A lifetime ago, I didn’t have the first clue how to pack light.
I was the kind of person who’d pack everything and the kitchen sink.
I was infamous for frequently bringing several pair of heeled shoes to school (TO SCHOOL!!) in case I’d suddently feel like wearing one of them. (hint: I never did. Not once.)
Thankfully, I’ve improved significantly since.
So much in fact that I can’t remember when was the last time I traveled with anything other than a carry-on.
It didn’t come easy but I did it. With loads of work and concious effort, I taught myself how to pack light.
And so can you!
Make a list
Packing in a hurry is never a good idea, so make sure you think ahead and compile a list of what you’d like to pack.
Get everything clean, dry and layed out before you start putting stuff in your suitcase. That’ll help you avoid dead space and make sure it’s all organised in a convenient manner.
No ‘what ifs’ and ‘just in case’
Repeat after me – (most of) the world is civilised and they have stores there. And 99% of the time, you’ll be able to purchase any and every emergency item you might need from one of the stores at your destination.
Versatility is key
There are many ways I’m not the Frenchest of French people, but when it comes to clothes, I’m the absolute French stereotype. My wardrobe is all basics in black, grey and stripes. Unsurprisingly, the whole ‘pick a colour scheme and stick with it’ thing isn’t a really difficult one for me to stick with.
Having helped a few other desperate souls to pack though*, I can confirm making sure most of your clothes work together is absolutely key to packing light and always have something to wear whilst on your trip.
*oh, how I wish I could pack other people’s suitcases for a living… #dreamjob
How much to pack?
It really depends on what sort of holiday you’re going on. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need a lot less if you’re on beach holiday than you will for a city trip and so on.
And quite a lot less than you think altogether. Most of the time, 1 pair of underwear per day, 1 top per day +2 and one pair of trousers for 4 day is more than enough. And if it’s not, there’s this great thing called laundry…
Oh, and pack a pashmina. There’s a reason why every single airline employee I know never go anywhere without one.
Cube it up!
I know a lot of people put all their weight behind the rolling and stuffing method, but I’m more of a packing cube girl.
I like how cubes help you save space AND keep things neat, tidy and unwrikled, which mean you’ll know exactly where to look whether you’re trying to locate your pyjamas, your charging cables or your bikini!
Plus, the impressed nod from the airport security staff if they need to check your luggage is just priceless. #truestory
Careful with the shoes!
Bulky, heavy and weirdly shaped, shoes are the #1 space waster when it comes to packing.Unfortunately, the only solution is to go by the age-old ‘less is more’ motto.
One pair of flip-flop (always), one pair of comfortable but pretty day shoes (I’m a ballerina girl through and through) and one pair of trainers/heels and you’re good to go!
And the toiletry / beauty stuff!
I’m the laziest person when it comes to beauty. The most I do is wash my hair, maybe put on some mascara and basta.
Therefore, I must admit that the likes of hair dryers and straighteners/curlers never found their way in my bathroom, let alone my suitcase.
Though, if it’s important to you, most hotels have hair dryers (you can call ahead to check if you so wish).
When it comes to beauty bits, samples are your best friends. Their small size means they won’t exceed the cabin size limitation, and you can leave the empty bottles behind so you have more room available for souvenirs!
To towel or not to towel?
Towels are bulky and annoying to pack.
The good news is, if you’re not going camping or to the beach, you probably don’t need to pack one.
But if you insist on taking your own anyway, make sure you get a fast-drying, super thin microfiber towel. You can thank me later.
Invest in a good international travel adaptor
By which I mean the kind with USB plugs so you don’t have to carry all the power supply things.
Pack a backpack/tote IN your carry-on
It’ll come in handy for your day-to-day adventures, be it to the beach, mountain climbing or getting lost in an urban jungle.
And possibly even more so if all the beautiful souvenirs you found don’t quite fit in your teeny tiny luggage on the way back…
Learn from your mistakes
Whether you forgot to pack something essential or you didn’t nail the right number of dresses to pack, make sure you make a -mental or physical- note of the things that didn’t quite work that time around.
After all, learning how to pack light, much like Rome, can’t really be done in one trip!
More travel tips
How to find the perfect travel companion
My 5 top tips to plan a city break