Travel Travel Tips

Top 6 Travel Tips: Pack Light

Suitcase is screaming, bursting at the seams and I can barely heave it down the stairs… and I haven’t even made it out the front door of my house yet!

Tip Number 5 – Pack light.

After twenty-five years of travelling, you’d think I would have it worked by now. Sadly, no. I look at fellow travellers with their small Mary Poppins-style bags and wonder how do they do it?? My husband stands over my shoulder as I am preparing for a trip and asks “where’s it all going?” I try to explain my strategy…

Step 1: Put everything around the suitcase.

Step 2: Sort into piles, e.g. shirts, trousers, underwear, something nice…

Step 3: Put aforementioned piles into the case.

Step 4: Pull half of those piles back out of the case.

Step 5: Walk away and come back again the night before you are due to leave and pull even more out, then throw half of it back in just in case.

Step 6: Heave bursting, over-stuffed suitcase down the front stairs and into the waiting taxi to the airport and then struggle with having no room to squeeze even a solo fridge magnet into in for duration of the trip.

OK, so the strategy needs some work. I think my downfall is all the “just in case” items – in case it’s cold, in case it’s hot, in case it rains, in case I get blisters in those shoes and need other walking shoes, in case we go to a nice restaurant, in case I meet George Clooney sailing along Lake Como… not practical really.

I have proven to myself that I actually can pack light if I have to. I managed two weeks around Kenya with 11kg including souvenir shopping. There was a lot of recycling of clothing, a lot of beige and only three pairs of shoes on that trip, but I proved to myself that it can be done. Japan, however, was a complete packing fail and I contemplated abandoning clothing to make room  for tea cups and Japanese dolls…

How much do we really need to take with us on a holiday? How many days in a row can you wear something without washing it? What’s acceptable?

I’ve been doing some reading on the topic (as well as stalking other travellers to see what they have in their bags) and I’ve come up with the following clothing packing list. I’m road-testing it next month when I go to Mexico so we’ll see if it works!

  • 3-5 shirts (mixture of short and long sleeves)
  • 2-3 pairs of trousers (mixture of shorts, skirts, long pants)
  • For girls, maybe a light dress instead of one of the tops and trousers.
  • Lightweight jacket (wind and rainproof, preferably with a hood)
  • Dark jumper (fleece or cardigan)
  • Scarf (or a tie for a bloke)
  • 5 sets of underwear and socks (lightweight for quick drying)
  • Swimsuit
  • Sleepwear / comfy clothes (leggings or tracksuit pants that can double as pyjamas)
  • 2 pairs of shoes (comfy walking shoes and a pair of sandals or slip-on shoes

We all know why we should travel light – easier to get on and off trains/buses/taxis; easier to navigate cobblestone streets/narrow stairwells/busy stations; more space to put any local bargains or treasures that you pick up along the way. Also, keep in mind that many regional airlines within Europe, Australia and North America now charge for any checked bags (even if you are travelling on an international ticket) so travelling lighter can save you money as well.


My children with their luggage for three weeks in Europe… maybe I should pack more like them!!

Let me know your packing tips and how you travel light… clearly I need some advice as well!

Safe travels,

x Sonia 

One comment

  1. For ladies, depending on where you’re travelling, I think it helps to pick a colour scheme and stick with that so that everything is as mix and match as possible. Example: navy, tan, white and red as a feature. Neutrals always go well together and red scarf or earrings or jacket will always photograph well. Don’t pack anything that you can ‘only wear that top with that skirt’.


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