amount and right type of clothing

Most travelers only need half the clothing they pack.  Fodor’s suggests for a one-week trip taking one sweater or light jacket (unless the destination is very cold), thee or four bottoms (a combination of pants, shorts, or skirts), and no more than two pairs of shoes.  Take one shirt, one pair of underwear, and one pair of socks for each day.  Add in any seasonal necessities, such as one bathing suit, if necessary.

When thinking about clothing to pack, think in layers.  Pack tops and bottoms that can be worn in different combinations.  Choose one or two colors to work with: if you don’t like to mix blacks and browns, for example, choose one color and then choose a few other colors to mix in.  This will eliminate the need to take multiple pairs of shoes.  Pack clothing that is lightweight and won’t wrinkle: there are a lot of synthetic blends on the market that wick sweat—good for hot weather—or that are lightweight but still warm—good for cold weather.

Most importantly, pack clothing that is comfortable and versatile.

Rule 3: Do your research.

Check, and recheck, the weather.  This will eliminate the need to take clothing “just in case.” If the weather is unpredictable, pack an umbrella or light rain jacket. If traveling to religious sites, be sure to pack at least one outfit that is conservative (covers elbows and knees).

Packing light eliminates the drudgeries of lugging around a heavy bag, being burdened with extra clothing, and even provides a little room in the suitcase for souvenirs.  Try these tips on your next vacation and experience the joys of unburdening your luggage!

For more tips:

Slim Down Your Suitcase: 9 Tips for Packing Light (Fodor’s)

Packing Clothes (

Flying with Only Carry-On Bags (

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