A Guide to Packing Light Without Sacrificing


The joke tends to be that when you’re at home, you might wear the same pair of sweatpants for three days, especially if you’re working remotely. Then, when it’s time to travel, you’re convinced you’re going to need four outfit changes a day. You end up over-packing, meaning it’s inconvenient, and you may find yourself paying for that extra luggage.

With airlines charging fees for luggage, there’s no time better than now to master the art of packing light.

At the same time, you want everything you’re going to need. Traveling means you might be doing all kinds of activities. You could go from hiking or boating during the day to going to a dinner show or theater production at night. You might head to a theme park in the morning, golf in the afternoon, and have a candlelit dinner at night.

With that in mind, the following are some tips to help you pack light but not feel like you’re going to be giving up the essentials.

Start Early

One of the best things you can do if your goal is to pack lighter but also smarter is to give yourself time.

Start at least three days before you’re traveling.

That way, you can start to lay things out, think about outfits and your itinerary, and, if necessary, begin to cut down on what you’re taking.

If you’re rushing, you’re more likely to not only overpack but also not bring what you really need.

Take More Tops Than Bottoms

When you take more tops than bottoms, you can mix and match more easily and have different outfits. Tops are lightweight, and they’re also easier to wash, including in the sink if you need to.

Bottoms are bulkier and harder to wash, so keep them to a minimum.

Even better than that, for some people might be taking one-piece outfits when you can. This is easiest in the summer or if you’re going somewhere warm. For example, sundresses are really easy to pack.

Limit Your Shoes

As hard as it is to resist, don’t take more than three pairs of shoes, and less if you can. You might want a casual pair of daytime shoes, comfortable walking shoes, and then a dressier shoe.

Wear your bulkiest shoe on your flight, if that makes sense for you.

In addition to wearing your heaviest shoes, be strategic overall with your travel day outfit. If you’re going to bring a jacket or a heavier sweater, wear them on the plane. If you’re bringing a pair of jeans, wear that on the plane as well.

Layer up because you’re putting fewer items in your bag, plus airports and planes can be chilly.

Use Organizers

Packing cubes, or better yet, compression packing cubes are a worthwhile investment. Packing cubes, beyond helping you save space, can also keep your clothes organized and will keep your items wrinkle-free.

You’ll also be able to pack and unpack faster.

With compression packing cubes, you’re getting the organization benefits, and you’re also smushing your clothes into smaller little packages.

Sometimes, you can reduce the volume of your clothes by around 30% with compression packing cubes.

You can still roll your clothes if you’re using organizers, or you can experiment and see if folding them flat will work better. Rolling does tend to be better from a wrinkle perspective.

Use Your Personal Item Carefully

If you’re flying to your destination, you can typically have a personal item in addition to your carry-on. If your aim is to use just your carry-on with no checked luggage, then you need to put your personal item to good use.

Rather than using a purse or something small, use a backpack. Then, you can also put packing cubes in it and fit as many items as you can.

You’re basically giving yourself two separate carry-ons.

Buy Toiletries When You Get To Your Destination

If it’s possible and wouldn’t be too inconvenient, you should buy your toiletries when you reach your destination. You can stop by a drug store on the way to your hotel from the airport or see if the hotel will provide them. You can even see if you can find them at your arrival airport, although you might pay a premium.

Bringing your own toiletries is going to take up precious space that you might not be able to afford to give up.

Finally, don’t start second-guessing yourself with the what-ifs. Be realistic about what you’re actually doing on your trip, and don’t go crazy trying to account for every possible scenario.

Written by Megan Taylor
Megan is a beauty expert who is passionate about all things makeup and glam! Her love for makeup has brought her to become a beauty pro at Glamour Garden Cosmetics.