The vacation you’ve been planning and looking forward to for months is just around the corner, and you realize that you’ve forgotten about one, often hugely stressful, detail: packing. Packing can create anxiety in even the most seasoned travelers, particularly if your goal is to pack light (and it should be).
Packing light allows an ease of movement and possibility of spontaneity that is often impossible when you are laden with luggage. So how do you pack light and still make sure you will have everything you might need when you aren’t sure about every scenario you might encounter? The answer is: you can’t. If you are going to pack light for your trip, you need to let go of the notion that you can be prepared for every possible situation. However, just because you are taking a minimalist approach doesn’t mean you have to go without the things you need.
Here are a few tips that will help you devise a packing strategy to keep your bags compact and your options open.
Particularly if you are traveling abroad, you are going to need to have copies of certain documents handy like your passport number, prescriptions, itinerary and insurance card. So you’re not carrying all that sensitive information around and risking loss or theft, put copies in a private folder on the cloud, like Dropbox.
Clothing is where most people have the hardest time editing themselves. When choosing your clothing, think in terms of multi-use items. Pick a color palette and make sure each piece of clothing coordinates with several others. Pack light fabrics that can be layered rather than bulky sweaters or coats.
Don’t worry about having clean clothing and underwear for every day of your trip. Instead, utilize a laundry service or pack travel detergent and hand wash items as needed.
Two items that you should always pack are a bathing suit, because you never know when you’ll have the chance to swim, and an accessory that will make a plain outfit suitable for a fancy outing (for women, a pretty scarf or a statement necklace and a necktie for men).
Shoes take up a lot of space, so you need to make some tough choices when it comes to footwear. For women, a pair of flats, light sandals and athletic shoes should carry you through most scenarios. For men, pack athletic shoes and one other pair that would be appropriate for nighttime. If you are traveling during winter or need boots, wear your boots during transit to save space in your luggage.
If you are traveling for pleasure, probably the only electronic item you need is your smartphone. It can serve as a phone, camera, Internet connection, e-reader and video screen. Since you will be using it often, consider an option with long battery life like the Samsung Galaxy S7, which also has expandable storage and a powerful camera.
Be sure to pack both your charger and a portable charger for when you cannot find an outlet. Be sure to download plenty of entertainment (books, podcasts, movies) before you leave for the airport.
You probably need far fewer toiletries than you think. If you are staying in a hotel, you do not need to pack shampoo, conditioner, soap or a hair dryer. If you use makeup, choose only one choice of each type of cosmetic. And remember, if you leave anything behind, you will most likely be able to find it in your destination.