travel tips: packing light

travel tips: packing light
hello! okay…today is the first post of many to come:
well traveled-wife travel tips for packing light..

today we’re talking about packing! I’m definitely no expert, but I’ve travelled enough that I have some good tips… like using heavy duty clear backpacks instead of stuffing all my essentials in my suitcase and it being such an effort to look through my suitcase just for a face mask or my charger. It would just save a lot of time when it comes to packing and it’ll mean you won’t be dragging a heavy suitcase around, which can be very annoying. Speaking of packing, when I start packing for a holiday, it always reminds me of the time I moved house and the whole process of putting things into boxes and trying to remember where I had put everything was very stressful, especially when it came to transporting the items. I did the best I could, but thinking back at it, I know I could have done this a lot differently. As I was recommended to visit, if you are moving house soon and don’t want to struggle like me, this may be something worth looking into, in order to help you find the best company to make the moving process a lot easier. Packing anything just takes me back to this memory, but I think that’s another reason as to why I have gotten a lot better when it comes to packing for trips.

i hope you’ll comment with yours, so that these posts can turn into one big resource for fellow travel lovers! i’ve had some recent emails asking about tips for packing, so today we are talking about my travel tips for packing…
and more specifically, packing L I G H T.

“he who would travel happily must travel light.”
-antoine de saint-exupéry

overpacking is one of the worst travel mistakes in my book!!
i pride myself on being able to pack light, & my bag always weighs the least..
of course there are those trips where you are going to stay in one place for a week and have transportation set up from the airport to the hotel with free checking so packing light is not as important, but with the majority of my trips, it is a huge benefit to pack light. i have traveled with lots of friends who bring about 5 times more than they need, and now even they can see the benefits of packing light :) here are a few reasons packing light is the way to go:
1. $ it saves money.
airlines love to charge you fees when you get to the airport to check your bags!
packing a small carry-on allows you to save money in so many ways. you don’t
have to pay checked baggage fees, you don’t have to tip people for carrying your luggage in,
it’s easier to take the subway/metro system because you can carry everything, etc. You also might be interested in some Custom Passport Holders which could make it easier for you when you’re travel since you don’t have to route around for your passport and you’ll have it ready to go.
2. it’s safer.
if you only have a small bag that you can keep with you while traveling, luggage is so much less
likely to get damaged, lost, or stolen! just keep it simple! traveling light is simply more
stress free to me, and it helps me cut out some of the hassle of traveling. the only downside
is lifting your carry-on into the overhead bins..sometime i have to get help with that! :)
3. it makes travel easier.
you can be so much more flexible and get around easier by packing light! having less things
means you have so many more options for where to go, and what to do. you don’t have to wait
around to get your checked luggage when you arrive can just get off the plane/ train and GO! in europe and other big cities in the US, sometimes i just bring a backpack, roll everything up tight, and take that! this makes it so we don’t have to worry about having a hotel hold our luggage or check out late. if you have everything with you, you can see more things, be flexible about the hotels you stay in, and not be weighed down! you can be spontaneous, because everything you need is with you! best feeling ever.

**when husband and i first went to NYC together, we took the train from washington DC for a weekend in the city. i flew into DC and we were packing the morning we were leaving…it was winter, so i had warm black leggings and hunter boots, and then just 2 different skirts and tops to wear over the leggings, plus toiletries and a coat. i wore the bulkiest items on the train, rolled everything else up into a backpack, and was ready in 10 minutes. i looked over at husband {who i was only dating at the time} and knew i had a lot to teach him..ha! he had a big duffel bag, 3 different pairs of shoes, belts, 2 coat options, etc. don’t get me wrong–i love to dress nice while traveling, but you can do it while keeping it simple! even though our train was leaving soon, i made him cut down his luggage to half the things and put it in another backpack. he thought i was crazy, but with the amount of walking and switching apartments we were staying at that weekend, we were so glad we had everything we needed in a portable backpack. now he knows to always pack light with me! :)…

and, if you pack light, you have more room to shop/get souvenirs and bring them back!
<< traveling light is almost always the best way to go. unless you're a celebrity who has people in tow to pack and carry everything, it's worth it to pack light. you know what you have and where everything is, you don't have to drag huge bags through airports and trains, and you have exactly what you need-nothing more or less. simplify, simplify. traveling is much better when you can focus on the place you are, and not all of your luggage!! last but not least, traveling light not only benefits you, but the environment too! double win. >>

so now that i’ve convinced you why to pack
here are some tips for how..

  • make a list. even if it’s a weekend trip, just write the basics down, then check them off. it’s foolproof and organized. plus, lists are fun!
  • be reasonable, but don’t skimp too much. you want to have options, but not extras. bring neutral shoes that go with multiple outfits, and bring pants and tops you can mix & match to create different looks creating the same clothes. (ex: i usually bring a top or dress that i can dress up & wear out at night, but also wear as a beach cover-up the next day. saves room and has a completely different look!)
  • roll your clothes instead of folding. this helps them wrinkle less and saves room.
  • don’t bring too many accessories, but remember to pack a few statement items like a big belt, hat, scarf, or pretty earrings. these will help you feel dressed up without taking too much space.
  • don’t bring too many shoes, a hair dryer, gadgets, or jewelry. simplify!

now, for a few more detail tips:

..starting with toiletries..
for years i used two different toiletry/makeup bags for everything. they worked, but
in every hotel they always took up counter space and it was so hard to find one specific thing because i threw everything in there. when we were in europe with my in-laws, husband’s mom had the nicest hanging toiletry organizer. i had seen these, but hers was so cute and when i saw it that trip i knew i needed one! it unfolds easily and hangs on the back of a door or hook, and you can see where everything is. so nice! i recommend this for sure.
so that i don’t have to check bags, i have my face wash in a small bottle,
as well as everything else travel size. i’ve heard that Mary Kay products withstand the test of time,
so I may try cramming those into travel bottle if possible. at home i use liquid eye makeup remover,
but on trips i live off the neutrogena makeup removing wipes. you can
use them on your eyes and face, and that’s that! so easy while traveling.
also, i use empty mini bottles that i already have, and fill them with lotion,
face wash and other things i need. no need to go buy travel size of lots of things..
just find empty mini shampoo bottles you have, rinse them and fill up!
be sure to label them with a permanent marker so you don’t mix them up :)
husband’s other tip here is to take the mini shampoos and conditioners when
you stay in hotels, so that you’re stocked up on them for other trips! for packing clothes..
the biggest thing i’ve learned is to ROLL your clothes in your suitcase! it may seem better to fold them, but TRUST me. after lots and lots of trips, folding is the way to go. clothes fit much better when rolled instead of laying flat. plus, they wrinkle less when they are tightly rolled! i roll everything up and then make the most of the space when you are packing them in. make it a game…think tetris! :)

plan ahead.

i used to be so bad at this, and packing would stress me out. now, if i’m really on top of it, i can plan out my
outfits for each day of the trip according to our plans, and i can pack them all in together and have exactly
what i need. it sounds overwhelming, but it’s SO nice. when i’m lazy, i just throw a bunch of clothes in a bag and
then pair things into outfits on the trip. without fail i forget something, or bring way too many options.
for our last paris trip, i changed this.
i pulled a bunch of clothes from my closet, then looked through the itinerary of our 9 day trip and used it
to pick outfits for each day, packing them together so i would remember. i took probably half of the clothes
out of my suitcase after this, because when i planned according to days, i realized i wouldn’t need half the things!
it was amazing. i literally wore every item in my suitcase..that should be the goal! nothing more, and nothing less.
if you pick clothes that can mix & match, you can save even more space by wearing the same pants with two
really different tops so that it changes the outfit, but you don’t need another item. same goes for shoes..
bring neutral shoes that will work with all your outfits so you don’t have to worry!

check the weather.

weather can change how you pack, so check it! if it’s going to be cold, dress in lots of layers and wear coats/ boots on the plane so you save space in your suitcase. if you are going for longer than a week and want to carry on, just be prepared to wear certain pants/ shirts more than once on the trip…or plan to do laundry! i also always bring a light raincoat and lay it in the bottom of my bag. it hardly takes up space, and it is something that is always good to have on hand!
–make sure to pack a few plastic sacks to put dirty laundry in–
i hate when i have dirty clothes and have to repack them with all my clean clothes! bring some plastic bags in your suitcase, and when you’re traveling just put the dirty clothes rolled in the bag, so that you can take it out and wash it when you get home! i do the same for shoes, so that my clothes don’t touch the bottom of my shoes. it’s simple, but so nice. pack shoes with opposite ends touching, so they fit better! if you have a front pocket on your luggage, slip the shoes in there. you can also fill your shoes with socks//undies, since they are taking up space might as well fill them up!

i know that sometimes it is just necessary or way more convenient to check luggage. in this case, still pack what you need in your carry-on – in the case that your luggage gets lost, at least you’ll still have your mascara, toothbrush and a change of clothes in your carry-on, so you aren’t stuck!
**don’t forget to pack other essentials.. ibuprofen/aspirin in case you get a headache or don’t feel good. bring band-aids, tums, nail clippers, a nail file, socks, toothbrush, deodorant, contacts + contact solution, reading material etc. i didn’t bring these kinds of things until i’ve gotten stuck needing them in different airports and situations, and had to go find pharmacies or pay way more at airports! also- keep your phone charger in your purse or carry on so you have it!**
and lastly, pack food and snacks! i don’t know why i always get starving on airplanes and trips…
make sure you prepare by having snacks // food packed in your purse or carry-on that you can get to!
what are your best packing tips?
do share!!

ps..always pack the pretty things last!


24 thoughts on “travel tips: packing light”

  • Great tips! I always pack light (sometimes too light haha). I roll my clothes, too. I also have no problem with wearing outfits multiple times. People often underestimate how many times they can wear an item of clothing before it’s “dirty.” I wear my shirts like 3 times at least before they need to be washed!

    • i’m the same way! glad i’m not the only one who will wear clothes a few times before washing, haha. and i’s good to pack light, but important to not pack too light! :)

  • these are all great! because Jae works for the airlines, we don’t ever have to worry about paying to check luggage, but every trip we try to pack it all in a carry-on anyway, so we just don’t have to worry about checking anything and we have everything with us on the plane. it’s just easier! (especially when flying standby!) and yes – the rolling of clothes is the best idea ever. good call. i’ve also learned to stuff smaller things into my shoes if need be. i mean come on, it’s just wasted space! ;)

    • jae works for the airlines? that is AMAZING. my dream benefit= free flights!!
      that is true though, flying standby means it’s way more convenient to just have your bags with you! LOVE the shoe tip- chase does that always and it’s so smart! i am emailing you back in one second! XO

  • I’m going to have to reference this next trip! I always, always pack way more than needed. It really hit me this last trip when I was unpacking; over half of the clothes I packed weren’t even touched! Especially all the miscellaneous items I just chuck in my suitcase “just in case”.

    An extra tip I suggest, fly Southwest! We’ve been flying with them the past year or two and they are so much cheaper and bags fly free! The flight/airplane isn’t as nice but it’s really not too bad considering all the money saved.

    Thanks Em! :)

  • Sling bags are one-strap packs that are easy to carry, stylish and firmly strapped to the body for security. Teens and young adults in particular enjoy using sling bags for outdoor activities, carrying books to school and carrying personal items to work or social events.BAGedge BE014

  • Well there are certain things you should keep in mind while going on a trip. A very part of a trip consists of the bag packing. You should be very careful while packing for a trip. A lot depends on how you have packed your bag for the trip. Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts and sports shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.Take two or more garments, for example trousers, and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it on the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you’ve folded it so it’s less likely to crease or wrinkle in the folds. Get more tips at :

  • I am going to Europe for the first time in a few months… the packing is already stressing me. I am so glad I found this on your blog, I am going to be following these tips for sure. I have a random question for you – what are your favorite shoes to wear while traveling? Something comfortable, cute and you can walk in. I love me some Nike’s but am afraid that will look silly… any tips on shoes?? I would love your advice!

    • that is so exciting!! yay! you will fall in love with it. i hope these tips help! as for shoes…that can be tough! i always have rainbow flip flops in my bag, light running shoes, and then a pair of my most comfortable flats. my latest favorite pair is just an old one from H&M, but so comfy for some reason. i’ve had them forever and they are still in great shape, and they are neutral tan with a gold dipped toe so they go with everything…so when i go places like europe and need to pack light, i normally bring those and then have the other shoes to switch out if my feet start hurting! portovelo worked with us and also has some cute comfy shoes if you like their style! email me any other questions! XO

  • HI,

    Here is another travel gadget that you might find helpful.

    You won’t need to carry travel hangers.

    Google: ConvertAHanger

    It is a hook that attaches to the hotel hangers that only have a post. It also works with the 5/8″ hangers used on cruise ships and internationally.

    You can now steam your clothes and take care of your hand washables.

    I hope you find this helpful.


  • Checking the weather is the most important thing. Five years ago I visited San Diego and it was raining during all my vacation. It was really bad experience. Thank you for sharing such an interesting article! Your tips are useful ! Best regards!

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