No matter how often you travel, how many countries you backpack, what your purpose is, or where your journey takes you, finding more space in your suitcase is important. Instead of buying bigger suitcases so that you can take more things, it’s easier on your wallet and your back if you earn to pack lighter – ‘work smarter, not harder’.
Clothing, accessories, and shoes
One of the biggest sources of bulk is clothing. Even if you pack lightweight garments but take three outfits per day, you’ll have a very full suitcase.
- Multi-use items: Make sure every top matches every bottom, and can be interchanged. That way you won’t look like you’re wearing the same outfit every day of your trip. A travel capsule core is key – it consists of a few items that work in almost any climate, are neutral-colored, and can be accessorized to change it up.
- The little things: Adding a couple of scarves or statement necklaces adds very little weight and bulk to the suitcase but can dramatically change an outfit. You can wear the same pants and top for several days with accessories – plain one day, with a colorful scarf the second day, and a bright statement necklace the third day.
- Wash or re-wear: For longer trips, plan to do laundry. Two packets of laundry soap are a lot lighter than multiple outfits. Likewise, pick individual clothing that can be re-worn with little visible wear and tear.
- The power of two: With rare exception, you shouldn’t need more than two pairs of shoes. Wear your biggest and bulkiest onto the plane (black boots), and pack the slimmest and slightest (black ballet flats).
The other main category is toiletries. The infamous 3-1-1 bag changed how travelers packed, but it’s not impossible.
- Make a solid change: Trade your liquid shampoo and body lotion for solid versions. These solid alternatives usually last longer, will not leak, and don’t have to fit into the 3-1-1.
- Downsize: And I mean dramatically. For most trips, you don’t even need the travel-size bottles. Instead, decant your cleanser and moisturizer into the two halves of a contact lens case. Set this filled case next to the travel-size bottles and see the difference!
- Multi-use items: Same as with the clothing, multi-use items reduce the bulk and size of your toiletry kit. A nude pink makeup stick can serve as eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick instead of packing all three. A tinted moisturizer with SPF is another great all-in-one product!
- Go without: Consider taking a vacation from your regular regimen, and forgo the three hairstyling products, and the nine types of contouring powder. Give yourself a break from the routine!
If you are headed to an exotic destination, make sure to check out specific packing lists. So whether your itinerary includes finding things to do in Chicago or finding a beach chair under a palm tree, you can easily make it happen with just a carry-on suitcase with just a little planning!