Packing Light: 15 Tips From Travel Experts

Packing Light

“He who would travel happily, must travel light”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I didn’t always pack light. My first trip overseas I bought the biggest bag I thought I could manage and I packed everything I thought I would ever need, who knew Thailand had shampoo? Truth is, I was scared. I had no idea what to expect or what I would find. So, I packed everything, just in case. And those three little words “just in case”, are enough to make you upsize your bag and unzip the expandable section.


Looking back, on one hand I’m embarrassed, and on the other I get it. The unknown can lead you to do crazy things. Now we travel carry on only for most of our trips, and the benefits are great. No excess baggage fees, no chance of losing your luggage, more flexibility with plans, more options with transport, lightening your load by 10 – 20kg, and the list goes on.

Whether it’s your first time travelling, or you’re well travelled, packing light takes a little getting use too. So I asked 15 of my favourite Travel Blogggers, Minimalist Bloggers and Lifestyle Bloggers to give us their best tips for packing light.


Tips For Packing Light

Coco from Light by Coco

1. Roll your clothes 2. Bring half the stuff and twice as much money as you think you’ll need 3. Layering is your best friend

Alex Jimenez from Travel Fashion Girl

The main concept I explain on my site is the creation of a minimalist capsule travel wardrobe to help you pack light and efficiently. I also love packing cubes and use them as compression bags to ensure everything fits into a carry-on bag throughout my long term travels. Minimize your luggage and maximize your style!

Mike Richard from Vagabondish

Pack d​ark, breathable, lightweight, quick-drying clothing (think: Under Armor) in various sizes (short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, etc.). This is the simplest way to pare down your luggage to carry-on only. Because the clothing is easy to layer, you can travel indefinitely to almost anywhere with any climate and layer as necessary. It’s also easy to wash and dry, so you can pack very little clothing overall and simply wash as you go.

Aileen Xu from Lavendaire

Be minimal with your toiletries and products! I bring product samples and always transfer my shampoo, conditioner, and body wash into small travel sized squeeze bottles. I also like to bring multipurpose products such as coconut oil as a body lotion, leave-in hair conditioner, and makeup remover.

Norbert Figueroa from GloboTreks

One of my favorite tips is to layer everything.  Pack light pieces of clothing that you can layer one on top of the other, instead of carrying bulky jackets.  This not only helps you stay comfortable in most weather conditions, but also helps bring variety to your looks through different layer combinations.

Megan Jerrard from Mapping Megan

Packing TipsPack your bag and then take out half! As a general rule, you’ll never use everything that makes it into your bag, so I’ve found a really great way to go about packing is to throw in everything and then halve it!

Clint Johnston from TripHackr

My number one tip for packing light is the versatility of my clothing. Wearing boots that can be worn on an adventure as well as out to dinner are a great way to save space. Also, I like merino wool shirts and socks from Icebreaker or Smart Wool. You can wear these in the heat or the snow over and over again before they really need a wash. Versatility is key when I’m packing light.

Doug Dyment, Travel Speaker and Author From OneBag.com

Of all the “travel light” tips one might accumulate, perhaps the simplest, most easily addressed issue that is capable of dramatically lightening your load is that of travel with liquids.

It would be difficult to choose worse items to pack than packaged liquids (and gels, and aerosols). They are inordinately heavy, bulky, prone to leakage (especially on airplanes), and of concern to security. And with but a little forethought, the vast majority of liquids can be eliminated entirely. From shampoo/conditioner to toothpaste, from sunscreen to insect repellent, from facial cleanser, foundation, and moisturizer to mascara, bronzer, and face mask, even exfoliants and perfumes, all come in solid versions that will save you weight, space, hassle, and the environmental cost of excess packaging.

Johnny From Johnny Jet

Wear all of your heavy/bulky clothes on the plane and get a Scottevest as it acts like a third carryon.

Audrey Bergner from That Backpacker

Go light on the toiletries! One of the easiest ways to end up with a heavy backpack is by packing toiletries that you likely won’t even need. Think about where you’re going to be staying when you travel. If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s likely they’ll have complimentary soap, shampoo and conditioner. If you’re staying at a hostel, that may not be the case, but it might be easier to just purchase your toiletries when you get there. And if you really can’t live without your favourite brand of shampoo, consider buying travel-sized bottles to last you the length of your trip.

Eat Well, Pack Light, Travel Often

Will Tang From Going Awesome Places

My number one packing tip is definitely pack light. It’s taken me awhile to really practice what I preach but it’s true, packing heavy just isn’t fun. When you’re on the road, you begin to realize that you really don’t need to bring everything from home with you. You’re not going to be judged for your fashion so leave the fancy clothes behind. When I’m traveling I’m all about bringing versatile gear and clothing – things that can be used in multiple scenarios. Think casual shorts that can also act as swim trunks or a Buff that you can tie your hair with or use for your neck to keep you warm. This way you can cut down on the amount of clothes you bring and then be able to fit things in a much smaller bag. What happens when you run out of clothes?  Well the great thing about most versatile clothes is that they are easy to hand wash and dry. Hand washing your clothes is incredibly easy to do. By packing light you’ll be much more mobile on the go and your shoulders will thank you.

Julie Falconer From A Lady In London

Rolling clothes really helps save space. The more you can roll, the more room you will save.

Shaun Robertson From This Life In Trips

I usually take what I think I need and cut it in half. Rarely do I wear all the clothes I bring on a trip. I also typically do carry on only which forces me to pack light.

Matt Long From Land Lopers

I’m actually a horrible packer, although I’m trying to get better. One thing I do is make good use of Zip-Loc bags, especially for socks and undergarments. It’s a great and easy way to compartmentalize everything and save space at the same time.

Jenny Krones from Till The Money Runs Out

Tom and I have been traveling with carry-on luggage for the past 4 years, and the one thing I have always really missed having is a yoga mat. I like to practice 4-5 times a week, but had not found a “travel” yoga mat that was actually small enough for my bag. Just recently I discovered “Yoga Paws“, mini mats for your hands and feet that are incredibly small. When they are packed they are about the size of a couple of small pairs of socks.

Erin McNeaney from Never Ending Voyage

Don’t take anything “just in case”. Everything needs to earn its place in your bag by being used regularly. Taking hiking boots because you might go on a hike when you are spending most of your time in cities is not a good idea. You don’t need a jacket if you are spending the first three months of your trip in sunny Southeast Asia. Snorkelling gear? Rent it there.
Outdoor shops are dangerous for sucking you in and making you think you need things you really don’t—a huge first aid kit, sleeping bag, mosquito net. You don’t need them.

A huge thank you to all the bloggers who contributed!

What’s your best tips for packing light?

We would love to know in the comments below…

24 Comments

  • Flora says:

    I take only three pairs of microfibre undies. Washed with body wash in the shower each night, squeezed really tightly with a towel they are usually able to be worn the next day.

  • Nancy says:

    My most versatile piece is a large-ish sarong. I use it as a beach cover-up, dress (around the house), nightie, skirt, scarf, blanket (on plane or somewhere with high A/C). Awesome!

  • Hege says:

    My favourite way to bring cream, coundation and other liguids such as, is using the double container that is meant for contact lences. I fill a difftrent number of them, depending on how long I will be gone. I mark them, and can easily find the one I want. They come in various colors, and even keep bacterias away. Thanks for a great blog!

  • Diane Lee says:

    After each trip, I review my packing list when I get home and eliminate the items I didn’t use, or only used once or twice. I’ve been able to pack lighter and lighter each time I travel using this method.

  • Alexa says:

    My best tip is to take clothes you actually like wearing. There is nothing worse than spending money on expensive “travel” clothes and then getting there and realizing you would have been fine with your normal clothes you feel and look good in.

    • Thats so true Alexa! I think it’s really important to pack comfortable clothes and a few nicer options. I find packing clothes that you can easily mix and match, that you’re happy to wear most days the best. I think another trap along the same lines is, it’s easy to think just because it’s holiday, you suddenly need a new outfit every single day. But when you think about what you wear normally, we mix and match items, and wear the same outfits more than once.

  • Brooke says:

    You can never go wrong with packing half the clothes and twice the money! Layers is also a fantastic idea, and wearing your bulkiest clothing on the plane is a great idea as well. In terms of toiletries, I’m also looking into dry shampoo and shampoo bars from lush since they are small, convenient, and don’t take up a lot of room. There’s sample sizes of toiletries all the time!

    • Hi Brooke, Lots of great tips! I was going to try the lush shampoo bars on my travels last year, but wanted to test them out before I went away and left it too late. I’d love to know how you find them if you end up trying them!

  • alex says:

    Thanks for featuring my tips! Great roundup!

  • Georgina says:

    My best tip; have one really good pair of jeans, they should be able to be dressed up for a nice dinner out but also able to be dressed down for casual sightseeing.
    Also jeans can last for ages without needing washing.

  • Peggy says:

    i frequently travel to the same places, when I can, I leave clothing there. This works well when I visit my children. Leaves room in my carry on for grandchildren gifts.

    • Thats a great tip, I know a lot of hotels will keep long term storage items if you are returning and don’t have a place to keep it yourself. I always like to leave room for my niece’s gifts too :)

  • Hayley says:

    Oh my god I am so struggling with this at the moment! Thanks for the tips. Hopefully it can inpire me to really be ruthless next time I pack up!

  • A great list of tips, thanks for including us in this fantastic round-up!

  • Thanks for including my tip. Great list!

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