11 tips to pack light for every trip

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.

11 tips to pack light for every trip ● Travel Tips ● Cake + Whisky

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

11 tips to pack light for every trip ● Travel Tips ● Cake + Whisky

  • 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.

11 tips to pack light for every trip ● Travel Tips ● Cake + Whisky

  • 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

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My 5 top tips to plan a city break

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Paris for first-timers and seasoned travelers

11 tips to pack light for every trip

My top packing tips (+ what I packed for 2 weeks in the US!)

I used to be that girl who carried suitcases bigger than me. Not that it’s a difficult thing to do since I’m so tiny, but still. I would carry 3 pairs of shoes everywhere (yes, even to school!), and about a billion other things along with it.

But it didn’t take me long to realise that carrying such big bags wasn’t really good for my back. And for what? Most of the time, I didn’t even used half of what I packed.

I’ve tried ever since to change my approach and turn into a minimalistic packer. Here are the top tips I’ve gathered along the way:

1. Pack just one or two pairs of trousers: I know it sounds crazy, but you hardly need more. I’m not a dress-and-skirt sort of girl, so I usually bring two pairs along (one in my suitcase and the other one, I wear on the plane).

2. Favour basic cuts and colours so you can mix-and-match easily: This one’s actually quite easy for me to implement since I hardly ever wear anything but black, navy, grey, white and nude pink. We all have a few colours we especially enjoy wearing: focus on those when packing, it’ll make your life easier!

3. Plan your outfits in advance: I try to plan about 2 outfits for every 3 days I’m going away and this really helps me not to overpack.Cake + Whisky | Travel | Packing tipsThis is more or less what I’ve packed for 2 weeks: one pair of black skinny jeans (which go with everything!🙌), one pair of denim shorts, 6 tops (basically all my favourites: a navy silk cami, a nude silk cami, the perfect black V neck T-shirt, this adorable striped/colourblock top I just bought, a scalloped black top (mine’s from Primark) and the cutest printed blouse), one thin grey cardigan, one Breton stripped shirt and a blazer.
It doesn’t look like much, but add to that underwear, pyjamas, a (very full) toiletry bag, tones of camera equipment and other knick-knacks and you’ll already have a fairly full bag (and I’d rather keep some room inthere to bring back all the peanut-buttery things I’ll be able to put my hands on!

4. Layer up for the flight!
Not only does it make you save up space in your suitcase, but it’ll also help you survive your flight without getting a cold! Cake + Whisky | Travel | Packing tipsI personally find jeans very comfortable (plus they’re amongst the bulkiest items!) so I’ll almost always wear those when I travel. I like to pick shoes that are easy to take off (it makes passing security checks that little bit easier!) but I will be packing a pair of warm socks in my hand luggage for the flight (because COLD!). A big scarf is an absolute must-have to win the battle against freezingly cold AC and if I’m going to wear a quite thin waterfall cardigan to travel, I’ll also carry a big hoodie.

5. Pack things that crease inbetween layers of dry-cleaning bags’ plastic: this helps to reduce friction, and ultimately, creases.

6. Pack your underwear in a washing bag: Two reasons: 1. it makes it much easier to find in your suitcase 2. if for some reason your bag was controlled by airport security, they would only touch the bag and not your underwear.

7. Don’t pack too many shoes: I know it’s tempting but from my experience, you never actually wear them all. I’m only bringing my beloved Repetto ballerinas this time, hopefully it will work out (otherwise, I suppose I’ll just have to go shopping 😜)!

What are your top tips to avoid overpacking? I’m still a minimalist packer newbie so would love to hear them! 

My top packing tips (+ what I packed for 2 weeks in the US!)