If you are an experienced traveler, you know how crucial it is to travel light. Airlines have come up with stringent luggage restrictions and many times you have to pay even for one checked-in bag. If you have excess weight or one extra suitcase, it means dolling out hefty charges for your luggage. Lighter bags not only save money, but makes it easier to get around, saves you a lot of backaches, and leaves the contents of your bags more organized.
However, it is not easy to pack light and give up on things you ‘feel’ you might need on your trip. Most of us are prone to over-packing and would over-stuff our bags in an attempt to pack the right outfits for every foreseeable occasion. But a crammed suitcase can be confusing and extremely frustrating, so one has to be practical while packing. Do not give in to the temptation to fill your bags with items that are not necessary, even if it means leaving behind your favorite outfits. Packing is never easy, but let us list down a few packing hacks to reduce your luggage weight and make your bags more manageable in every possible way.
Choose the Right Bag
Before starting your packing, check the weight of your bags. Sometimes, it is not the content but the bag that is the main culprit. Discard your old, heavy bags and invest in sturdy, durable, and lightweight bags. Nowadays, bags come with compression straps, expandable sides, heavy-duty zippers, extra sections, 360-degree wheels and are still considerably lighter than the old suitcases. Since every pound count, a light bag will give you more space to pack your things besides being easier to wheel around everywhere. Make sure that your carry-on baggage complies with the airline baggage specifications so that you don’t end up paying extra during check-in. Whatever may be your preference – a light duffel bag or a lightweight suitcase – make sure that it is not adding unnecessary bulk to your luggage.
Pack only Necessary Toiletries
Heavy makeup products and toiletries can really add to the weight of your suitcase, so keep a check on them. You can always use the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and moisturizer provided by the hotel or buy what you need when you reach your destination. If you are particular about the products you use, find sample size mini-versions of your favorite toiletries, sunscreen, and beauty/skin products. Another option is packing your products into small travel-size plastic bottles that can hold up to 3.4 ounces. Keep them in a handy pouch in your hand baggage. This way it would be easily accessible, be much safer, and leave precious space in your checked-in baggage. Chuck the big pouches/boxes and pack medicines, wipes, cotton swabs, clips, etc. in small zipped pouches.
Pack around one Neutral Color
Choose one basic color palette like black, grey, navy blue, or khaki, and pack clothes around that color. Stick to a color scheme and take outfits that can be mixed, matched, and layered with each other. Tops, bottoms, accessories, shoes must be versatile and color-coordinated. If you like to wear colorful and patterned clothes, make sure that it complements that neutral shade. Packing separate outfits for every occasion will definitely end in over-packing. So, pick clothes that go with at least 2-3 other items in your bag. Use eye-catching scarves, belts, jewelry, etc. to add a pop of color and zing to your attire. If you do it well, you can easily manage to put together a different look for every day of your vacation.
Choose Lightweight Clothes
Try avoiding items that are bulky like jeans, leather coats, long jackets, knee-length boots, etc. Go for khakis, down feather jackets, thermals, light sweaters, clogs, etc. – they are light and would keep your luggage within weight restrictions. Instead of heavy coats and jackets, carry light clothing that can be layered according to the weather conditions. If you must carry weighty stuff like a coat and boots, the best option is to wear them on the plane. It can be awkward and cramped, especially if you are traveling between two different climates. However, such items take lots of space in your suitcases and make them very heavy. So, wearing them is the best option and if you get uncomfortable, you can always remove the extra layers. The big pockets of coats can come in handy for stuffing portable chargers, food items, heavy jewelry, and even small books.
Pack limited Footwear
Footwear can take lots of space in your luggage and add pounds to the bag. Pack lightweight and comfortable shoes and try to restrict the number of shoes that you carry. If you are traveling to a warm place, one pair of flip-flops, one dressy footwear, and one pair of comfortable walking shoes should suffice. If the weather demands heavy boots/shoes, the best option is to wear them on flights. Stuff socks, chargers, and jewelry inside your shoes to retain their shape in the cramped bags. Always place shoes in the bottom of your bag near the wheels, so that weight is evenly distributed.
Pack According to the Itinerary
Finalize your travel plans and pack clothes according to them. Check the weather of every place that is on your itinerary. Make a list of all activities planned, places to visit, events/formal dinners to attend, etc. This will give you a clear picture of the type of clothing required during your trip. Decide if you need Gym clothes, a swimsuit, a formal jacket, a long dress, or running shoes? If you pack your bags keeping your travel itinerary in mind, it will benefit you in two ways – you will not forget essential items and you will not pack any extras. Don’t keep adding things in your bags for ‘just in case’.
Plan to do Laundry
Carry some laundry soap with you and wash a few clothes in the hotel sink. Fast-drying clothes and UG’s can be easily washed and dried in the hotel room. Some hotels and Airbnb’s have a laundry machine installed and you can do the laundry there. Most cities have a Launderette where you have the option to use machines to wash and dry all your clothes after paying some nominal charges. They prove to be very useful, especially if you plan to travel for a long period of time. If you want to reduce the weight of your luggage, why not wash a few essential clothes for shorter trips also?
Books are man’s best friend, but they can be cumbersome when you are traveling. The best alternative is to download your reading material, travel guides, apps, etc. on a computer or tablet. You may need printed copies of some documents; the rest of the travel documents can be stored on your gadgets. Email yourself all the important documents, so that you can easily access them from anywhere. Try to restrict yourself to one gadget – either a laptop or tablet. If you can manage with just your smartphone, all the better. Multiple gadgets not only increase the load but are a hassle during long security lines at the airport.
Check with the Hotel
You can call the hotel or check the hotel’s website to find out the amenities provided in the hotel. Most decent hotels provide a hairdryer, iron, umbrella, beachtowels, and similar stuff. These items are heavy and best avoided.
If you have a tip that will help to reduce luggage weight, I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.
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