Going on a trip can be a lot of fun, but many people have developed the nasty habit of over-packing. They’ll bring far too many clothes, far too many toiletries and way too many “things” that do little more than take up space and make for a less pleasant vacation or business trip.
When we went on our Las Vegas trip in December, Susanne and I shared a single carry-on luggage and we each had a small personal item. By contrast, I’ve seen people lug around giant full-size checked luggage on weekend trips, along with a carry-on luggage and a backpack. That’s way too much. You’ll be far happier when you can figure out how to pack less and to pack lighter.
For my part, it makes a lot of sense to pack clothes that can be used for a range of purposes. As an example, you don’t necessarily need to pack additional undershirts if you are already bringing along some comfortable t-shirts. These t-shirts can be worn on their own if it’s a little warmer or they can serve as undershirts if you want to put on another layer in cooler temperatures.
Similarly, a nice pair of jeans can easily be dressed up or dressed down to suit the occasion. Pair it with a collared shirt and you’re perfectly suited for a decent dinner. Wear it with a t-shirt or hoodie and you’ve got a more casual look. This way, you don’t have to pack nearly as much clothing.
It’s OK to Do Laundry
Of course, if you’re only going to be gone for a few days, it probably isn’t all that necessary to consider doing laundry. When we spent three weeks in Europe, however, we naturally had to do laundry a couple of times during that trip. By giving yourself the option of washing your clothes, rather than packing enough clean clothing for the whole trip, you lighten your load significantly.
Don’t Pack for Every Contingency
You might go hiking. You might encounter a little rain. You might need this or you might need that. The problem with packing for every possible scenario is that much of what you’re packing will never be used. Instead, pack what you know you’ll need and keep the concept of versatility in mind. If it rains, it’s cheap and easy enough to grab an umbrella (many hotels may even loan one to you). You can always rent sporting equipment if you choose to play a round of golf or go snorkeling.
Digital Is Your Friend
Thank goodness for the power of digital delivery. It used to be the case that you had to print out your paper tickets and hotel confirmation. You had to bring a physical book to read on the flight. You had to bring that bulky map book so you’d know your way around. This is no longer the case. Load up your smartphone or tablet with the documentation that you need (I saved some offline maps and basic map images to my phone prior to visiting France and Italy) and you’ll save a lot of space.
Thin, Small and Light
It’s important to consider not only the physical size of what you’re packing, but also the weight. Thin and lightweight clothing is a heck of a lot easier to carry around. The same can be said about your technological needs. I used to lug around a somewhat heavy Dell laptop with me on the road, but now I have a far slimmer and lighter Ultrabook for that purpose. To further minimize bulk, I’m far more likely to wear my hoodie or jacket on the plane than I am to put it in my luggage. Space is valuable!
Any More Travel Tips?
This list is in no way meant to be exhaustive, but it should give you a good start on how you can make for a more pleasant trip. You don’t need to bring along six pairs of shoes. You don’t need to have a giant bag of personal toiletries. Have a contingency fund available for any surprises, pack less stuff, and revel in the joys of carrying less luggage. The cat can probably stay home too.