If you love nothing more than taking a trip to unexplored lands, hot-footing it onto a plane to take a trip halfway across the globe and you’re never happier than being on foreign soil, then you are no doubt a seasoned traveler. Traveling is one of life’s most rewarding and fulfilling experiences. However, that dream trip of a lifetime where you will be spending six months or more touring sections of our wonderful planet can quickly descend into the stuff of nightmares if you aren’t careful.
A key aspect to globetrotting is the art of traveling light. While there are a vast array of mammoth suitcases taller than you and wider than your car, you don’t want to be lugging this across the rainforests of Costa Rica, down the Amazon in Brazil or through the deserts of Egypt. You need to master the art of packing light and understand the essentials you need to make your travel jaunt comfortable and efficient. With little more than your luggage, a wad of cash and a smile, you can have one of the most incredible experiences of your life when traveling the globe.
Logistics – Packing Light
The actual art of packing has been hotly debated for years. Some people love folding, others are advocates of rolling, and some mythical creatures enjoy mixing it up and do a combination of both. The key aspect of packing is utilizing every iota of space within your bag, suitcase or hard-shelled vessel. Pack your socks and underwear inside your shoes, roll up your shirts and fold your trousers. You don’t want to be packing your worldly possessions into a holdall only to discover a hollow, empty space that’s redundant at the bottom of your bag.
Fill sensibly by distributing the weight evenly. While many will suggest packing the heavier items such as shoes at the bottom of your bag, before topping up with lighter gear, this can put unnecessary strain on your lower back. You’re much better packing the heavier kit in the center of your bag, putting midweight gear towards the bottom of your bag and topping up with lighter clothing at the top.
It’s always better to try and get hold of a front-loading bit of luggage rather than a top loader. This way, you’ll have constant access to all of your items whether they are packed at the top, towards the bottom or in the middle of your luggage. Top loaders mean you need to rifle through all sorts of belongings before you find your trusty guidebook at the bottom of your bag. This causes unnecessary stress and can leave you feeling flustered when traveling.
Traveling light also means you should never be checking in a bag when at the airport. By keeping your luggage strictly carry on, you can be sure of only packing the essentials that you need. Going big with your bags will encourage you to pack more needless items. Having your bag with you at all times makes air travel more efficient, and you can feel secure knowing your luggage is with you at all times.
When heading abroad, it shouldn’t really matter how long you’re planning to be away from home. Whether it’s for two weeks, two months, or two years, you should really only be taking enough clothing for a week. Many people may do with less, but to be comfortable when traveling, having a week’s worth of attire will account for every eventuality. There is a misconception that you need all manner of jackets, fleeces, tops, trousers, socks and underwear. Just ensure you have six or seven days worth. You will be doing your laundry along the way. Contrary to popular belief, even those countries that don’t feature highly on luxury travel lists do have soap powder and running water so that you can do your washing with ease.
Even if you’re traveling to a range of climates, by packing light with thinner items and then layering up, you can save a lot of space, rather than opting for a mammoth duvet of a duffle coat. A thin fleece and a jacket that is windproof and waterproof will suffice. Invest in quality gear, and it will last you your entire trip.
Consider how your clothing will pack down. Softer linen fabrics shrink to virtually nothing when folded. As for shoes, wear your bulky walking boots on your flight and pack a pair of formal shoes as well as comfy sneakers into your backpack. What you wear onto your flight doesn’t count towards your baggage allowance so whip on your thicker hoodie and pack your pockets with anything that won’t fit into your holdall.
The joy of phones nowadays is that you don’t simply use them for calling. These are integral multipurpose pieces of kit that will be your means of communication, your camera, your video, your GPS and your wifi. If you adore travel photography, then you may need a DSLR or rugged travel camera. However, for the average globetrotter, a smartphone camera more than suffices. Get yourself a power pack and ensure that you can keep your device free from the threat of a dying battery. Even when you haven’t seen a plug socket for three days, your phone can be fully charged.
Anything that you can pick up in the country you are traveling to needs to be left at home. There’s no need to take a box of soap powder or a six month supply of moisturizer. You can purchase that the moment you land at your destination. Mastering the art of packing light is all in the planning. Make a list of the items you foresee needing during your time away and make a note of everything you can purchase overseas to free up some much-needed space in your luggage.
If you are well into the planning stages of your next trip to a new destination to immerse yourself into a different culture, try new cuisine and enjoy new experiences, use this checklist to help this trip be the one where you master the art of packing light.