There are so many good reasons to pack light these days… easy to jump on and off local transport, don’t feel weighed down, safer than hauling around lots of bags, save time at airports and the big one, no airline baggage fees!

But, how to pack lightly? That’s the real questions…it’s actually not as hard as it sounds!

How to pack lightly
How to pack lightly

Here’s a few tips to help you pack light with precision

Here’s how to travel light by packing only what you need – and a few packing hacks to help lighten your suitcase!

1. Buy shampoo when you get there

There’s no risk of having to clean up after a leaky bottle disaster, no liquids in your hand luggage and it cuts down on weight. Take travel size screw top bottles with you so that it doesn’t matter if you buy flip top shampoo (always risky), plus you can re-fill the same bottles for years.

2. Take your mobile/cell phone

Okay, we know that you’re definitely taking your cell phone with. But…it also helps you to pack lightly as it can double as a camera, calculator, alarm clock and torch in one, even GPS and endless other app features.

3. Spend a little extra on your travel wardrobe

Buy the UV protection, non-wrinkle and breathable fabric – common in most outdoor clothing stores. The best thing about these clothes is that they are lightweight, look good for longer, so you can get away with less washing.

The ideal standard wardrobe is 2 pair of trousers with zip-off legs, 2 t-shirts and 2 collared travel shirts – all made from this material. Then depending on your destination add the layers, like a fleece and waterproof jacket.

Packing Merino wool clothes for travel are a great idea as they are lightweight and don’t need to be washed as often which means you don’t need to pack as much. Check out the options from Unbound Merino.

4. Shoes – take one good pair

Footwear take up a lot of space, so just take one comfortable pair that you can wear on the plane and use for all your sightseeing.

Softstar provide great shoes that take up very little space.

If you want to shoes to match your outfits, go for a neutral colour. The only other shoes you should then need are the lightweight and very practical sandals, thongs or flip-flops.

5. Download guidebooks and e-books

If you have a smart phone or iPad, download your guide book (or at least the chapters that you need), plus save city info, reviews, maps and other references so you can refer to it off-line. Also forget about lugging around 3 books of 600 pages each, store your favourite trilogy as an audio file that takes up no space at all. Or, if you prefer the written word, download your books on a Kindle.

6. Electrical cords – plan in advance

Check the power supply and electrical sockets for where you’ll be travelling. Then look at what devices you’ll be taking and see if you can cut down on cords by charging together eg charge your phone via your laptop. A lot of devices today run from kettle cords and you can get international kettle cords adapters or couplers.

Get this super nifty cord pouch (use the code DAYOWL10 for 10% off) to keep all your cords (chargers and adapters) neatly packed together. Bonus – this pouch is sustainably made from durable, recycled materials that create jobs around the world!

7. Clothes folding vs. rolling

Many travellers swear by the rolling method (and it’s a good one for carry-on bags and backpacks), but at the risk of starting an international debate, here’s another option to try: laying clothes flat. It will depend on the size of your bag, but if you don’t even fold your items (except for your trousers) some travellers will swear this is the most space-efficient method that leaves clothes relatively wrinkle-free.

The other option is to use packing cubes – many travelers swear by them as they help you keep your bag organized while on your travels.

8. Make a packing list and keep it for future trips

Keep a spreadsheet on your computer that you can refine over the years and list all the possible items you might need to take on an overseas trip. Next time it will only 10 minutes to pack because you have an expert list already prepared, plus you’re less likely to weigh yourself down at the last minute with unnecessary items. 

Looking for more practical packing advice? Check out these posts:


  • Travel Dudes

    I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.