The goal: to take a small carry-on sized bag with on you on your trip. The reality: it’s possible – but you’ll certainly have to work hard at it. Whether you’re going on a backpacking trip across Europe or just hate having to wait at the carousel at any major airport, packing light is certainly ideal if you can manage it. Looking for some ways on how you can cut back on the clutter and keep your bag well under the 20lbs limit? Here are some tips to ensure that you get to bring that piece of carry on with you rather than needing to check it in at the airport:
The Luggage Choice
When it comes to lightweight luggage, you usually have three choices:
1) A carry-on bag on wheels
2) An internal-frame backpack
3) A carry-on bag that can be converted into a backpack with shoulder straps that can zip away.
The last choice really gives you the best of both words – you get a backpack that’s great for any hiking or backpacking holidays, while also getting the luxury of a compact and low-key suitcase if you’re in a more metropolitan area. The only drawback is that they aren’t very comfortable for long hauls, so if you plan on going on an extensive hiking holiday, do your back and shoulders a favour and stick with the internal-frame backpack. I found a website called Luggage Superstore that has a massive range of lightweight luggage here – so it’s a good place to start.
Packing Your Stuff
Most of your luggage is sure to be filled with tons of clothing. To minimize on the amount of “stuff”, simply bring less. This means wearing certain items repeatedly over and over, choosing clothing that compliments one another, and choosing clothing that has several different uses (i.e. some men’s swim shorts can double up as hiking shorts). Keep colour coordination in mind, and plan on doing at least a couple loads of laundry while you’re traveling (or you can scrub you clothes out in a washroom sink – just buy some laundry soap while you’re there).
It’s important to also avoid packing for the “worst case scenario” as most of us tend to do. Think about what you definitely do need and don’t bother worrying about what you might need. If you happen to need rain protection while you’re venturing through Venice, then you can pick up a cheap poncho or an umbrella while you’re there; you don’t need to pack it in your luggage “just in case”.
Leave Room For Souvenirs
If you’re already stressed for space, consider this fact: souvenirs. Many traveling experts recommend that you leave anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of your bag’s space free so that you can drag home some souvenirs for yourself, for friends, and for family. If you can’t manage the space, then make sure that you pack a featherweight nylon bag that you can stuff full of souvenirs and that you can still use a carry-on on you return flight.
If this post has inspired you, but you want to read more about traveling light, Rick Steves has a great article about it here.