Luggage. It’s the biggest thing that you can control to make travelling more enjoyable. No-one ever comes back from a trip claiming that they “wished they’d taken more stuff”. So how do you travel light? What’s the secret?
As philosophical as it sounds, packing is more a state of mind. It’s all about being ruthless. If you are ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ about an item then I can tell you now, don’t take it.
Why should I pack light? Well, whatever mode of transport you are taking it’s always more enjoyable if you have less luggage. Also, if you can keep your gear with you at all times it reduces the risks of loss, theft or damage. As well as security, packing light can make travelling cheaper. Many airlines charge for check in baggage and if you are hiring a caryou can get a smaller vehicle because you don’t need all that extra space.
The biggest thing that is going to decide how much you are going to take is where you are going and what you plan to do when you get there. The amount of time that you are away is irrelevant. Whether it is 1 week or 1 year, you still need the same amount. Consumable items can be replenished on the road, and yes, they do have shops where you’re going!
First things first. Lay out all the things you think you are going to need. Try and do it where you can leave them for a while because it might take some time to whittle it down. There are going to be some essentials. Think about what you are going to use on a daily basis. If it is only going to get used once then is it worth carrying it round? Here’s where you need to be ruthless, don’t take it! My usual advice is that once you have laid everything out, you can usually try to half it. Unless you are already a veteran in space saving.
Alternatively you could choose your bag first. I say bag because this is my preferred form of luggage. Suitcases are great, but I just find that rucksacks are more versatile and easier to transport. If you are a dedicated case user then that’s fine, we can still make this work. Make sure that if you are going to get a new bag/case then you purchase it in your most positive ‘I only need the essentials’ frame of mind. In terms of bag size, 25-30 Litres is the Holy Grail and 35-40 Litres is starting to get too big to put in the aeroplane’s over-head locker. I regularly use a 33L (10” x 24” x 7”) daysack for long trips.
What should you look for in a bag/case? Well weight is the biggest thing. There is no point having a nice small bag only for it to weigh 2kg. Make sure you look for light luggage, but it has also got to be comfortable and hard wearing. I know this sounds like an improbable goal, but sometimes you will have to spend a little more to get the best bag for the job.
OK, so now you’ve got a bag/case and all we need to do is fill it. So let’s start with the essentials.
Toiletries (Only minimal, if it’s a long trip you can buy things on the road)
First aid kit
Trek towel (most places you stay will provide a towel so this is just a backup)
Book (only 1, you can always trade it in when you finish it)
Now you’ve got the necessities it will give you an idea of how much space you have got left. Clothes are where the biggest space saving can take place though. I have suggested a kit list below but it’s not definitive. Just don’t take big bulky clothes that take ages to dry like jeans. Remember that you can wash things. One week’s supply of clothes is enough, there’s no need to take more than this. Make sure you travel in your bulkier clothes, like your shoes, trousers and fleece. The shorts and flip-flops can wait until you’re on the beach!
So we’ve done the hard bits, now all that’s left to do is pack.
It can be useful to segment your rucksack/case by using dry bags (waterproof roll-top bags). Not only do they ensure you’re your stuff is kept dry but it allows you to colour code your things. A red one for toiletries, blue one for clothes etc. Bags within a bag may seem a little excessive, and it’s not essential, but it can save a lot of time when you can’t find the toothpaste!
Roll don’t fold. This makes it easier to pack and keeps your clothes presentable.
Leave some space at the top. If your case/bag is already full to the brim before you set off then this isn’t going to work (I haven’t been on a trip yet where my bag is emptier on the way back). I’m sorry to say but you are going to have to take it all out again and get rid of that extra pair of trousers that you’ve snuck in just in-case…
So, you’ve done it! I know I have focussed on packing for a summer location but that is the most common request. If you’re going somewhere cold then the same rules apply. Just trade out the shorts, swimming costume and extra t-shirts for another pair of trousers, one more fleece and some base-layers. You may need a slightly larger bag for extreme cold but try to limit it as much as possible. If you are taking boots always wear them whilst travelling. If your boots are too uncomfortable to wear for a day’s travel then they aren’t great boots, get a new pair!
If this post has been useful, be sure to check out more from me and the Economy Car Hire team on our blog.
I hope you all have happy, lightweight travels.
About the author
This is a guest post by Nicholas Ferns from Economy Car Hire, an award-winning internet based holiday car hire specialist. They are a fast growing family-run business with a strong customer focus. You can follow Nicholas and the rest of the Economy Car Hire team on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+.