Essential Tips to Master the Art of Packing Light

Minimize, friend. You may be more resourceful than you think.

Packing light for me is more a philosophy than just adhering to a list of essentials. It will do you no good if you follow a list, then spend your vacation worrying that you didn’t bring enough.

Here are some guidelines to figure out if packing light is for you:

Find out why you want to pack light

People pack light for different reasons. Some want to be able to move freely. Others want to bypass the luggage carousel when they get to their destination. Others want to save space for lots of souvenirs. When figuring out why you want to pack light, make sure that you’re doing it for yourself. Doing it because it’s the cool thing to do or because everyone’s doing it is only going to make you agitated and secretly miserable, so for the sake of your trip, only do it if it’s something you’re truly comfortable with.

Determine what packing “light” means to you

For many people, packing light means bringing only the necessities. What is necessary, though, means different things to different people. Some brave souls can travel with just a spare shirt and a change of underwear; others need a week’s worth of clothes for a three-day trip. None of these are right or wrong—it’s about traveling with what you think is your bare minimum.

Start slowly

If you want to switch from two suitcases to a backpack, do it slowly, over a series of trips, to allay the sense of fear that you will inevitably get after leaving home with, say, one less shirt. Remember that not having everything at hand isn’t the end of the world, and in some cases, can even help you become more flexible.

Make sure things have more than one use

Seasoned light packers make sure that some, if not most, of their items have more than one use. For example, sarong can be a skirt, a scarf, a beach blanket, and in an emergency, a towel. A cloth tote bag can be the designated shoulder bag for the trip, then hold dirty laundry on the way home.

You can always buy necessities

Say you do forget or run out of something, keep in mind that most places sell necessities. This only works for folks who aren’t brand conscious. If you cannot live without a certain brand of product, bring travel-sized bottles or decant the products into small containers before your trip.

That said, don’t forget essentials

This includes proper papers and identification; prescription drugs; and doctor’s prescriptions just in case you’ll need to buy meds where you are, and other items that you, sometimes literally, cannot live without.

Embrace uncertainty

What keeps a lot of people from traveling light is the fear of uncertainty. If you run out of shirts to wear, for example, you can have your clothes laundered or wash them yourself. It helps to accept that you will never really be prepared for everything, and to realize that you are more resourceful than you think.

Got any other tips on how to travel light?