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What Are Your Best Tips for Packing Light?

Travelers – budget travelers, backpackers and luxury travelers alike – all know the importance of packing light. If there was any doubt, the airlines have drilled the idea into our heads with their exorbitant and punitive luggage fees. So we all know that we should be packing as light as possible, but there’s a big leap from knowing what we should do, to actually learning the methods to do it.

Like many travelers I lay out my travel clothing, every last pair of heels, skirt, workout top or sweatshirt I want to take on my trip, and then begin to whittle down the pile. But at the end of what I think is a merciless cutting session, I’m often still left with too much stuff.

Even if I can cram it all into my carry-on (because I stubbornly refuse to check a bag), I’m often left with a bag so heavy I doubt my ability to carry it more than a few yards on even terrain – let alone while running full tilt to catch a plane or while trekking up a steep hill to my hostel. And so I cut again, and end up on a trip missing at least one vital item that I impulsively removed from my bag. Over the years, I’ve learned there’s a fine line between packing light and being unprepared.

One of the most common tips from budget travelers is to “pack light” but the methodology is as varied as each individual traveler.

Some people rely on washing their clothes while on a trip while others swear by a certain type of travel bag. Some travelers make every item do double or triple duty (scarves double as sarongs, light sweaters are layered on cold night) and others have fine-tuned a wardrobe based on a single color scheme. It seems everyone has their own system. So we’d like to know, when it comes to only carrying what you absolutely need, what are your best tips for packing light?

Photo by muninn